My mother has pancreatitis, on account of having a large mass of malignant cancer cells growing inside her pancreas. When you have pancreatitis, your pancreas swells, putting pressure on all the other sensitive organs in the area, and causing lower back pain. The pancreas is also, possibly, the least accessible organ in the body. Hard for scopes to find. Often you have to opt for an uncomfortable and expensive MRI scan to even see the thing.

In our family it is one of those disquieting cases of Canada's health care system letting us down. They kept my mother waiting for her MRI for two months, with a cancer the leaves its victims with an average six to eight month life span...they were thinking of going down to the states and paying for it, when suddenly she was somehow bumped up a few weeks. Weird.

Alcoholism is one cause of cancers and pancreatic disorders, but many sufferers of pancreatititis (and / or) pancreatic cancer have lived some part of their lives with fumes from burning fossil fuels, like:

  • kerosene lamps
  • gas refineries
  • coal
  • natural gas

It's difficult to prove a link to the above factors but with all the research on environmental hazard and so-called free radicals there are a few antioxidant vitamin treatments out there that seem to help some pancreatitis patients - of course it doesn't cure pancreatic cancer. That takes chemotherapy and surgery, and has a very low success rate -- few patients make it to surgery.

In my mother's case, she grew up in the UK, and has stories of pea soup fog as like you've never seen - caused by coal fires. She also lived in Kuala Lumpur for four years, and there are lots of diesel vehicles driving around that part of the world...but ultimately, what does it matter where it came from; it's here. She's having chemo treatments. She's doing okay so far.