Our guest columnist this month is Joyce Worley, a volunteer with the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. Joyce lost her son, Josh, to pancreatic cancer in 2011, and honors his memory by serving as a South Carolina Community Representative, planning local awareness events and growing the local volunteer community.
Joyce participated for the past two years in the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network’s PurpleLight event, honoring pancreatic cancer survivors and remembering those who have been lost. This year, she takes on a leadership role in organizing the PurpleLight event in South Carolina, for which we are very appreciative.
With warm regards,
Julie Fleshman, JD, MBA
President and CEO
Pancreatic Cancer Action Network
Dear Pancreatic Cancer Action Network supporters,
Josh Worley; his sister, Jess Moody; and mom, Joyce Worley, in December 2010
This year marks my third PurpleLight and the first I have coordinated as South Carolina Community Representative for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. It has been a labor of love.
PurpleLight is important to me because it unites our community as we join together to honor those fighting pancreatic cancer today and lovingly remember those lost to it. My family remembers my son, Josh. When his name is read, we hold our glow-sticks high so we can be sure he sees them.
Josh’s PurpleLight story began June 2009 with a diagnosis of Stage IV pancreatic cancer. No one saw that coming. Josh was 33 ½ years old, a healthy UPS driver raising a family. His life was full of love, laughter and promise.
Josh fought the good fight for 19 months with all he had and with all his doctors had to offer him. He was supported by his family, many friends and fellow UPS drivers—his “brothers in brown.” Still, it wasn’t enough. In January 2011, Josh passed away, 12 days after his 35th birthday.
Joyce Worley with her daughter and grandchildren, wearing their PurpleLight 2012 t-shirts honoring Josh.
Every purple light tells a story. I have heard many touching stories. Every story is different and every story is similar. They are the best kind of stories – not written on paper but on the heart. That way you never forget them.
The beginnings may be different – men, women, young, old – but the PurpleLight part of the story always starts with a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. The ensuing chapters tell about the love, courage and determination seen on this journey. Some stories are still being written. Some PurpleLight stories are completed but that is not where they stop. Epilogues are still being written—day by day, year by year—by family and friends who remember a loved one and are committed to fighting on.
Josh’s family continues work on his epilogue; PurpleLight is part of it because Josh is a part of each PurpleLight. His name is read; his family and friends are gathered; his memory is honored.
Each PurpleLight will always be special to me. It’s a tangible way to remember the wonderful man Josh was and it symbolizes that his spirit shines on—his fight continues to be fought. Every PurpleLight participant comes for someone special. We all feel comforted when we hear that special name read and lift up our purple lights to the sky. When I do, I am saying “I love you, Josh.”
Volunteer, Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, South Carolina Affiliate