My knees are weak and my heart a bit jittery just thinking about lacing up shoes at the starting line of the 50th Anniversary NYC Marathon!
This will be my 12th event representing Project Purple across 4 states and 5 cities. I've run through the streets of Husker Nation, the Windy City and the Mini-Apple; climbed up the Grand Canyon; walked with survivors and four generations of my family; and, am now heading to the Big Apple to continue this fight.
My story starts as it does with so many others. . .within a few months of her diagnosis, my grandmother passed away from pancreatic cancer. Were there warning signs? Simply a nagging stomach ache that she tried to ignore.
We raise a lot of money through Project Purple for research and financial support for patients. Our founder, Dino Verrelli, announced this past December the kick-off for the Precede Consortium - a highly collaborative international effort to improve survival for pancreatic cancer by improving early detection, screening, risk modeling and prevention for those with a heritable (yes, that's a word) risk for pancreatic cancer. It is the largest effort of its kind, and utilizes a novel model of collaboration and data sharing (34 centers worldwide). How was this possible? Through monies raised through events at which we're a recognized charity - like the NYC Marathon.
Also in December last year, the Defense Department Bill included a government funded research grant for pancreatic cancer. . .for the 1st time. This resulted in a $6 million grant which is amazing, but (there's always a "but", right?) to put things in perspective: $150 million was granted to breast cancer, $110 million to prostate cancer, $35 million to ovarian cancer. . .pancreatic cancer is the 2nd deadliest cancer. So, to someone like me, this math doesn't make sense. Of course, I am so grateful that funding goes to cancer - any kind of cancer. I just wish more was going to pancreatic cancer. In addition to being the 2nd deadliest cancer, the 5 year survival rate is only 10%. And, a side note, it takes about $15 million to simply get a lab off the ground so $6 million only gets us halfway to the starting line for a research project.
The money we raise is through the sweat, tears, and hard work of runners like me, walkers, cross-fitters, hikers, volunteers, and so many, many more people including our donors. Yes, we raise a lot of money - millions - but as I stated above, it simply is not enough. We really aren't greedy, we are smart with our money, and we are passionate. This is why year after year I reach out to you to ask for your support. I promise I will work hard for every dollar you donate.
I run for my grandmother and so many others including my friend and co-worker, Ellen, who after a fierce battle passed away on December 2, 2018 - just a few months short of her 5 year anniversary. Ellen was 56 years old.
We celebrate achievements, like going from a 5% survival rate to 10%. But this is where we are greedy - we want to eradicate this cancer that some people call the "silent killer". I don't like using these kinds of words. I'm sensitive that some of my friends are living through the hell of pancreatic cancer and I pray for them every day that they will be part of the 10%. I don't want to bring them down, but rather raise them up.
Join me in this fight. Run with us. Walk with us. Cross fit with us. Pint with us. Donate.
You are the difference maker.