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‘Kind and caring’ mum, 39, dies following month long battle with ‘silent disease’

A “kind and caring” mum has died aged 39, soon after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. 

Mum-of-two Theresa O’Malley had been in pain for many months before she was told that she had pancreatic cancer which has the lowest survival rate of all common cancers.

Sadly for Theresa, her cancer had been diagnosed late and she died just five months later, leaving behind two children. Her daughter Cerys Bolustrom is now determined to increase awareness of pancreatic cancer and raise money for research into a cure and improved treatment.

Speaking to Yorkshire Live, she said: “In the UK alone, around 10,000 new cases of pancreatic cancer are diagnosed each year, and it has the lowest survival rate of all common cancers – only about 5% of those diagnosed survive for five years or more. There has been no improvement in the survival rate of this disease in over 40 years.”

Theresa had been complaining of backache and stomach ache for some time before she was finally diagnosed with pancreatic cancer following tests, said Cerys, who was just 13 years old when her mum died in May 2016.

Cerys, now 20, is speaking out now as she is about to take part in a skydive from 10,000ft to raise money for the Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund.

Her Go Fund Me page can be found here.

Cerys claims her mum had been misdiagnosed at first and had been in pain for around two years before being given the devastating news.

“I vividly remember her telling me and my brother (Aaron, now 23) because it was November and it was coming up to Christmas. She went through chemotherapy but it was really not effective at all. I think she went through chemotherapy for me and my brother so she could live longer. I turned 13 in the April and mum died on May 4. The chemotherapy was horrendous. If I had known this I wouldn’t have had her go through it. She did it for me and my brother.”

Cerys says her mum was a lovely lady who was kind and unselfish. “She was lovely, kind and caring. She did everything for me and my brother,” she told Yorkshire Live.

She recalled her mum studying for a degree while the family lived in Ireland and later, when they moved to Halifax, she got a job as a teaching assistant at Trinity Academy. She had got a place on a teacher training course but sadly died before she could realise her ambition.

“She was very family orientated. There are loads of cousins, nieces and nephews. It was a really big loss. She was just amazing.”

Cerys described pancreatic cancer as particularly cruel because of the low rate of survival.

“She just deteriorated straight away and ended up in a wheelchair. She was determined to go places and do stuff. I remember we went to Blackpool on a trip when she was in a wheelchair. We had to leave early because she was too tired. She wanted to do it for me, in the very little time she had.”

Cerys is now preparing to do a charity skydive in Bridlington to raise money towards research into pancreatic cancer.

She said: “Any donation would be greatly appreciated and would massively support this incredible charity.”

Cerys says that Thursday, November 17, is World Pancreatic Cancer Day.

According to the Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund, pancreatic cancer is often called a silent disease, because people are often unaware of any symptoms until the disease is quite far advanced.

Although the causes are not well understood, there are a number of factors that are thought to increase the risk of people developing pancreatic cancer. It mainly affects people aged between 50 and 80.

Around a third of cases are associated with tobacco use and around 1 in 10 cases of pancreatic cancers are inherited.

The charity says: “Pancreatic cancer is the tenth most common cancer and the fifth most deadly, accounting for around 9,500 (UK) deaths each year.

“What is striking is that the number of people who survive for five years or more following diagnosis of pancreatic cancer has not changed significantly since the 1970s.”

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