Terminally Ill Dad Reveals Pancreatic Cancer Symptoms Everyone Should Watch Out For

Terminally Ill Dad Reveals Pancreatic Cancer Symptoms Everyone Should Watch Out For

A seemingly healthy father-of-three recently diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer has warned of everyday symptoms everyone should know about.

Business development manager Mark Ryan, 37, first felt something was wrong when he started experiencing abdominal and back pain in January.

He said: “Earlier this year, I started suffering from severe abdominal and back pain.

“It didn’t get any better so I went to my GP who initially thought it might be celiac and did a number of tests.

“I completely cut gluten out of my diet, but the pain persisted, so I was referred to a gastroenterologist who did more tests.”

As a result, Mark was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in March 2022.

He said: “It was a shock, completely discovered. I knew something had to be wrong, but I certainly didn’t expect it to be cancer.

“The average age of people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer is 70. I’m much younger, generally fit and healthy, with no previous health problems or family history of cancer, so it really came as a shock total”.

Emilie and Reece embark on daily runs with their mother, Lara. (Collection/PA Real Life)

The devoted dad is in awe of his children Reece, nine, and Emilie, seven, who have raised tens of thousands for cancer research by running 26 miles during the school holidays.

The determined duo have been running on a daily basis since their school split in July, already raising £50,000 with the rest of the month to go for The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity.

Since his diagnosis in March this year, Mark, who lives in Harpenden, Hertfordshire, with barrister Lara, 40, and children Reece, Emilie and Rory, three, said: “I’m very proud of them.”

She added: “The children have been amazing in dealing with the news of my diagnosis.

“Lara and I have been very honest with them and the two seniors wanted to take on this challenge as their way of helping.”



My wife and I decided to take a very open and honest approach with the children when it came to talking about my illness.

Mark Ryan

Things became even more difficult for Mark when he was told how far his cancer had progressed.

He said: “It was even worse to hear it was stage four cancer.

“Unfortunately, with this type of cancer, symptoms don’t usually show up until it’s quite advanced, which was my case.”

Emilie and Reece wanted to help after seeing a Race For Life advert on TV. (Collection/PA Real Life)

He added: “For me, this cancer is terminal and the doctors advised that I should start chemotherapy immediately to try to get the situation under control.”

Starting treatment in March, Mark is on his tenth cycle of chemotherapy.

He said: “I am still in the early stages of treatment. They will check after my 12th cycle to see what effect the chemotherapy has had on controlling the cancer. Then we can reassess and decide what the next steps will be.”

The youngsters have already raised £50,000 for the charity. (Stephanie Belton/PA Real Life)

He added: “At diagnosis the doctors said the cancer was inoperable but it may be an option later on if it has shrunk.

“It is a very aggressive form of cancer that is very difficult to treat and treat, but I seem to have responded very well to the chemotherapy so far and all indications are that my review is positive.”

Meanwhile, Mark’s children Reece and Emilie are eager to help, so they decided to raise funds for the charity at the hospital where their father is treated.

The kids run about half a mile every day. (Collection/PA Real Life)

He said: “My wife and I decided to take a very open and honest approach with the children when it came to talking about my illness.

“We didn’t want them to worry or second-guess what was going on, so we made sure they had a basic understanding of cancer.

“They know the medicine is hurting me in the short term, but it’s helping me get better and if they have any questions, they can ask my wife and me, and they often do.”



I am keen to raise awareness of pancreatic cancer as well as the great work at The Royal Marsden.

Mark Ryan

He added: “It seems to have been really effective in helping them accept it and they’ve been amazing.”

And, after seeing a Race for Life ad on TV, the brother and sister had a brilliant idea.

Mark said: “They had seen people taking part in a run to raise money for cancer and they desperately wanted to do something similar to help.”

Emilie and Reece wanted to raise money for The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity. (Stephanie Belton/PA Real Life)

He added: “We deserve all the credit for the idea and for having such a positive reaction to a negative situation.

“Lara and I talked a lot about it with them and came up with a plan that would be ambitious but realistic and achievable for them.”

Starting their summer holidays in July, Reece and Emilie embarked on a daily run that would add up to the distance of a marathon by the end of the school holidays.

Mark was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in March 2022. (Collect/PA Real Life)

Mark said: “They are halfway through the challenge and have done incredibly well so far.

“There have been days when it has been hard for them to stay motivated, especially with the recent heat wave, but they go out with my wife, who has been their running partner and motivational coach, on cooler mornings and usually do about half a mile a day.”

Mark has been blown away by the donations that have flooded in.

The family initially hoped to raise £10,000 for the charity but have now reached £50,000 with a month to go. (Stephanie Belton/PA Real Life)

He said: “We initially set the target at £10,000 but we are almost at £50,000 with almost a month to go.

“I don’t think any of us expected to raise such an incredible amount of money. The support from friends, the local community and our wider network has been wonderful.

“I’m very proud of the kids and their determination to do this. I think they’re doing fantastically well so far.”



As a family, we are excited about the opportunity to give something back and help improve the lives of future patients.

Mark Ryan

Like his children, Mark is very keen to support The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity.

He said: “I am keen to raise awareness of pancreatic cancer as well as the great work at The Royal Marsden.

“I’m very impressed with the level of care and treatment I’ve received so far. I honestly can’t fault it.”

Mark says he decided to take an honest approach to discussing his diagnosis with his children. (Collection/PA Real Life)

He added: “I know there’s a lot more going on behind the scenes and as a family we’re excited about the opportunity to give something back and help improve the lives of future patients.”

Antonia Dalmahoy, chief executive of The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity, praised the family for their efforts.

He said: “We are very grateful to Mark, Reece and Emilie for supporting The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity with their challenge.”

Mark says he is very proud of his children. (Stephanie Belton/PA Real Life)

He added: “It is a testament to their resilience and generosity as a family that they have chosen to dedicate their summer to this feat, focusing their energy on helping others facing cancer.

“Reece and Emilie are making fantastic progress and we’re cheering them on every step of the way. The money raised for The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity helps fund state-of-the-art equipment, ground-breaking research and the best patient environments.

“This amazing fundraiser will make a real difference not only to cancer patients at The Royal Marsden, but across the UK and the world.”

To donate to Reece and Emilie’s fundraiser visit: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Mark-Ryan85

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