Pancreatic cancer survivor to mark 'whippleversary' with sky dive

Gwen Touhami will mark four years since life saving pancreatic cancer surgery with a sky dive in June for Big C.

Gwen Touhami will mark four years since life saving pancreatic cancer surgery with a sky dive in June for Big C. - Credit: Clarissa Place

A Norwich woman is to launch herself out of a plane on the four year 'whippleversary' of life-saving surgery for pancreatic cancer, which was found after she went for a drink at Costa with friends.

Gwen Touhami, 52, from Sprowston, said if the events of March 23, 2017, had been any different she "would not be here" after she went to A&E with a suspected gallstones episode. 

Scans and a biopsy found the mum-of-four had a 2cm tumour on the head of her pancreas and required Whipple surgery at Addenbrooke's, in Cambridge, to remove a third of her pancreas, gallbladder, bile duct, duodenum and part of her stomach. 

Gwen Touhami pictured post chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer.

Gwen Touhami pictured with her daughter Leila post chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer. - Credit: Gwen Touhami

She is now taking on the skydive challenge with two of her sons, Yousef and Samir, for Big C, which supported Miss Touhami after her diagnosis. 

Miss Touhami, who is also mum to Naseem and Leila, said: “Pancreatic cancer is difficult to spot until it’s too late as there are no signs and symptoms. My gallstones and my colleagues who dragged me down to A&E and my surgeon and medical/oncology teams are the reason I am still alive.

"Thankfully they found my tumour, although I would gladly have taken a diagnosis of trapped wind as one of my colleagues jokingly suggested it might be. 

Gwen pictured with her eldest son Naseem at Christmas time following her surgery.

Gwen pictured with her eldest son Naseem at Christmas time following her surgery. - Credit: Gwen Touhami

"If I had not had a Costa gingerbread latte that lunchtime with my friends, if I had not been dragged to A&E by my wonderful colleagues, if one of those little gallstones had not been in the bile duct, I would not be here today.

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"If I’d been at home, not at work on March 23, 2017, I would almost certainly not be here today and looking forward to the future with my four wonderful kids and their partners."

Gwen Touhami one week post the gruelling Whipple surgery to remove the tumour in her pancreas.

Gwen Touhami one week post the gruelling Whipple surgery to remove the tumour in her pancreas. - Credit: Gwen Touhami

Following the procedure, Miss Touhami, a medical secretary at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, could only eat jelly, ice cream and thin broths to begin with.

In a subsequent check up it was found she had stage two cancer, and she faced chemotherapy after the operation.

Gwen, Naseem, Yousef and Leila Touhami before her surgery on June 26 2017.

Gwen pictured with three of her children Naseem, Yousef and Leila before her surgery on June 26 2017. - Credit: Gwen Touhami

The sky dive has been delayed more than a year due to the pandemic, and Miss Touhami hopes she will get the chance on June 26, to mark her fourth 'whippleversary'.

To support Gwen, visit her fundraising page at https://fundraise.big-c.co.uk/fundraising/fundraising-pages/gwens-jump-for-big-c/

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