MEMORIAL EVENT: Peter Kirkman and his wife Pam before she died of pancreatic cancer in 2016
MEMORIAL EVENT: Peter Kirkman and his wife Pam before she died of pancreatic cancer in 2016

A PENSIONER from Cotherstone is organising a 5km cross-country run and walk in memory of his wife who died of pancreatic cancer.

Peter Kirkman’s wife Pam died in 2016, just ten months after being diagnosed with the disease, and cash raised from the event, on Saturday, July 30, will be split between Pancreatic Cancer UK (PCUK) and the Great North Air Ambulance Service.

The fundraiser will support PCUK’s Unite-Diagnose-Save-Lives campaign which helps early diagnostic research

PCUK’s research shows that only 30 per cent of GPs have sufficient access to vital scans needed to diagnose what is described as the deadliest common cancer.

Mr Kirkman’s wife visited her GP in 2015 after experiencing changes to her bowel movements, but put it down to worries about her pet dog, who was unwell.

When the animal recovered but she did not, Mrs Kirkman returned to her GP and was sent for scans in the October, which showed an inoperable tumour on her pancreas.

Mr Kirkman said: “I asked about the prognosis and the doctor said less than a year. It’s life changing. You are never the same again. To suddenly realise she isn’t going to be here in a year’s time. And then what do you do? How do you cope with this? How do we not live together?”

Mrs Kirkman died in August the following year.

PCUK says 80 per cent of people with pancreatic cancer are not diagnosed until after the disease has spread.

Mr Kirkman, who also lost his best friend to the disease, said: “It’s horrible that survival rates haven’t changed for pancreatic cancer in decades.

“In my case I have to try and help in whichever way I can. It’s a killer. There was a lady in Barnard Castle who died six days after diagnosis. That’s horrible; not even being able to make a plan or come to terms with it.”

He added that research into the diseased is under-funded.

Diana Jupp, chief executive of PCUK, said: “Sorry, it’s too late, we can’t save you, are the devastating words that 80 per cent of people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer will hear this year.

“We simply cannot allow this to continue, not when we have seen the game-changing impact early diagnosis research has had for breast, prostate and other common cancers.”

The run at 11am on Saturday, July 30, will start and finish at Doe Park Caravan Park and includes a separate children’s event.

For more information email or search for Cotherstone 5k 2022 on Facebook.