A Thornbury man who battled pancreatic cancer has urged people not to ignore changes to their body.

Pharmacist Phil Hunt is sharing his story during Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month to encourage people to say alert to anything that feels 'odd'.

After his urine started going a darker colour Phil assumed he had a urine infection and began taking antibiotics.

But after receiving test results as part of his annual review with the practice nurse, he was admitted to hospital. A CT scan revealed there was a 24mm stage two pancreatic cancer.

"At that point, even as a pharmacist, it was not a cancer that I knew much about," said Phil

"As a moderately overweight, but otherwise fit and healthy 70-year-old I thought I was invincible and would live for ever."

Phil was treated in hospital for several days before it was determined a Whipple procedure was necessary - surgery to remove the head of the pancreas.

He attended Bristol Royal Infirmary in January 2020 for on operation that took all day.

Things did not go smoothly. Phil contracted sepsis and was in intensive care for about 10 days, before being moved to an individual ward as he was still an infection risk. In all he was in hospital for nine weeks.

"Fortunately, I had the opportunity to go home just before the hospital got involved in the first Covid-19 wave," Phil said.

"I doubt I would have had the immunity to combat a Covid infection at the time."

"As I went home, I was still on an infusion antibiotic with the district nurses coming in every day for another 10 days.

"I was told that I may not be diabetic as the remaining pancreas may work well enough. I have found my blood sugar is constantly a little high and may need insulin.

"I lost quite a lot of weight, about 20kg and am no longer overweight. The Whipple cuts away part of your stomach and I now find I really can’t eat anything like as much as before, so my weight loss has been stable."

Further issues delayed the start to the back-up chemotherapy which is recommended post-op. Eventually this started late July 2020, running for six months.

"This is not the best experience as it caused dreadful fatigue as well as nausea, vomiting and bowel problems," said Phil.

"Gradually, after chemo finished I started feeling stronger and more alert.

"In the nine months or so since then I have been working again in the pharmacy.

"Although I have found this experience humbling in many ways, I consider myself a fortunate survivor of what is so often a dreaded cancer.

"My advice is to be constantly alert to anything which feels ‘odd’ to you. Do not ignore any changes and insist that they are investigated. Don’t be one of those whose condition is not recognised until it is too late."