In 2017, I ran my first marathon as part of the Project Purple Bank of America Chicago Marathon team. In 2018, I finished my second full marathon as part of the Project Purple TCS New York City Marathon team. This upcoming fall, I will run my third marathon - the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C. - as part of Project Purple's Pioneer Program. My relationship with Project Purple started as an opportunity to run a marathon in honor and memory of Frank Citera, someone I never had the opportunity to meet, but is a very important person to many individuals I deeply care about, and thus has become - and continues to be - a very important figure to me. Frank passed away from pancreatic cancer in 2011, and left behind a beautiful legacy of family, friends, wisdom, good humor, and love, that is very much so alive and well today.
My experience quickly evolved, however, into an even larger opportunity to represent, advocate for, and contribute to an organization that provides resources, support, and hope to individuals and families facing the horrors of pancreatic cancer everywhere. Here are a few jarring statistics/facts about pancreatic cancer:
1. The survival rate after five years is only six percent - the lowest of all major cancers.
2. Pancreatic cancer only receives five percent of the funds allocated by the government for cancer research.
3. Only 15 - 20 percent of those diagnosed with PC will be eligible for surgery.
4. The symptoms of pancreatic cancer are incredibly ambiguous and difficult to pinpoint. Due to this, doctors are often unable to diagnose until the disease is in its later stages, leading to a very high mortality rate.
5. Pancreatic cancer is currently ranked as #3 on the list of 10 deadliest cancers. Researchers project it will be #2 by 2020.
Beyond working to change these staggering statistics, Project Purple is remarkable in that it creates a home for its survivors, families, runners, partners, and friends, all rooted in a collective effort to defeat this terrible disease. Whether it be through social media, the ever-expanding programs and resources provided, inspirational gifts and letters that arrive when one least expects them, the highly personal approach staff take to engaging with families, patients, and runners, or the recent efforts to continue to evolve in reach, Project Purple's ability to create such a supportive, motivated, and optimistic community is truly incredible.
So here I am, approaching another fall running season, ready to aid in these efforts for a third time. Project Purple's mission is to find a cure for pancreatic cancer and to improve the lives of patients through support, hope, and compassion. The money raised for Project Purple helps to fulfill this mission by providing funding for critical pancreatic cancer research, as well as the organization's Patient Financial Aid program.
It is for all of these reasons I continue to work toward the collective mission of combatting pancreatic cancer and growing this incredible family of support, hope, resilience, and love, by raising awareness of and fundraising for Project Purple while running the 2019 Marine Corps Marathon as part of the 2019 Pioneer Program team.
Your gift means the world to me, and even more so, to the network of individuals - across the world - that have been touched by this horrible disease.