A CORBRIDGE man who survived pancreatic cancer is aiming to raising awareness of the disease as well as funds for charity.

Allan Garcia, a haulage contractor, had undergone scans for kidney stones towards the end of 2020 which revealed a pancreatic tumour.

The 49-year-old then had a biopsy which confirmed it was cancerous.

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"It was found by accident," said Allan, who added he initially had no symptoms of the disease, which has the lowest survival rates of common cancers.

Less than seven per cent of people will survive for five years or more.

According to Pancreatic Cancer UK, pancreatic cancer often does not cause symptoms in the early stages.

And around 80 per cent of pancreatic cancer patients are not diagnosed until the cancer is at an advanced stage, the charity has also said.

"As time went on, before his treatment when he knew there was something untoward, he did start getting itchy," said his wife Sue. "That was the only sign he had, and the pupils of his eyes were yellow, like jaundice."

Allan underwent an operation, called the Whipple procedure, in March last year and remained in hospital for around a month.

"The consultant basically said within six weeks if they hadn't got it done, there's a high chance he wouldn't be here now," said Sue.

The father-of-two then began a tough regime of chemotherapy at Hexham General Hospital for six months.

"That was very gruelling," added Sue.

Allan, who is originally from Brampton, has praised the care he received.

"I was just whooshed in within a fortnight, walked in, surgery done, best of treatment, brilliant chemo, everything," he said. "I couldn't fault it, I don't have a bad word to say about any of it."

He also thanked his nurse Nikki Kilbride in particular for her support.

Luckily, he was given the all-clear at the end of last year and now just has to go for three and then six-monthly blood checks for monitoring.

"I have got to keep positive and hope it's left as a memory now," said Allan, who is about to become a grandad.

He returned to work earlier this year, and last month, he completed the Coast to Coast challenge ride with 18 of his friends and family members, keen to raise awareness and money for Pancreatic Cancer UK.

Hexham Courant:

"I think it's good to advertise the fact that you can come out the other end," said Sue. "You've got to get there in the early stages though."

The group cycled 150 miles, from Workington to Tynemouth, over three days.

Allan had previously completed the challenge twice before to raise money for cancer charities.

"And then I ended up getting it myself," he said. "It's quite ironic."

Having set out to raise £3,000, Allan has smashed his original target and has so far raised more than £6,500.

He said he is very grateful for the support he has received from many people and businesses, including R&H Scott Timber Haulage, and added he is planning to host a fundraising ball in Hexham next year to raise more funds for cancer charities.

To donate to Allan's JustGiving page, click here.

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According to the NHS, symptoms of pancreatic cancer include:

  • the whites of your eyes or your skin turn yellow (jaundice), you may also have itchy skin, darker pee and paler poo than usual
  • loss of appetite or losing weight without trying to
  • feeling tired or having no energy
  • a high temperature, or feeling hot or shivery

Other symptoms can affect your digestion, such as:

  • feeling or being sick
  • diarrhoea or constipation, or other changes in your poo
  • pain at the top part of your tummy and your back, which may feel worse when you are eating or lying down and better when you lean forward
  • symptoms of indigestion, such as feeling bloated