Brian’s Story

Friends of the Cancer Centre very proudly funds our Oncology Specialist Dietitian, Sophie, in caring for local people affected by pancreatic and oesophageal cancers. Sophie’s care and support is a huge help for people who are affected by these complex cancers and the side effects they can pose.

Brian Magennis, 49, from Poyntzpass, Newry, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in November 2020. Brian has been provided with dietetic support from Sophie for the duration of his treatment.

Speaking about his experiences, Brian said:

“Initially, I underwent a Whipple procedure at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast. During this surgery, which is one of the most common treatments for pancreatic cancer, part of the pancreas is removed. Understandably, this meant I had to make some adaptations to my diet, with the reduction in the pancreas leading to changes in the way I was able to digest food.

“Following my surgery, I commenced chemotherapy treatment at the NI Cancer Centre in February 2021. Here I met Sophie, and I have been supported by her ever since. I have had some really helpful conversations with Sophie during the course of my treatment.

“I was advised to take both Creon and Omeprazole to help with digestion, as my pancreas no longer made enough enzymes, and to reduce the amount of acid my stomach was making, as that would also hinder digestion. I was really struggling with this at first, but with Sophie’s advice on how to manage my intake to ensure the best results, I now have it in a place where I am much more at ease with my digestion and normalisation. I hope to see further improvements as I completed my chemotherapy treatment recently, and I’m moving into the next stage of my recovery in a more normalised state.

“Sophie’s support has had a really positive impact on me. We had great discussions on the importance of good weight retention throughout my treatment, the importance of my diet, and the possible impact of some foods on the system post-surgery. Sophie’s knowledge on the changes I should make, and her advice on how to manage side effects was simply invaluable.

“We also had interesting discussions on the fitness and exercise trial in which I am taking part in, in conjunction with Queens University Belfast, Belfast City Hospital and Pancreatic Cancer UK. Sophie had completed some studies on pancreatic cancer from a dietary perspective and was interested in the outcomes of my experience in this exercise study.

“The support of all the staff in the Cancer Centre goes without saying. Alongside Sophie, there is a tremendous team that offers so much dedicated care and support through alI stages of treatment. I also had great support through the 24 hour telephone helpline. I had a number of infections through the treatment and the calmness and speed of their advice on next steps was great in dealing with these.

“Throughout my treatment, I always felt that I was in a position of knowing what was happening. The team kept me fully informed throughout, they were at hand as and when required, and were always so helpful.

“I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who generously supports the work of Friends of the Cancer Centre. Without you, Sophie’s post wouldn’t have been funded by the charity, and the invaluable help that she has given me during my treatment wouldn’t have been there. Each time you take part in a fundraiser, donate a penny or two, or help the charity raise awareness in other ways, you are helping someone just like me.”

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