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Jeremy Hunt reflects on his wife’s diagnosis of terminal pancreatic cancer.

26 May Jeremy Hunt reflects on his wife’s diagnosis of terminal pancreatic cancer.

Jeremy Hunt’s wife Alison was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer at just 61 in August 2022. She sadly died in October 2022. Jeremy is working with Pancreatic Cancer Action, the only UK-based charity dedicated to improving survival rates through early diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, to raise awareness of the disease’s devastating nature.

In 2015 Alison had been tested for the BRCA gene mutation, which greatly increased her chance of developing breast cancer, and after meeting with consultants, she decided to have a double mastectomy and a hysterectomy during 2016.

However, the BRCA gene also holds a greatly heightened risk of pancreatic cancer. Alison volunteered to be part of the EUROPAC monitoring study, which aims to understand inherited conditions of the pancreas. For Alison, this meant she would alternate between a blood test and an MRI scan every six months and just before Christmas 2021, she had an MRI scan and was given the all-clear.

Alison was an avid volunteer and had been helping clear their local ponds from rubbish when she started to develop symptoms in August 2022. Jeremy recalls, “she was feeling a strange abdominal pain, had lost her appetite, and had started taking antacids for reflux. She was also experiencing some backache pains, so we assumed this was from some waterborne bug she had picked up. She even wondered if it could be a hernia strain.”

Alison’s pain worsened over the next month, and they decided they needed to investigate further, and Alison booked a blood test for herself at University College Hospital. There was a spike in these results, and they then ordered another blood test to rule out a false positive. Unfortunately, the spike was still present, so they asked her to come in for an MRI scan. The hospital quickly arranged a meeting with a consultant, and Jeremy also attended.

“In that meeting, we were told that the news was bad. The MRI scan revealed that she had a tumour on her pancreas. It was much enlarged, and pressure on the spine and other nerves was probably the reason for the constant back pain. The cancer had metastasised and was also on her liver. It was stage four. Inoperable. A course of chemotherapy would be given, but it would not be a cure.”

Just weeks later, on 19th October 2022, Jeremy spent the afternoon with Alison in hospital. Sadly, once he returned home, the hospital rang him at 11pm with the awful news that she had developed sepsis and that she was being moved to end-of-life care.

Jeremy says: “I arrived back at the hospital at midnight to have the last few hours with her, she died in the early hours of the morning on 20th October 2022. From the diagnosis of her pancreatic cancer to her death was just three weeks.”

“However, I am sure with greater investment, earlier diagnosis and new developments in medicine arriving all the time that, progress can be made with this ‘Cinderella’ cancer.”

“In Alison’s name, I now try to raise funds and regularly donate to Pancreatic Cancer Action so that at some point, in the not-too-far future, you, your partner, your Mum, Dad or anybody you know, or love will have a much better prognosis than my beloved Alison did.”

Pancreatic cancer is the 5th most common cause of cancer death in the UK, with around 10,500 people diagnosed each year. Early diagnosis is crucial for improving survival rates, sadly, 26 people a day die from the disease, and a further 29 are diagnosed.

Pancreatic Cancer Action is dedicated to raising awareness of the disease and funding research into early diagnosis and treatment. To find out more about our work, visit our website at