CARLISLE’S former MP has urged people to get their symptoms checked as he reflects on his recovery from cancer almost a decade ago.

Eric Martlew, who was the city’s MP from 1987 to 2010, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in spring 2011.

“I retired in the June and the following spring I called into the doctors for an asthma check,” he explained.

“I said, ‘by the way, my urine is the colour of Newcastle Brown ale’.

“They said, ‘We better have a sample’. The doctor said to me, ‘Come back tomorrow’.

“I went back and saw my GP and he said ‘this is very serious, we need to send you to hospital’.

“They said you have jaundice and you will need a minor operation. You have a bile duct blocked by a tumour.”

He was then sent to Freeman Hospital in Newcastle for further tests.

“I was told I had pancreatic cancer and I would need a serious operation which will be an eight to 10-hour operation,” he said.

After 10 days in Freeman Hospital, he returned home. He then had six months of chemotherapy.

“It wasn’t very pleasant but it was not as bad as I thought it might be,” continued Eric.

“It’s something I haven’t really talked about but I thought it was time to say you need to get your symptoms tested.

“Go to your GP. I know it’s not easy at the moment but a delay can be fatal. Get checked early. You have a much better chance of recovering if it is detected early.”

Mr Martlew was speaking as part of World Pancreatic Day today. The former MP, now 71, outlined the hardest part of his cancer journey.

“It was waiting to see when they could operate. Now they say you should be operated on within 28 days and I think I was just over that.

“Before the operation, we [Eric and his wife Elsie] stayed in a hotel near the Freeman Hospital.

“You are scared about whether you will come through. The fact it was a five per cent survival concentrates your mind.”

After regular checks in the aftermath of his treatment, Eric has not seen a medical professional about the cancer for more than four years.

Symptoms of pancreatic cancer can include:

  • the whites of your eyes or your skin turn yellow (jaundice), 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.