Once again, I'm supporting the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network by participating in Purple Stride, a fundraising event in Madison, Wisconsin. It's on May 6th this year.
That day is also Emily's and my 39th wedding anniversary--a day I might not have ever expected to see, a few years ago.
It was April 2009. My physician had thought my problem was gallstones, so I asked the ultra-sound technician in the Health Partners Clinic if that place she kept scanning repeatedly was my gall bladder. She replied, "No, it's the pancreas."
That didn't sound good. I remarked, "Oh, that's one of those stealth organs."
Little did I know . . .
Pancreatic cancer is the third-ranking cause of cancer deaths in the US.
The chance of surviving even for five years after diagnosis is a dismal 9%.
PCAN is dedicated to improving the prospects of each patient's survival, by funding research, by connecting patients to on-going clinical trials of new or experimental treatments, and by providing information to the public and to those in the medical professions.
Early detection and treatment and a lot of luck helped me out.
95% of pancreatic tumors occur as the extremely aggressive adenocarcinoma type, but my tumor was a one-in-twenty long shot. The pathology report showed it was a rare neuroendocrine, or islet cell, neoplasm. The oncologist on my case told me later that it was similar to what Steve Jobs had suffered from.
In May of 2009, I went to Regions Hospital for radical abdominal surgery. The outcome was successful. That means I'm still around, to celebrate the long-ago day when my bride and I hopefully recited our vows. (And still around to dedicate the months and years ahead to building up resistance against bigotry, ignorance, and tyranny.)
My earliest encounter with the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network was at the Madison Purple Stride in 2013.
I cried as I read the tributes many families had written on a large banner--hundreds of heartfelt messages, grieving for loved ones lost to a disease so few had heard of before it struck them, and for which comparatively little was being done to develop earlier detection and more effective treatments.
I'd been incredibly fortunate to beat the long odds. And Purple Stride showed me a practical way to help other patients and their families, as they face the painfully isolating ordeal of cancer and the fearful prospect of confronting a daunting course of difficult medical treatment.
This will be the ninth Purple Stride event I've participated in. Your gift will enhance the research funded by PCAN and assist in underwriting the valuable services this organization provides to patients and their families. PCAN's slogan is "wage hope."
The hope of combating this dread disease continues to depend on scientific research, despite the ascendancy in our benighted nation of a bizarre political and cultural contempt for science.
And if you're going to be in or near Madison on May 6th, come over to Warner Park for the event.
Thank you. --- Oliver