Wayne's dad Albert sadly passed away from pancreatitis in August 2021. The family never imagined pancreatitis would strike them again.
Hi, I’m Wayne, I’m 44 years old and live in sunny North Wales.
When COVID hit, my dad, Albert, had just been diagnosed with lung cancer, but was reacting well to immunotherapy treatment. Things seemed well for over a year. But in July 2021 he started with indigestion, sickness and heartburn.
One weekend, his pain became so unbearable that I took dad to A&E. At hospital, they found dad had pancreatitis. My siblings, Toni, Chris and I had never heard of pancreatitis. For the next six weeks, there were times we as a family and the hospital staff thought dad was getting better, but as there’s no specific treatment for pancreatitis, dad’s pancreas became necrotic (the tissue died). This eventually led to sepsis. Dad passed away in August 2021, and we all had an opportunity to say goodbye.
This was the first time we’d heard of pancreatitis. We assumed dad’s cancer may have caused this in some way. We never imagined pancreatitis to strike our family again.
My brother-in-law, Nigel, was a best friend and brother to me. He was very sociable and involved in three local grassroot football teams. Nige met my sister Toni in high school, and he fit in to the family instantly, like he’d always been there. After all, we were both Manchester United fans. Nige and Toni had been together for 29 years. We are a small but very close family.
Nige started with indigestion in 2021, but thought it was caused by stress at work. He had medication from the doctor for it. Nige never missed a training session or a football match, but in late November 2021, he complained he felt unwell and missed Saturday morning’s game.
Nige spent the day at home with his wife Toni, daughter Sophie and son Harry. I called later to ask how he was, and he said he felt a little better but had lots of wind. Nige skipped tea that night but felt well enough by Sunday morning to go to the football. He returned home, ate tea and all seemed well.
That night, Nige woke in excruciating pain. He was vomiting and hunched over, rocking and holding his stomach. Nothing eased his pain. Toni stayed with him all night and on the morning of Monday 22nd November, Toni called the doctor who informed the hospital Nige would be coming in.
Unfortunately, Toni and Nige waited 10 hours to be seen at hospital. By the time he was seen, Nige was taken straight to intensive care. By Tuesday, Nige was told he had acute pancreatitis. On Wednesday, we were told he needed to be put into an induced coma. There was no time for family to see him before he was put under, just a phone call with his wife, Toni.
Over the coming weeks, the hospital staff were amazing. They called daily to update us on Nige’s condition. On the 17th December, our family had just returned from a pre-planned family break, not far from home. Nige’s children, Sophie and Harry needed this break. Toni stayed home so she could visit Nige.
We hadn’t been home long, when the phone rang and the hospital asked if Toni and Angela (Nige’s sister) could get to the hospital as soon as possible, as Nige’s condition had changed. When they arrived, Nige had passed away. His organs had shut down and he’d had a cardiac arrest.
I think to an extent, we’d been prepared for dad’s passing as he’d been unwell prior to the pancreatitis. With Nige, it was so sudden and such a huge shock for everyone. Nige was only 47 years old. His daughter Sophie was 19 at the time, and Harry was 16. It all felt so unfair.
Waiting until the New Year for his funeral (due to COVID restrictions) was hard. But on the day of his funeral, the whole route to the church was lined with hundreds of people. Over 150 children and their parents applauded for Nige as we passed, along with friends, managers and coaches from the football club. It was so moving, showing just how loved he was, and how highly he was thought of.
It was only afterwards when we realised that both dad and Nige had passed away with pancreatitis.
Nige was so mild-mannered, until it came to the football. We miss hearing him shout and scream at the TV. He was useless at DIY and gardening, which we’d all often joke about. Everybody who knew him loved him.
Nige’s sister, Angela, found Guts UK, the small but mighty charity. We set up a tribute page for Nige, asking for donations in his memory to go to Guts UK. We’ve since had a Summer Fun Day for Guts UK too. We’ve already raised over £3,000 for Nige. During November, Guts UK’s Kranky Panky Pancreatitis Awareness Month, we’ll be hosting a fundraising football match too, all in Nige’s memory.
There is no effective treatment for pancreatitis. There is no cure.
Guts UK is dedicated to finding an effective treatment, a cure for this misunderstood and underfunded condition. We are building a community affected by pancreatitis, comforted in knowing they’re not alone.