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Updated Survivor Story: Claire Zampine Muollo

My name is Claire Zampine Muollo; I am a Quincy, MA resident.  I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in July 2009.  On July 29, 2009 I underwent an 11-hour operation called the Whipple Procedure.  I continue to receive chemotherapy going into my fourth year at a cancer institute in Boston.  The pancreatic cancer metastasized to my lungs in October 2010.  

Pancreatic cancer has had its effects on me and my two sons, Robert, age 29 and David, age 21.  When I became ill, I weighed 135 pounds and decreased to my current 97 pounds.  After the operation, and when I could get around better, I continued with chemotherapy as well as alternative therapies such as massage and acupuncture and I attended a healing class.  I am positive that my faith, sense of humor, perseverance and the above treatments have all contributed to my longevity.  I thank God for every morning and day, and I spend as much time doing the important things.  I know my life journey has its obstacles, but we can overcome them by having a positive attitude and the support of family and friends.  Some days are tough, teary, and weary.  I still keep busy as best I can, as I now have neuropathy in both hands and feet.

During my fight against pancreatic cancer, I realized the passion the pancreatic research doctors at my cancer institute have to better detect the disease in its early stages, to allow those inflicted with this disease to have a better quality of life, and ultimately, to find a cure.  Sitting around my dining room table, I told my two sons that I'd like to do something for this cancer.  They urged me not to just talk about it, but to do it!  So, in October, 2010 I made this my crusade and organized in my area, the first pancreatic cancer awareness walk, PROMISES FOR PURPLE PANCREATIC CANCER AWARENESS WALK.  I formed a committee of two other Marine moms, my sons, my neighbor, my niece and sisters.  To promote my cause, I mailed informational letters and personally visited local businesses.  I have been interviewed at a local TV station twice and featured in local newspapers.  The response was overwhelming.  Naturally, everything was purple!  I continued my marketing efforts by contacting the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and received small purple ribbons to distribute to our participants and informative brochures on the disease.  Many items were donated to contribute to my walk.  
Walk day is an emotional day for Bob, David, extended family and me.  Everyone arrives at the walk wearing purple.  With all my visits for chemotherapy and massage at the cancer institute, they know me as the "Purple Lady" and have since persuaded the gift shops at two locations to highlight areas of their shops each November with purple items for pancreatic cancer.  I sure would like to see local and national sports players wear purple each November!  Wouldn't you?  I am working on it!  I thank my two sons, other family members, friends, co-workers, volunteers, and vendors for their love, prayers and support during my exhausted fight against pancreatic cancer. 

Through my organization, Promises for Purple Pancreatic Cancer Awareness, my committee and I have raised over $70,000.  I am doing this for past, present and future patients.  I feel lucky to be alive.  I was hospitalized this past summer twice with pneumonia and ecoli poisoning in my blood stream caused from abscesses in my liver.  The nurses and doctors called me “complicated.”  I guess I am.  My best to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and all pancreatic cancer patients.  Keep the purple flowing!

On behalf of myself and many other pancreatic cancer patients currently, past and unfortunately in the future, thank you for your support!

Claire Zampine Muollo

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