a pancreas cancer A second-time survivor of the disease shares the early signs that people of all ages should know.
Charles Jajkowski, 63, business development manager for a geotechnical company in Surbiton, Kingston, has declared war on pancreatic cancerFive years of ordeal followed with two bouts of the disease – which also led to the death of his mother, Romualda, aged 78, in 1999.
Czajkowski, who is hoping the treatment he received through his wife’s private health care package will save her life, has urged the government to provide more funding for the situation.
As his health declined in 2017, Czajkowski faced a series of delays to his diagnosis and treatment. NHS That is until he accessed Bupa Healthcare through his wife of 16 years, Jackie’s workplace.
After initial treatment success, Czajkowski’s cancer returned in May 2022 and private oncologists are now attempting to use a range of drugs, some of which are unavailable on the NHS, to save his life.
Now working to fight the disease and help patients identify it early, Czajkowski is on the scientific advisory board of Pancreatic Cancer UK.
“It gave me control,” Czajkowski said. “Pancreatic cancer has declared war on me… So to get back at it, I have declared war on pancreatic cancer by helping to educate and save other people’s lives.
“It’s an awareness battle because pancreatic cancer is not much time and investment in the UK.”
What are the symptoms of pancreatic cancer?
Common symptoms of pancreatic cancer include:
- a new diagnosis of diabetes, or worsening diabetes that is difficult to control
- abdominal pain that radiates to the back
- loss of appetite or unintentional weight loss
- digestive symptoms, such as diarrhea
- itchy skin
How was Tchaikovsky diagnosed?
Czajkowski’s ordeal as a cancer patient began in 2017 when she was diagnosed with type two diabetes.
Halfway through that year, he had an attack of the pancreas – also known as acute pancreatitis – which, according to the NHS, is a severe pain that begins suddenly in the center of the patient’s abdomen and is accompanied by vomiting and a high temperature. Can also happen with
For the rest of the year, Czajkowski was under observation amid repeated pancreas attacks and he rapidly lost weight, going from 85 kg to about 75 kg at 6 feet tall.
“Another sign that things weren’t going right was that my pancreas wasn’t producing enzymes and so I started getting what they call pancreatic diarrhea, which is a good sign if your diet isn’t working properly.” is not digesting,” Czajkowski said.
As a result, his GP prescribed Czajkowski pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy (Pert), which stabilized his weight as he was now able to absorb nutrients.
From there, Czajkowski was sent to a series of different hospitals for scans and assessments.
Eventually, in early March 2019, further tests revealed that Czajkowski had a 10-millimetre tumor on the head of his pancreas.
How was Czajkowski’s cancer treated?
In March 2019, Czajkowski met with his wife and a Macmillan nurse, the head of the surgical team at Hammersmith Hospital.
The NHS doctor explained to Czajkowski that the Whipple procedure to remove the head of the pancreas, the first part of the small intestine, the gallbladder and bile duct would take place two months later.
After researching survival rates for pancreatic cancer, Czajkowski feared this waiting time was a risk so decided to go private for the rest of his treatment through his wife’s Bupa medical cover.
His operation was performed at the London Clinic Hospital in April using a da Vinci surgical robot.
“I was basically told to say goodbye to my wife, because the operation carries a lot of risk,” Czajkowski said.
“So it was very hard when we both went into the pre-med room because I didn’t know if I would wake up from this big operation.
“But luckily for me, when I was saying goodbye, they injected me with pre-med and next thing I was out.”
Charles subsequently began six months of fortnightly chemotherapy sessions, which caused his weight to drop to around 67kg – he weighed around 85kg before his diagnosis.
“I saw skeletons,” Czajkowski said. “But I managed to stick it out. With a lot of hard work, you have to fight it, it’s a battle.”
Tchaikovsky’s cancer returns in 2020
In May 2022, a CT scan revealed that Czajkowski’s pancreatic cancer had returned in a secondary form.
At this stage, there is no cure for his condition, but Czajkowski’s oncologist put him back on chemotherapy with two new drugs, one of which is not available on the NHS.
After three months of treatment the tumor continued to grow and in September, Czajkowski began another round of chemotherapy given fortnightly.
He will find out later this month whether his tumor has shrunk with this treatment.
Reflecting on his experience with cancer, Czajkowski said: “Fighting cancer is more than fighting it physically, it’s mental. You have to focus on all the positives you can get out of it.
“I have traveled all over the world for my work and been to places most people would only dream of visiting, and I took it for granted.
“But going through cancer puts your whole life into perspective.”