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East Lancashire GP beats cancer ‘death sentence’
A GP and father-of-three claims he ‘would not be here now’ had he not travelled to Germany for an operation not available to him in the UK.
Michael Barsby, 42, was initially told he had just eight weeks to live after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer almost a year ago.
But now he’s been told he’s cancer-free after a pioneering operation abroad which his wife researched on the internet.
Michael of Dorset Drive, Clitheroe, who works at Kiddrow Lane Health Centre in Burnley, was first diagnosed with pancreatic cancer - which has the lowest survival rate of any cancer - after developing jaundice.
He was told by his own doctors that they would be unable to operate - the only way to completely cure the disease - because his tumour was wrapped around important blood vessels.
Instead, he was offered chemotherapy to try to delay its spread and started the process at The Christie in Manchester but his wife Susan continued to search for a cure.
After researching on the internet, Susan found details of a woman whose condition had improved after having surgery, known as the Whipples procedure, in Heidelberg, Germany.
Michael met German consultants in January in a last-ditch attempt to overcome the cancer and was accepted for treatment to remove his entire pancreas, along with his spleen, gall bladder and part of his stomach in February.
The couple funded the operation, which cost several thousand pounds, themselves. He then underwent a second course of chemotherapy in May and got the great news last month that his scans had come back clear.
He said: “The risks are the same as with any operation in that complications can lead to death.
“I knew the risks but it was worth it. It was certainly better than the alternative.”
Now, Michael, who has three sons Oliver, James and Christian, has shared his inspirational journey in a four-minute YouTube photo diary, viewed more than 600 times in just over three weeks.
WATCH THE VIDEO HERE
And he's determined to raise awareness and money to fund research into pancreatic cancer which has the lowest survival rate of any cancer, with £3,000 already collected.
Fitness enthusiast Michael said: “Being diagnosed was an incredible shock because I live a healthy life and had only just returned from a mountaineering holiday and felt fine.
“I didn’t feel unwell but the psychological impact of knowing that my cancer had been deemed inoperable was devastating, yet we didn’t want to give up.
“I didn’t dwell on the risks involved with the surgery and was just happy that they were prepared to operate on me because, if I hadn’t had it, I wouldn’t be here now.
“I started to feel better around eight weeks after surgery and the second course of chemotherapy, and when the results of a scan in August came back clear, I knew that it had been worth it."
He said that although the operation had left him diabetic and dependent on digestion medication for the rest of his life, he hoped he could be one of the 3.6% who survive for five years or more.
He said: “Whilst I am aware that only 3.6% of people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer ever recover, someone has to be in that 3.6% and I am hopeful that I will be one of them and would tell other people who have been diagnosed to explore all available options.
“My life has completely changed but I believe that someone was looking down on me."
A spokesman for NHS England said: "Surgery is usually the only way pancreatic cancer can be completely cured. Because pancreatic cancer is usually advanced by the time it is diagnosed, surgery is only suitable for around 15 to 20% of patients.
"If a tumour has wrapped itself around important blood vessels, surgery will not be a suitable option. If the cancer has spread to other areas of the body, then the patient will also not be recommended for surgery. This is because the risks of surgery often outweigh the potential benefits."
To make a donation to Pancreatic Cancer UK go to: www.justgiving.com/Michael-Barsby
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