On May 3, 2012 my Dad, Kelley Murphy, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Stage 4. At the time I didn't know much about pancreatic cancer. What I learned through research was not what I wanted to see. I couldn’t believe something as inconsequential as a stomach ache had turned to something so grim. I live roughly 725 miles from where I grew up and from where my Dad would be battling for his life. I had no outlet for my thoughts or emotions. When he received his diagnosis, I had been running in preparation for my annual USAF fitness test. As part of that I had recently run a 5K and discovered I really liked being around runners. For me, our Wichita, KS running community is incredibly encouraging and the people seem to genuinely care for one another.
When my Dad began his fight with pancreatic cancer, apart from the weakness he suffered due to a prolonged initial hospital stay, a person on the outside could not tell a difference in him. In fact, just a day or so after his release he was across the street helping a new neighbor repair his central a/c unit. My Dad was always very hard working, and always there for anyone that needed him. He loved life, God, his wife, his family, his friends, his church, Atlanta Braves baseball, and the University of Alabama. My Dad was also a strong man. Anyone who met him saw the incredible strength he possessed. His strength was evident in the way he fought the cancer, the way he refused to give up, and the way he never let the gravity of his diagnosis affect his outlook on life. He was set on beating pancreatic cancer. He put up a good fight, outliving his initial prognosis of six months. However, my father passed away on February 24, 2013 at the age of 52.
I am asked all the time why I run. I'm not fast, I'm not winning any races or breaking records. So why do it? I miss my Dad terribly. I think about him on my runs, I think about others that are fighting for their lives, and I think about their loved ones. I think about the helplessness that I felt when my Dad was going through all of this. It's a feeling that I wouldn't wish upon anyone. We've got to do something to stop pancreatic cancer! That is why I run.
I found Project Purple by accident and I realized that I could raise money to help fight this terrible disease. In 2015 we raised $1,700 that was sent to do a number of things like funding research grants and patient aid programs that supports patients struggling with medical, pharmaceutical, and everyday living expenses related to their fight against pancreatic cancer. I am running a couple of big races races this year. I will be attempting the Pikes Peak Ascent in August and I will be running the Prairie Fire Marathon in October. I'm not going to win either race, but we are going to win the battle against pancreatic cancer!
Some Key Stats: Pancreatic cancer is expected to be the #2 killer of cancer-related deaths by 2020. The survival rate after 5 years is only 9%. 54,000 people will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2017.
What is Project Purple? Project Purple is a Connecticut-based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization created to raise awareness, support patients and families affected by the disease, and fund research efforts to defeat pancreatic cancer.