In 2008, I decided it was time to check something off of my "bucket list" - run a marathon. I ran in Charlotte, North Carolina among thousands of other runners and walkers. It was an amazing experience; so much so, that I went back and did that race two more times.
Looking back on those races, I remember seeing the grit and intention on so many runners' and walkers' faces. Incredible determination. At the time, I was running for "me". My running felt great, improved my health, and introduced me to many new friends.
Flash forward a few years when I was introduced to Project Purple. It was definitely destiny that brought me to this incredible organization. Since that time, my runs (training runs and races) are all dedicated to Project Purple's mission to get to a world without pancreatic cancer.
My grandmother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer when she was in her 60's. Within a few months, she had lost her battle. I have memories of spending time with my grandmother but they are far too few.
Running for Project Purple started in honor of my grandmother. While training for my first Project Purple event and during my fundraising, I came to learn of many others who had fought this cancer and others in the fight for their lives. An example is a good friend and former co-worker. Ellen fought bravely and almost made it to 5 years. But, as is too often the case, she was among the more than 90% who do NOT get to a five year anniversary date from the date of diagnosis.
My guess is that someone in your life has been personally touched by this cancer. I pray for your family, friend, and you.
If you are among the lucky ones not to witness someone going through this cancer, you likely do know or have heard of someone who has. The list of "famous" people who endured pancreatic cancer is beyond comprehension. Here are just a few warriors you may have heard of who have fought or are fighting this cancer: Dizzy Gillespie (jazz musician), Alan Rickman and John Hurt (both of Harry Potter fame), Luciano Pavarotti (Italian opera singer), Alex Trebek (Jeopardy), Steve Jobs (Apple),Jack Benney (comedian), Aretha Franklin (Queen of Soul), Bob Gibson (baseball), RBG (Supreme Court Justice), William Joplin and his mom (MMA fighter), Mickey Spillane (crime novelist), George Halas (Chicago Bears head coach), John Lewis and Harry Reid (politicians), Wernher von Braun (Saturn V lead designer). And the list goes on.
Can you think of a single common thread that runs through these individuals except for them being human and having suffered through pancreatic cancer? Not a single thing. This is the point. Pancreatic cancer doesn't care how smart you are, how fit you are, how funny you are, how wealthy you, or how creative you. It also doesn't matter if you have the character of Job.
Despite our losses from this cancer, pancreatic cancer remains one of the lowest funded cancers. We truly believe that a break-through is just around the corner. We believe that through early detection testing, once identified and developed, that we can flip the numbers so that 90%+ not only see their 5th year anniversary but defeat it period. To get there, we need funding.
November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness month. Throughout the month, I'll share information about it as well as provide updates about what Project Purple is doing to beat it and to assist patients and their families during the process. You'll have opporunities to participate in events (some virtual, some local). I will really appreciate you sharing those posts to help spread awareness.
Please join me in praying for and supporting the true warriors who are fighting pancreatic cancer. If you can, please make a donation today. Please also invite others to donate.
Ever grateful to run. Ever grateful to serve.