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New group calls time on pancreatic cancer in Northern Ireland

2 August 2018

A new community group has launched to promote better outcomes for pancreatic cancer sufferers in Northern Ireland.

NIPanC logoNIPanC has been set up by local people with direct experience of  pancreatic cancer and in partnership with two national charities, Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund (PCRF) and Pancreatic Cancer Action (PCA).

The new group has developed from the initial support group fostered by Susan Cooke, PCRF's voluntary co-ordinator for Northern Ireland and Kerry Irvine, a supporter of PCA.

Local actor Jamie Dornan, who lost his mother Lorna to pancreatic cancer in 1998 when he was just 15, has agreed to be the Patron of NIPanC. His father, Professor James Dornan will act as its President (both pictured below with sister, Jess).

NIPanC Patron, Jamie Dornan (right) with sister Sophie and father, NIPanC President, Professor James Dornan

Photo copyright: Kevin Cooper Photoline

Speaking at the launch of the new group at the Mater Hospital, Belfast which houses the regional Pancreatic Cancer Unit, Jamie said:

"I know the human tragedy of pancreatic cancer and its effect on families and our wider community. I lost my mother to pancreatic cancer 20 years ago last week. I've always wanted to be associated to a charity that means something to me in a major way. It all seemed very fitting I could do whatever I can promote awareness of this horrendous disease.

“It is a tragedy that the extremely low survival rates for pancreatic cancer have not improved significantly in 40 years.  But there is much that we can do to address this. We must improve awareness of the cancer in the community and, importantly, amongst medical professionals; we must channel more funding, both public and private, into necessary research; and we must offer better support to families affected by pancreatic cancer.” 

“These are the goals of NIPanC and I am wholly behind this new group in taking forwards this crucial work within Northern Ireland.”

Dr Mark Taylor, chair of NIPanC said:

“The strength of NIPanC is that it brings together individuals who have suffered from this cancer, families who have direct experience of the impact of this cancer and medical professionals dealing with this condition.”

“Looking forward, there are very real prospects of innovative research improving treatments and increasing the survivability of this cancer, for example the pioneering ‘sonodynamic therapy’ research taking place at the Ulster University, which aims to make chemotherapy and radiotherapy more effective for pancreatic cancer.”

“But we must prioritise research, increase public awareness of its symptoms and promote early diagnosis.”

Maggie Blanks, CEO of Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund said:

“It’s fantastic to see the wonderful collaboration between supporters of PCRF and PCA developing into NIPanC.  I’d like to acknowledge Susan Cooke and Kerry Irvine for their hard work and dedication over the years, working in partnership to increase awareness of pancreatic cancer and improve support for patients and families across Northern Ireland.”

“We’re extremely proud of their achievements and have no doubt that NIPanC will go from strength to strength.” 

Read more about the launch event on the BBC website.

Kerry Irvine and Susan Cooke present at the launch event

Photo copyright: Kevin Cooper Photoline

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