This mum was given four months to live – 21 years ago
Lynette Jennings was given four months to live - but the wait list for her operation in the public system was almost five months.
She went private and despite being given perhaps five years after the successful operation at St Andrews Hospital, 21 years on she is alive and kicking.
"Each day is a blessing - I am very, very lucky and grateful," Mrs Jennings said.
Mrs Jennings of Parafield Gardens was 40 with two teenage daughters and loving husband Geoffrey when she received the devastating news she had pancreatic cancer.
Unlike the vast majority of patients who are diagnosed too late for an operation, an "excruciating pain" revealed the tumour in time for action.
"I was given four months to live but the wait list in the public system was four and a half months," she said.
"I went private and had to wait two weeks but the tumour was growing fast, but they got all the cancer out."
Mrs Jennings was prompted to tell her story after reading about eminent doctor, Professor Chris Baggoley's battle with the same cancer in The Advertiser this week.
Prof Baggoley was also fortunate to be diagnosed early after being checked for an unrelated complaint and underwent a pancreaticoduodenectomy - more commonly called Whipple's procedure after the doctor who first performed it.
As the former Australian, and SA Health, Chief Medical Officer, Prof Baggoley puts it: "They take out about half your pancreas, the gall bladder, part of the bile duct, part of the small intestine and also possibly part of the liver and stomach. Then they join it all up in a way nature didn't intend."
Mrs Jennings said she wanted to tell her story in an effort for Prof Baggoley to remain positive.
"On May 8 I marked 21 years since the operation," she said. "I had two daughters and a husband then so a lot to live for, and now I also have two grandsons.
"I just want that nice doctor to know there is hope. I had three weeks in St Andrews then five weeks of home nursing, and while it was a very big operation we have always looked on the bright side."
Pancreatic cancer kills about 80 per cent of patients within 12 months, largely because it typically has no symptoms until it has spread and an operation is no longer possible.
The Avner Pancreatic Cancer Foundation this week announced $600,000 in grants for Australian researchers to find treatments, cures and early diagnosis of the disease.
These include $100,000 for a UniSA team using radioisotopes emitting alpha particles to target and kill pancreatic cancer cells while sparing normal cells - these isotope lives longer in the body than previous types, allowing more time to target and kill cancer cells.