Saturday, November 1, 2014

November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness month!

November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness month. November holds an additional significance for me because I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer on November 18, 2013. I am just a couple of weeks away from my one year anniversary. By making it one year, I will have survived longer than 75% of people who are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. 

I bought this shirt to run in:

On the back, it says, "Aiming for the 6%", which is the overall five year survival rate.  It honestly still feels surreal to think that I had Pancreatic Cancer. A lot of this last year feels surreal. But, I have the scars and the pathology report that can quickly bring me back to the reality of it all.

Last Sunday evening there was an event in Denver called the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network Purple Light. This is an event that honors survivors and remembers those who have been lost to Pancreatic Cancer. We met on the capital steps at 5 pm. I got to meet people I had been in communication with via facebook.

Here I am with Karl, who is in charge of media relations in the Denver area. Karl lost his wife to Pancreatic Cancer. 
This is Beth, who is in charge of putting together the Purple Stride. Beth was 5 years old when she lost her mother to Pancreatic Cancer. Her mother was only 37 years old when she passed. Beth is frustrated because the survival statistics have barely changed in the time since she lost her mother.

Just prior to the ceremony beginning, we gathered for a survivor's photo. As you can see, there are only ten of us. We didn't really know one another, but it was a happy occasion to see, talk with and hug others who were part of this very small club. (Photo credit to Beth Corlett)

People sitting on the steps to honor their loved ones.

I have been lucky enough over the past couple of weeks to get to spend time with others who have been impacted by Pancreatic Cancer. First I spent an afternoon with Elli from Project Purple.

Then I got to spend an evening in Denver at the Purple Light event. I cannot express strongly enough how powerful of an experience it is to meet and talk with others who have a connection to this cancer. We all understand what a devastating diagnosis it is, whether we are survivors or family members who have lost a loved one to the disease.  It is the club that none of us asked to join or wants to belong to, but since we are here, we have a strong bond that unites us against a common enemy. 

I hope that November brings as much support and recognition to Pancreatic Cancer that other cancers have received. Too many lives have been lost. Too many families have been torn apart. Too many survivors continue to struggle with guilt for being one of the very few who are fortunate enough to make it. We need more funding, more research dollars and more public support to battle this illness. I will be making a couple of announcements in the coming weeks about things I will be doing to make a difference for the future of Pancreatic Cancer. I am very energized and excited about some upcoming projects that are in the works. Stay tuned and wear your purple!


  1. Good for you in getting involved with Pancreatic Cancer related awareness events! I am hoping to do the same for Thyroid Cancer. Had a "friend" make a comment to me last year, "I hope you are not going to be one of THOSE people who gets cancer and then that's all your life is about.....cancer and related things..." I stood there, shocked if not somewhat hurt and not sure what to say because, fact is, cancer changes your life and your loved ones lives. You and I and others are not ONLY about surviving cancer but cancer does puts a whole new spin on everything related to our life's story. It leaves a definite fingerprint on our lives. And I, like you, desire to be involved in support and pushing for further research. It is not good for treatment protocols to be antiquated one-size-fits-all. Go for it! Your post made me realize I need to forget about the naysayers that roll their eyes because we choose to get involved. Thank you. And good luck tomorrow!!! I hope you get positive feedback that you have been treated appropriately and as well as possible. If not, I hope they give you authoritative and wise guidance for the future. Will keep you in my thoughts and prayers! :-)

    1. I hope you gave that person the heave ho. I have been waiting for someone to make that kind of comment to me. I don't think you can underestimate the effect this kind of diagnosis has on your life. It doesn't mean you curl up in the fetal position, but taking positive action is helpful for others and healing for us. How can anyone say that trying to make positive changes for future patients is in any way a bad thing? I feel sorry for someone who cannot see that this is not just about us. It is about the future and helping others. Will let you know how things go and we will reschedule our coffee date!

  2. Yes, please let me know what you find out. And we will reschedule our coffee date, for sure! The hurtful comment from the person referenced above came about 4 weeks after my almost 8 hour surgery, so yes, I was fairly concerned about cancer..... (and still am!) :-)

    1. When people behave in a cold and callous manner, I always wonder how they will feel when something happens to them or a loved one. I bet they will feel quite differently about it!