Updated Survivor Story: Bela Greenbaum
I’m a Pancreatic Cancer Survivor. Never Give Up and Never Give In – KNOW IT. FIGHT IT. END IT.
Thanksgiving, 1999, my mother is in her final stages of pancreatic cancer. At the same time, I am experiencing mild stomach discomfort. A CT scan reveals that I have a mass in the head of my pancreas. On January 7, 2000, an endoscopic ultrasound with a biopsy confirms that I am suffering from adenocarcinoma. Upon hearing this horrible news, this death pronouncement, all I say is “what’s next, what do we do?”
Things are moving fast. A Whipple surgery is scheduled for January 17, 2000, but I refused. I would not leave my mother in her final days. The doctor urges me to reconsider and informs me that I must have the surgery immediately. That evening the decision is made for me, my mom passes away. To date, I believe that my mom gave up her life a little sooner so that I can have a chance at my life.
I buried my mother on Sunday, January 16, 2000. I checked into the hospital the same afternoon, and told everyone who would listen that the Whipple surgery will be performed on Monday so that my mom can get up to heaven and spread her angel wings to watch over me and to protect me. I believe that I not only survived the very delicate and dangerous surgery, but I fully recovered, due to the help from above, due to my family, friends, and community praying for me, and due to my unwillingness to give up and die. I am a survivor, and I am too blessed (13 grandkids to date) to be stressed. Thanksgiving now has an extra meaning to me and to my family.
That was January 2000, and today I am a living proof that miracles do happen as I enjoy my 14th year of survival.
Since then, I have been involved in the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network by participating in the yearly PurpleStride Detroit and participating in the “Candle Light Vigil.” I have been fundraising by appealing to my family and friends for donations to this extremely important cause, by placing donation boxes at my sister’s bagel shop, and my brother’s art gallery. I hold garage sales, with part of the proceeds donated to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.
On November 11, 2012 I took part in a most amazing event, “SURVIVORS ON THE RUNWAY,” in Coral Spring, Florida which brought together survivors of all kinds of cancer, and brought awareness about cancer and about helping to find a cure.
This year, as in previous years, I will walk in the PurpleStride for me, and all other cancer survivors. I will walk for my mother, who passed away from pancreatic cancer and for my mother-in-law, who passed away from breast cancer. I will walk for all those who are in the clutches of cancer, any kind of cancer, and I will walk for all those who succumbed to the vicious enemy. Mostly, I will walk for the CURE of this devastating disease, the disease that is physically and mentally painful not only to the one who is actually suffering from it, but also to the family and friends of that person.
Bela Greenbaum, 14 Year Survivor
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