Whanganui woman Val Goulding risked death with two pancreatic cancer operations and their complications, but at 78, her life is good on the whole.
She contacted the Whanganui Chronicle after reading Prue Carver's story about surviving pancreatic cancer. Only 10 per cent of those who have it are still alive after five years.
Goulding is in the 1 per cent still alive after 10 years - it's been 14 years since she was diagnosed in 2007.
"I might be the longest survivor in New Zealand, and possibly in other countries as well," she said.
"The point of doing this is to let other people know that you can survive it and you can have a normal life."
Aged 64, she and her husband were working a hill country farm near Akaroa in the South Island. She was often tired at the end of the day and had persistent pain in her right side.
Her doctor kept saying it was referred pain from her back. Finally, she went to her husband's doctor who sent her straight to hospital for a scan. It found a tumour on her pancreas.
"Then it was all on. I was in hospital in next to no time. If they had left it longer I wouldn't have survived."
Surgery to remove the tumour was risky, and she was told she could expect to survive three years. She had the surgery, which removed most of her pancreas. The three years of recovery were long and hard.
The pancreas produces insulin and without it she became an instant diabetic, needing injections of insulin at least three times a day. She developed a hernia as a result of the surgery, and also Crohn's disease, a chronic inflammatory bowel disease that required a change of diet.
The hernia pain got worse, but her Christchurch specialist said she risked death if he operated.
Just over two years ago, Goulding made the move to Whanganui. A surgeon here was willing to do the hernia operation, and by then it was worth the risk.
"I couldn't go on living the way I was," she said.
The operation was done in June and July, and Goulding survived it.
"It's been a tough year, what with the Covid restrictions and being at home after surgery, but that goes for a lot of other people."
Now at 78, she tires more easily, but can still go on Take It Easy Tours and breed cocker spaniels and spoodles - spaniel-poodle crosses. She's finding Whanganui has a lot of other things to get involved in too.
"I have been extremely lucky.
"A lot has got to do with your thinking. Don't think 'sick'. You have to be positive and keep your outside interests alive," she said.
The Gut Cancer Foundation had no record of Goulding's experience with pancreatic cancer, spokeswoman Dr Sharon Pattison said. However, it would like to know more and Goulding will provide details.
Surviving 14 years after a diagnosis put Goulding into the 1 per cent that had survived more than 10 years, Pattison said.
November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month.