I was diagnosed with stage II pancreatic cancer in October, 2010. I went through several chemotherapy and radiation treatments for four months at a specialized cancer center in Tampa with the hopes that the tumor would shrink so the surgeon could operate. With the cancer center’s help, and many prayers, treatment was a success, and I underwent the Whipple procedure in February, 2011, followed by four more months of chemotherapy. I fought hard, and maintained a positive outlook so I could get my life back. It was a long road, but I had so much to live for.
During my ordeal, my mother was also diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and also had the Whipple procedure, but she never really recovered, and eventually passed away in October, 2011. She also had many other health issues and was 82, but she had the will to live. The last thing she said to me was, "Don't give up, you’re not finished yet." I was determined to gain my life and health back. I started eating healthy, going to the gym two times a week, and stopped putting off things that I really wanted to do. For the first time in my life, I lived like I was dying; I did not want to waste any time, and have taken several trips that I had put off for years. To say the least, this is the best time of my life, and I enjoy every minute of it; life is a gift.
I had never participated in a 5k before, so I signed up for the PurpleStride 5k in St. Petersburg, Florida, to benefit pancreatic cancer research. The race was on November 2, 2013. I was so determined to do this, not just for myself, but I wanted to show people that I could do it. I wore a "survivor" T-shirt, but mostly I did this in the memory of my mother, Dorothy Blaha. The attached picture is at the race last weekend, November 2, 2013. My son, Kyle, is on the left and on the right is my granddaughter, Kylie.