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Consultant Surgeon Neil Pearce pays tribute to Gloria Minghella who sadly passed away in March.

‘Gloria Minghella was the kind of patient you only meet once in a career, from the moment I met her I realised that being over 80 was not going to be an obstacle for her. She was bright, determined and courageous, always thinking of her family and others ahead of herself. For me the most important factor in patient selection before high risk, major surgery is a positive attitude and Gloria had this in abundance. She had spent her life defying the odds as a woman in business, innovating and taking on new challenges; there was no question as to how she was going to approach her illness and treatment.

Pancreatic cancer is a cruel disease and there are no shortcuts in it’s treatment, Gloria underwent an 8 hour total pancreatectomy, with portal vein reconstruction and splenectomy. This is a big ask for any patient and I cannot pretend that it was plain sailing immediately afterwards, but none the less a few weeks later she was home and on the road to recovery.

The way she worked with the nurses, physios and doctors to build herself up again was extraordinary, she was so determined to get her former health and fitness back and play an active role in her family, community and business again. She was an inspiration to all of the team and really set the standard for what you can achieve with determination and the support of a loving family.

She completed a course of chemotherapy earlier this year and we all were hoping that she would be able to look forward to a period of good health. However this was not to be and she passed away unexpectedly shortly after. Whether this was related to recurrence of her disease or the huge stress of her treatments or an unrelated condition we will never know for sure.

It was truly a privilege to have been involved with her care, some may question whether the extra time we bought her was worth the hardship she went through, but for Gloria this was not a question, although she had led an incredibly full life she was doing this for her family and still had so much more to give. She has also set an example for younger, fitter patients facing similar surgery, but with lower risks and a better chance of long term cure. Gloria was always a trail blazer and through the way she faced her treatment she will still be able act as an inspiration to those daunted by the same challenges that she surmounted at the age of 83.

I cannot begin to imagine how much she will be missed by her family and friends.’


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