Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose Lyndon Johnson

Keeping a strong mind

We talked to people living with pancreatic cancer about the things that help them cope with the more challenging aspects of living with their illness. ​

I’m not thinking too much about what will happen next year, I’m taking one step at a time and being hopeful. Stress is the most important thing to manage. If your stress is down I am sure you recover faster, that’s what I think.

Navin, 44yrs with pancreatic cancer

Patients told us about some of the activities that make a difference to them and help them to keep their mind strong. Some of these activities included spending time with grandchildren, gardening and being in nature, art and creativity, meditation, music, exercise and taking care of your spiritual self.

Importantly people told us that these activities help them live well day to day.

It’s the ongoing how do you enjoy life. I know people have different mental makeups … some people might be able to cope and say bugger this I’m going to live every day, you know, party on!

Steve, 69yrs diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2013

Gardens & Nature

Being in gardens and the natural environment has been shown to have a positive effect on wellbeing and in reducing stress levels.​

Breathing in fresh air and feeling the breeze on your face can be restoring. Even a short drive with some views of the bush or being in a space with plants and greenery is restful. ​

Growing plants and cultivating produce can be enjoyable and satisfying. ​

orchid in garden

I love the garden. I put in tomatoes to grow and feed the family. I cut the grass, I have plenty of grass here so it takes 2 days to cut it. One day I cut half and another day I cut the other half.

Spiros, 71yrs living well with pancreatic cancer


Science is discovering many benefits to listening to music, such as making you feel happier, lowering stress, improving mood and reducing pain. This is because our brain releases the “feel good” chemical dopamine, when we listen to music.

Choosing music that you enjoy is important. Research has shown that calming and classical music may also be particularly helpful.

People who sing in choirs and community groups say they feel fresh and uplifted after singing with a group.

Are you enjoying the power of music?

Think about going to a concert if you are able to or enjoy your favourite music at home.

I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from.

Billy Joel, 69yrs

Art & Creativity

It can be easy to become immersed in creative activities. Doing creative activities can focus our mind in the present moment, distracting us from worries we may have.

Mosaics, woodworking, knitting, painting, coloring in, decorating cakes – whatever it is that you enjoy can take you away from worries and assist in enjoying the here and now. ​

Navin, aged 44yrs with pancreatic cancer spent 2-3 hours most days painting over the time he was having chemotherapy in 2017. ​ It was a calming experience:

I started painting again. That keeps me engaged and makes me forget things. Art is a process and you look forward to it every day. Yeah, it is calming for my mind…

Navin. Australian Galah, 2017. Acrylic paint.