A YOUNG model was diagnosed with the most deadly form of cancer after brushing off her symptoms for months.
Tirah Ciampa, 27, was "fit and healthy" when she started to experience pain in her abdomen that got progressively worse.
The Aussie knew something was wrong but ignored the warning signs.
"It felt like I had been punched in the back," she wrote on Facebook.
But in February 2023, a biopsy revealed the Miss World Australia national finalist had pancreatic cancer after a 15x15cm tumour was found in her pancreas.
“It had been giving me a lot of pain and heart problems due to the size,” she said.
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Pancreatic cancer is the eighth most common type of cancer in Australia.
And it has the lowest survival rate of any common cancer in the country – with more than half of patients dying within three months of diagnosis.
Tirah, from Tasmania, started penning goodbye letters to her loved ones, as she predicted the worst.
"I stayed strong throughout the whole process for the people closest to me,” she added.
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It is estimated that more than 4,500 people were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2022.
The average age at diagnosis is 72 year sold.
She underwent a painstaking seven-hour surgery to remove the tumour.
The procedure required her to be hooked up to several different tubes in hospital and fed a liquid diet to survive.
Two months after the final surgery, the model was given the all clear.
Doctors told her if the cancer was left for another year or two, she would have died.
To remove the tumour, medics were forced to remove most of her pancreas.
The pancreas produces enzymes to digest food and hormones to regulate blood sugar.
This means she is likely to develop diabetes at some point in her life – a condition which takes place when the blood sugar levels are not managed.
Tirah is now calling on people to listen to their bodies, so early signs are not missed.
“Your body is a temple, it’s all we have to live in this beautiful world," she explained.
Symptoms of pancreatic cancer
Pancreatic cancer may not have any symptoms, or they might be hard to spot.
- the whites of your eyes or your skin turn yellow (jaundice), and you may also have itchy skin, darker pee and paler poo than usual
- loss of appetite or losing weight without trying to
- feeling tired or having no energy
- a high temperature, or feeling hot or shivery
- feeling or being sick
- diarrhoea or constipation, or other changes in your poo
- pain at the top part of your tummy and your back, which may feel worse when you're eating or lying down and better when you lean forward
- symptoms of indigestion, such as feeling bloated
Pancreatic cancer occurs when malignant – cancerous – cells form in the tissues of the pancreas.
As with all cancers, there are certain things that can increase the risk of developing the disease.
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According to Cancer Research UK, smoking cigarettes, cigars, pipes and chewing tobacco all increase pancreatic cancer risk.
They found that nearly one in three pancreatic cancers (about 30 per cent) may be linked to smoking.
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