In December of
Ken was diagnosed
pancreas. He was
only 46 and the most
During his fight with
pancreatic cancer, I
promised myself that
I would do anything and everything I could to help him fight
the disease. I did the research online, contacted doctors,
searched clinical trials and reached out to the Pancreatic
Cancer Action Network.
I really believe we did do all we could, but it wasn’t enough.
The tools we needed simply weren’t available. They hadn’t
been developed yet. There was no hope. Ken survived
months, longer than most, but not long enough. Not long
enough to spend time with his children, golf with his friends,
or grow old with me.
Two weeks after his death, I joined the Detroit Affiliate to hand
out wristbands at the Detroit Lions game. I’ve been an active
volunteer since. I really didn’t know much about politics, but
advocacy interested me. When I went to the second annual
Pancreatic Cancer Advocacy Day in Washington, DC in 2007,
I realized how good it felt to be part of this movement and of
The following year, I took over as the Detroit Affiliate
Advocacy Coordinator. I’ve been able to get to know our
Michigan political representatives and our affiliate members
through the proclamation process, office visits and affiliate
events. I’ve learned a lot through training, and trial and error.
Since 2007, I’ve gone to four more Advocacy Days, and
can’t imagine not being part of that emotional, powerful and
My husband and I were high school sweethearts and married
for 29 years. My family’s lives will forever be affected by his
loss. Being a volunteer for the Pancreatic Cancer Action
Network has given me a purpose. You don’t realize your
power until you get involved and open your eyes to see all of
the amazing ways you can continue the fight. I help to put a
face to pancreatic cancer and nothing is more powerful.
A PROMISE KEPT THROUGH VOLUNTEERING
Kandi Wood (second from right) with
children Joshua, Amber and Shannon
Wood at PurpleStride Chicago.
There is power in
numbers. Our local
group of advocates
met with one of
our members of
always very pleasant,
but would not agree
to cosponsor the
Research & Education Act
Each time, I would return home and my
husband would say, “He has no idea who he is saying no to.”
We just kept persisting, politely of course, for three years and
growing our group until eventually he signed on.
I became involved because of my dad, who was diagnosed
with pancreatic cancer in 1999 and was gone by October. I
needed to do something more than just throwing my hands
up in frustration. My parents always drilled into us growing
up that we had a civic responsibility. A lot of people feel like
they don’t have a voice; the first few years, I wasn’t sure how
much of an impact I was making. I just brought myself to
the cause and was always very honest and passionate about
the organization and what we were fighting for. The turning
point came when another volunteer told me I inspired them.
I realized I wasn’t meant to do all of the work alone, but to
bring more people to the fight.
Since then, I feel like we’ve doubled in size almost every year.
When they say grassroots, that’s really what this movement
is. All of us are busy so when we volunteer our time, it says
something. I feel like we really are a big family with a common
drive. I’m very proud and honored to be part of this group.
Central Florida Affiliate
THEY DIDN’T KNOW WHO THEY WERE SAYING NO TO
Coordinator Karen Sharkey (left) with
Christina Bolling, Affiliate Coordinator at
PurpleStride Orlando (now PurpleStride