Advocate, Volunteer and Survivor Story: Ralph Cheney
A local doctor told me I had an "undiagnosed obstruction" in the tail of my pancreas after two bouts of pancreatitis in the fall of 2004. Local doctors wanted to wait and re scan me in six months. My wife Mariann said, "No way." We went to a major center in New York with expertise in pancreas cancer. There a gastroenterologist known for his skill in performing Endoscopic Ultrasounds told us that he felt that it was a tumor and it could be malignant. He could not reach the tumor- but he had a hunch by looking at it that it was cancer. I had a distal pancreatectomy and spleenectomy and was diagnosed with ductal adneocarcinoma. I completed 6 months of treatment in 2005. Right after my surgery, I connected with the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network in early February 2005 and I was given a wonderful gift in a survivor to speak to and lots of informational packets. This man provided me his experience and hope through my journey. My first event with the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network was the Evening with the Stars in 2005 and it began my wife's and my commitment to helping the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network in any way we could. I love my volunteer work in the survivor network. Taking calls from folks like myself who are filled with questions and who I can share my experience with has provided me a way to be useful. This past March Mariann and I participated in Advocacy Day in Washington as part of our continued commitment to help obtain the momentum needed for making pancreatic cancer research at the forefront of our leaders minds. Every day is a gift. After my diagnosis I became the youth director for my bass fishing club teaching youngsters in Sullivan County New York. I also volunteer with local cancer support groups and local hospitals sharing my story whenever I can. Today, an almost five year survivor, without evidence of Pancreas Cancer, I am grateful, filled with hope and gratitude for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network family and for the research commitment we must continue to be laser focused on.
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