Jack’s story is told by his mother, Philippa. Jack’s father Ian and his sister Lizzie help tell Jack’s story too. "We were in disbelief. We’d worried about Jack’s health and liver, but not once did we think about his pancreas."
Tell us about your family
“We live in Stoke-on-Trent; in the family home we’ve shared for 31 years. Ian and I are grandparents to Charlie, Lizzie and Dan’s son. Today, we’re sharing Jack’s pancreatitis story.
Jack was intelligent, witty and funny, a loyal supporter of Crewe Alexandra football club, loved live music and had many friends. He was liked and loved and had a true ‘you only live once’ attitude to life.”
When did Jack start to struggle with his mental health and relationship with alcohol?
“As a young adult Jack liked to socialise and have fun with his many friends. Jack had always struggled with his mental health, and we struggled to get him to access the right support. Jack began relying on alcohol as a sticking plaster for his social anxiety. With my own bowel cancer struggles and COVID-19, his relationship with alcohol became even more unhealthy.
As a family, we tried so hard to get Jack the help he desperately needed. We regularly spoke with his doctors about his health but were frustrated by Jack’s inability to engage.”
Talk us through Jack’s admission to hospital
“We’d tried to get Jack settled into his own place, but by December of 2022, he was back living at home with us. It was important to us that he was always safe, warm, fed and loved.
After a few days of not drinking, Jack had relapsed and drank over the 24th to the 25th of February (Friday/Saturday). I came home mid-afternoon on Saturday and found him lying on our bed. He had a small amount of sick on his t-shirt, and his legs looked bruised (he would often fall). I settled him back in his own bed to sleep it off.
When Ian came home, Jack was looking unwell, but that wasn’t unusual. Jack was lying at the top of the landing. He wasn’t in pain, but we were concerned, so we called an ambulance. We were advised that a specialist paramedic would call us back, the call came a couple of hours later.
As a result of this call, an ambulance arrived, and it was decided that Jack needed to be admitted to hospital because they were worried about his vitals and very low blood pressure. At this point we felt some relief, knowing he was in good hands and hoped he would get the help he needed.”
Talk us through Jack’s time in hospital
“Jack arrived in hospital, we called to check on him at midnight. The nurse said, “We’re thinking about discharging him”. On Sunday, we called again but the hospital seemed more concerned and asked Ian to come in to see Jack.
When Ian arrived, a doctor and nurse pulled him to one side. “Jack is very poorly; he has severe acute pancreatitis, and we don’t know if his body will pull through. 80% of his pancreas has necrotised (died)”. Lizzie and I rushed to hospital in complete shock. Jack was in intensive care, hooked up to so many machines and looked so ill. He was on maximum life support.
In the early hours of Monday morning, we were told that there was nothing more they could do to support his other organs. We told him we loved him and held his hand. Our 28-year-old son passed away, less than 48 hours after he was admitted into hospital.”
How were the days and weeks that followed?
“We were in disbelief. We’d worried about Jack’s health and liver, but not once did we think about his pancreas. What was the pancreas? What did it do? Couldn’t they have done more for him? How can it happen so fast and catastrophically?
Jack’s funeral was full of people who knew him and us. He was loved by so many, but most of all by his family.”
How do you remember Jack?
“There’s a corner in a room in our home with lyrics from songs he loved, photos of Jack, and other keepsakes that remind us of him. We talk about him regularly, sharing memories, crying and laughing together. A recent catch up with some of Jack’s friends reminded us that others are missing him too. We take some comfort in knowing we did all we could to help Jack. Having our grandson Charlie is amazing, just one look at him and we’re smiling again. Jack adored Charlie.”
What are your hopes for the future?
“We’re telling Jack’s story today to raise awareness. We must attract more research to pancreatitis, and we want something positive to come of Jack’s struggles.
Guts UK’s website was where we went in the days after his death, to truly understand pancreatitis and read the stories of other families. In his memory, we set up a fundraising page for them. We could never have imagined we’d raise over £7,000 in his memory. We felt very appreciated and supported by Guts UK, receiving letters and cards, which we have kept. We’ve been so impressed with how Guts UK operates and feel as though we’re doing something worthwhile in Jack’s name, making a difference. We want to do another fundraiser for what would have been Jack’s 30th birthday. Jack’s legacy is bigger than the difficulties he had. He was just a young man who felt things deeply but loved us deeply too.”
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.