Former NSW MP for Newcastle, Bryce Gaudry at his Merewether home, after undergoing months of treatment for pancreatic cancer.
A former New South Wales Labor backbencher has spoken out about his battle with pancreatic cancer and how cannabis oil has become a vital part of his ongoing treatment.
Bryce Gaudry was the Labor MP for the state seat of Newcastle from 1991 to 2007 but he is now speaking out for the first time about being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer less than a year ago.
Pancreatic cancer is the ninth most common cancer in men and 10th most common cancer in women in Australia.
But survival rates are very low, as it is most often diagnosed at an advanced stage and pancreatic cancer is the fifth most common cause of cancer deaths in Australia.
After being diagnosed in March 2016, Bryce Gaudry said he was lucky to be offered the chance to undergo major surgery known as a Whipple procedure.
"Pancreatic cancer has got one of the poorest rates of survival, I think it's between five and seven per cent of people survive to a five year period," he said.
"In fact the Cancer Council says about 30 per cent of people die within about two months of the diagnosis, so it's a fairly late diagnosed cancer.
"For many people, they don't have the opportunity of having this Whipple operation.
Major surgery takes toll
"The operation is a fairly massive one, it removes your gall bladder, it takes the majority of the pancreas.
"In my case it took my duodenum, and the bottom section of my stomach including the pyloric valve and they're all stitched back together and you've got a much simplified digestive system after that.
"He then underwent seven months of chemotherapy, but in the meantime turned to cannabis oil to manage what he describes as appalling nausea symptoms.
Former Newcastle MP Bryce Gaudry shows the scar left by major surgery for pancreatic cancer, known as a 'Whipple' procedure.
"One of my surprises has been there hasn't been any great increase in the survival rates for pancreatic cancer in the last 30 years.
"Despite oncology, despite research, there's obviously still a very low survival rate.
"My belief is that I should use every possible means I can to increase any chance that I might have of survival and we were lucky that a friend of ours was kind enough to give us some cannabis oil.
"When I came home from hospital I was in a very sick state for some time. I was vomiting constantly, projectile vomiting, it was really driving me down.
"Within three days (of taking cannabis oil) my nausea and vomiting went away, so I decided at that stage that I would continue to use it."
Support group and family vital in coping with cancer diagnosis
Mr Gaudry said the support of his family as well as a Cancer Council telephone support group specifically for pancreatic cancer sufferers, has enabled him to get through the past year of treatment.
"We hook up every fortnight by phone, people from Adelaide, people from Melbourne, people from Sydney, all on the same pathway through cancer.
"That's a very beneficial thing for people suffering from cancer to join a support group."
He said his major hope now was for more research into diagnosing pancreatic cancer early, as he waited to find out his own prognosis after months of treatment.
"I think it's important that we get as much research as possible on pancreatic cancer to try to find a way to get an early diagnosis so people don't have that very much lowered survival rate of a late diagnosis.
Former Newcastle Labor MP Bryce Gaudry with his wife Barbara at their Merewether home.