In 2005, my mom and I participated in a half marathon in Nashville which was then called the Country Music Half Marathon and Marathon. It was part of the Rock N Roll series of races and they had a band playing at every mile. I ran it and she walked it, and we had a GREAT time! I ended up with my fastest half marathon time ever, and since she decided to run down the hills at the last minute (gotta love her!), she walked it at a 13.5 minute mile pace, but came in limping at the end. That is a very fast walk pace, and she was so determined to finish even though she injured herself! She was always a huge life force!
In June 2017, my mom went to the emergency room with severe abdominal pain and pain in her back and was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. The doctors told her that because it was so far along, and wrapped around the major organs in her midsection, surgery wasn't an option. Chemotherapy might have extended her life by 3 months...but she didn't want to be sick with chemo during her last days. She tried some alternative therapy, but because it was so far advanced and she had difficulty keeping anything down, she discontinued it. So, she decided to stay at home, surrounded by friends and family and all of her animals. Because she was unable to keep anything down, she was only able to take in fluids, so dropped weight at a pretty alarming rate. She often joked that she was finally the weight that she wanted to be, but it was pretty painful to watch.
This was never supposed to happen to her. She was always this healthy, strong woman and I thought she would live to be 95! We always had horses on her property and she was always outside helping with the horses, and doing her daily walks around the property with the dogs and watching the wildlife. She even owned and rode a Harley Davidson motorcycle that she learned to ride after my dad passed away as the result of injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident they were both involved in. That was a tough time for her, but she made it through that and persevered. Once she learned to ride the motorcycle, she took it everywhere! She would even ride it to work every day, sometimes in rain, sleet and snow! She was a Hair Stylist by trade, but had started to cut back her hours in her last years as she prepared for retirement with her husband John.
I HATE cancer! It has affected so many people around me, and I have been hearing more and more about Pancreatic cancer. Patrick Swayze, Steve Jobs, and now Alex Trebek were diagnosed with this horrible disease. It affects people differently, but always has a very low survival rate. My mom passed away 4 months after her diagnosis, but the mom of a friend was diagnosed shortly after my mom and just passed away this year. Another friend had it for several years, and passed a few months after my mom. Steve Jobs was still eligible for surgery and was able to keep it at bay for many years, but it got him too.
This year my sister and I decided to do the same half marathon that my mom and I completed back in 2005 in her memory. They removed Country Music from the name, and it is now the Rock N Roll Half Marathon and Marathon-Nashville. St. Judes is actually the main charity for the event, but we will proudly wear our Project Purple shirts in my mom's honor, and will be walking most of it (but running down the hills of course!).
When trying to figure out how she contracted it or if it was hereditary, I have seen some comments about working with chemicals possibly contributing to it (she worked with color and perms, etc)....as well as sugar intake. She was a huge chocoholic, as am I...and I have seen some correlation to sugar with other people that were diagnosed. In trying to figure that all out, I came across Project Purple.
Project Purple is a great charity whose primary fund raising comes from races across the country. Not only do they use the funds raised to research treatments and cures, but they also help aid patients who need it financially. I wish I would have researched this charity a little more when my mom was diagnosed, but I was actually having some health issues at the time myself and not able to do as much. But, they also help with financial aid in someone's time of need. She had medical insurance, but was always stressed about spending too much money on alternative medicine, which is another reason she discontinued it.
I would love, love, love for us to find a cure for pancreatic cancer and cancer as a whole! Wouldn't it be wonderful if cancer was eradicated from our lives? Project Purple can help move us in that direction as well as take care of patients who need assistance now.
My sister and I are completing the half marathon on April 27th and will be wearing our shirts proudly and plan to add a memorial to my mom on the back of our shirts. We are hoping to raise at least $1000 for this wonderful cause. Every little bit helps!