Denise Robertson

This story is part of the Guts UK Pancreatitis Awareness Campaign.

On November 2018 Guts UK launched a campaign to raise awareness of pancreatitis and funds for research. Please help us by sharing this story on Facebook and on Twitter tagging @GutsCharityUK.

Denise Robertson’s Story

My name is Denise and this story is about my dad, Malcolm. The story is an old one, way back from 1990, pre-internet, pre-social media, when there really was no information out there. My dad had acute pancreatitis, something we had never even heard of. We thought it was like appendicitis and that he would have an operation and everything would be fine – we couldn’t have been more wrong.

The most striking thing about acute pancreatitis for us was the speed at which everything happened. My dad had spent the day assembling some MFI furniture before heading to work, he was a bus driver so had shifts. He came home quite late that night and had his tea, suddenly he ran off to the toilet to be sick, but it seemed no more than that. The next morning the GP was called and he made a home visit (rare even then) and within the hour my dad was being walked into an ambulance. By the time we got to the hospital he had been catheterized and was on oxygen but seemed OK and was still chatting, but soon he was moved to side-room and then later that evening he was taken up to intensive care. In less than 24 hours he had gone from driving a bus to being sedated and on a ventilator. He was a textbook case it seemed, organs failed one by one and although the staff couldn’t have been kinder, there was absolutely nothing they could do to stop this. So, five weeks later we were faced with the decision of switching off his life support machine and ending this awful suffering. My dad was 42 and had two children.

My dad died on the 7th November 1990, and so here we are exactly 28 years later, on the 7th November 2018. The World itself is such a different place but has anything at all really changed for patients with pancreatitis? Reading the other stories from Guts UK, it seems not.  He would now be given nutrition in intensive care perhaps. My main hope for the future is that ‘some’ treatment will be developed, beyond simply supportive measures and other children might be spared what we had to see during those five weeks.

You don’t realise perhaps the impact of losing someone so young, until you get to that age. Hitting 42 myself had a dramatic effect. I embraced my life in a way, took up running and to celebrate winning a place in the London marathon, began fundraising for Guts UK (then Core). Unfortunately before the race I fractured my pelvis so my daughter continued the fundraising and wore my vest with pride for the granddad she had never met.

What can you do?

Join in our Kranky Panky Weekend fun and fundraise for more pancreatitis research with Guts UK. Check out some of our ideas here!

Or join Team Guts UK for 2019 challenges! We have places, so come on board! If you want to run Vitality Half Marathon, March 10th 2019 or cycle in Prudential Ride London 100 August 4th 2019 register here. Let’s go!

More information

Find out about acute and chronic pancreatitis in our Conditions section and read tips and suggestions on how to manage chronic pancreatitis from those affected by this condition.

Denise Robertson's daughter Catherine running the London Marathon for Guts UK (then Core) in memory of her granddad.