Living in the shadow of cancer survival statistics

Bryony Thomas
2 min readOct 1, 2020


Pancreatic adenocarcinoma has a 7% five-year survival rate, and a 1% ten-year survival rate.

Anyone diagnosed with cancer has mortality thrust in their face. Anyone who survives cancer has the chance of recurrence to live with. So, whilst I don’t doubt that we’re all grateful to be here, feeling like you’re playing daily game of Russian Roulette is exhausting.

And, all cancer survivors are invited to play…

For some only one bullet is loaded in the barrel each year. For others one bullet in the barrel each day. And, for some of us only one space in one barrel in the arsenal of ten guns we draw from each day is free of a life-ending bullet.

We all have to wake up and place the trigger against our temple each day and fire. But, for some the odds are more heavily stacked.

How do I live with this?

Do I pretend it’s not happening and plan as if my life expectancy is normal for anyone of my age? Do I accept that I may not be here for long and pack in piles of life experiences in the time I have? Do I live each day as if it’s my last?

My answer is to try to bridge all three. Where I am today (9 months on from my diagnosis), I feel comfortable to plan for the next twelve months, and to do so in a way that can be built on thereafter in the hope that I am here to do so. Within that, and the current Covid restrictions, I’m trying to do nice things — I’d travel if I could, but hey ho. I’ve not given in to daily hedonistic abandon, I certainly can understand people who do — but, I am giving myself permission to enjoy little indulgences.

Family on a beach
Holiday in Cornwall — August 2020

What can someone who hasn’t run this gauntlet take from this? What do I want you to know or do as a result of reading this?

I think we should all be aware that a cancer survivor may look well and happy, but the burden is every day, and forever.

Sometimes they’ll carry the weight with ease, sometimes it will be too much. Understand and forgive how they might behave in these moments. Those of us facing the grimest of survival statistics may often stumble under the weight. Watch out for it, be there to hear it, and help us back up.

This is my personal experience, shared to give a perspective on living with cancer.



Bryony Thomas

Pancreatic cancer survivor. Good enough Mum. Sometimes fun wife and friend. Founder of Watertight Marketing.