A CANCER charity is saying thank you to a Dorchester woman whose story of survival against the odds is giving hope to thousands.
Susan Rostron has been speaking about her determination to help others after her death bed to life-saving surgery.
Miss Rostron was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in April 2011. As she searched the Internet to find out about the disease she came across Southampton surgeon Neil Pearce who was setting up a tissue bank for research.
In her account to help promote Pancreatic Cancer Month in November she told how she emailed Mr Pearce offering to donate her tumour after her death and asking how to make arrangements. But Mr Pearce instead suggested radical surgery that gave her a new life.
Miss Rostron, 58, underwent more than 12 hours of surgery in which the tumour, weighing 11 pounds, was removed, along with her stomach, pancreas and more.
More than a year on the former teacher, now a partner in Artisan art and craft gallery in Poundbury, is keen to see awareness about pancreatic cancer raised.
She said: “I was told there was nothing to be done apart from palliative care. I got the diagnosis two days before signing the lease on Artisan. Dying early was not part of my plan.
“I knew there was a high chance I would not survive the operation but I was between a rock and a hard place so I went for the surgery.”
Alex Ford, chief executive of Pancreatic Cancer UK, said: “When people like Susan tell their story it has a significant impact on awareness of the disease.
“We cannot thank Susan and our other Voices enough for telling their stories as not only are they raising awareness of this silent cancer, they are helping us to reach many more people with crucial support and information.”
The charity noticed a surge in website visits when Susan’s story appeared on the Daily Mail website.
The Pancreatic Cancer UK Support Line is 020 3535 7099.
Surgeon Neil Pearce said: “Susan had very major surgery for a rare type of pancreatic cancer called a Neuro Endocrine Tumour or NET.
“By any conventional criteria Susan’s NET would be considered inoperable, so I am not surprised that she was told it could not be removed.
“In Southampton we have a team of surgeons who work together to deal with some of these very big, difficult tumours.
“We can often stretch the boundaries of what is surgically possible.
“However, we can only do this for the right types of tumour and in relatively fit people or the risks are too high.”
Mr Pearce is part of a charity called PLANETS - Pancreas, Liver and Neuro Endocrine Tumours Southampton - that is raising £200,000 towards a £3million radiotherapy theatre at University Hospital Southampton.
He said: “By contributing funds we will be able to get the project started sooner and start saving more lives.”
Susan’s story has found its way all over the world thanks to media and the internet and she hopes it will encourage others suffering from pancreatic cancer.
Miss Rostron, who teaches pottery at Artisan, said: “I had lost a lot of weight with LighterLife before my cancer was diagnosed – it was fortunate because otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to have the surgery.”
The disease is the ninth most common cancer in the UK, with more than 8,000 people being diagnosed every year.
Pancreatic Cancer UK is campaigning for more resources for early diagnosis, more funding and increased awareness of the symptoms.