A grandmother wants to share her story across the city to spread awareness about pancreatic cancer.

Christine Leonard from Darlington has asked the council to change the color of the city's clock tower in solidarity with the month of Pancreatic Cancer Awareness.

On November 16, the tower's faces turn purple and Mrs. Leonard hopes that this will help to spread the message.

Last year, the 58-year-old grandmother suffered a "hard ride" after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

She went to her family doctor in August 2017 after suffering from abdominal pain, loss of appetite, and weight loss.

After a series of blood tests that turned out to be normal, Ms. Leonard got medication, but after ten days her symptoms had not improved.

She said, "The pain had gone on my back and started to turn yellow with jaundice, my doctor did more blood work and the next day I got a call telling me to go to Darlington Memorial Hospital. They did more tests and thought they were gallstones blocking my bile duct.

"They decided I needed a stent that was introduced into the bile duct, and I was taken to Durham Hospital, and after the procedure, I was told that if I had not, I would not be here now."

Ms. Leonard was then referred to the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle. There she was diagnosed with the early stage of pancreatic carcinoma.

She received a procedure called "The Whipple" – a mammoth operation to remove a tumor that blocks the bile duct, part of the pancreas, part of the small intestine, gallbladder, part of the stomach, and 27 lymph nodes.

She was hospitalized on December 18th and had surgery for nearly nine hours. On Boxing Day, Ms. Leonard was allowed to go home.

She added, "The only thing that kept me going at the time was that we had booked a family vacation with my grandchildren in Florida and will marry my daughter next year.

"I had a CT scan in September and finally got the all-clear, there are just so many people who do not know what symptoms are the symptoms that I thought" What can I do to spread awareness? "

"I turned to the Darlington Borough Council to see if they were willing to illuminate a building to raise awareness, and they agreed to open the city clock for the 16th and possibly a few days on both sides illuminate.

"My story is to raise awareness of this terrible cancer and educate people about the symptoms they need to watch out for."

The month of pancreatic cancer awareness extends throughout November.



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