My mom, Ann A. Director, who lost her life to pancreatic cancer at age 74 in 2006.
Wage Hope to end pancreatic cancer
My personal story began when I lost my grandmother, Ida C. Allen in 1985, She was 88 years old when she died of pancreatic cancer, a disease I didn't know much about. My mother was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer in the summer of 2005, and that is when I learned much more about this devastating disese.
My mother had minor symptoms including fatigue and loss of appetite before her diagnosis. Suddenly she becamed jaundiced and immediately made an appointment with her physician. That's when she received her pancreatic cancer diagnosis. She died the following April at age 74, after a 10-month battle with the disease. My mother was the 2nd immediate family member who was taken from me by this disease.
My sister learned that Penn Medicine was conducting research with individuals who had lost two immediate relatives to pancreatic cancer. My two sisters and I signed up for the study, and then received an MRI and endoscopic ultrasound to determine if we had the disease. My sisters' results were both negative. I was tesed in February 2009 at the age of 52, and I learned that I had pre-pancreatic cancer.
The following week, Jeffrey Drebin, PhD, FACS, Chief of Gastrointestinal Surgery at Penn Medicine, performed major surgery to remove a portion of my pancreas, where the cells were located. As a result, following the surgery, I had type 2 diabetes, since the remaining portion, the head of my pancreas, couldn't produce enough insulin. The head of the Penn Medicine study, Anil Rustgi, MD, is Chief, Division of Gastroeteroogy, and the T. Grier Miller Professorship of Medicine Professor of Genetics. Penn Medicine continues to accept individuals who qualify for this study.
I am an 8-year pancreatic cancer survivor. I visit Penn Medicine annually for an MRI to make sure that no additional cancer cells have developed. My sisters continue to be tested annually as well, and my two sons will begin testing as a precautionary measure, since they could possibly be the fourth generation to deal with this disease.
Being proactive is important in the fight against pancreatic cancer. Through these tests, pancreatic cancer can be detected at an earlier stage. I was extremely lucky that the cancer was detected at this early stage. Thanks to the research at Penn, I received critical testing that saved my life.
I learned about the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network through my family's research of the disease. Last year, I walked at the PurpleStride Philadelphia event for the first time.
I am walking again on November 4 to honor the memory of my mother and my grandmother.
Ann's Dream Team is raising money in support of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network by participating in the Philadelphia PurpleStride walk on November 4.
By making a donation to our team, you are supporting efforts to double survival for this deadly disease by 2020.
Please make a donation today or join the team and help us reach our fundraising goal!