Earlier this year, pancreatic cancer surpassed breast cancer to become the third leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States.

While the five-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer increased slightly to 8 percent, it is still the lowest survival rate of any major cancer.

Our challenge is clear: We must double survival.

Our hearts are in it because we are changing the future of pancreatic cancer. But we can’t do it without you.This month we are featuring stories from survivors, caretakers and families telling us why their hearts are in it and why they Wage Hope. Here’s Vic Luna’s story about his wife, Roberta.

A love letter to my wife, Roberta Luna – a pancreatic cancer survivor

Vic Luna and his bride of 41 years, Roberta.

Vic Luna and his bride of 41 years, Roberta.

“Precious and few are the moments we two can share.”

Wow, not in a lifetime would I have ever expected these words to have so much meaning 41 years later!

That was our wedding song, Roberta. Of course we didn’t realize then that the journey of our lives together would take so many twists and turns, with unanswered questions and unexpected events.

Of the many good moments, God bestowed two miracles upon us. The doctors had given us no chance of you being able to have children, yet with His grace, you defied the odds, and we have two boys. How wonderful was that?

You are my inspiration – only one of many reasons why I love you immensely!

With the good, there has been not-so-good.

In 1998, your dad became ill; there were so many unanswered questions after he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I saw your perseverance and aggressiveness as you worked to find answers to make him well. Your tireless efforts led you to learn that your grandmother had also passed away from pancreatic cancer. This only amplified your willpower to find a cure for your dad and to help others.

Vic and Roberta Luna’s wedding day in 1974.

Vic and Roberta Luna’s wedding day in 1974.

I love you immeasurably for all that you are doing today in the fight against this disease!

Soon after your dad passed away, more confusion and more questions without answers ensued. But you became acquainted with Pamela Acosta Marquardt, before she founded the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. She gave you courage; she shared your common interest in pushing relentlessly for answers. Shortly thereafter, your uncle – your dad’s brother – was told he, too, had pancreatic cancer.

You weren’t feeling well at the time, either, and we were all blindsided to learn that you were also harboring this hideous disease.

Your uncle soon received his wings, and what frustration we felt to not have found the answers that could have helped him…the answers that could help you. Meanwhile, you reconnected with Pam, and by the grace of God and endless prayers, we learned that she had founded the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. What a blessing to us. What a blessing to others in the same situation.

This was followed by more devastating news – your mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The fourth family member. But you have gone on to volunteer and continue to fight – unselfishly for her until her passing – and for yourself, while continuing to help others and asking nothing in return.

Still in love, after 41 years and many ups and downs.

Still in love, after 41 years and many ups and downs.

You bring sunshine when I look at you. Roberta, I love you more and more every day!

Your own 14-year battle has not been easy. The struggles, disappointments and setbacks, yet your fortitude to continue your fight is admirable and I will always support you in your needs. You have taught me to be strong, to share and not to be selfish. Through you I have learned that yesterday is behind us and never regained, only the opportunities that it allowed us to obtain. And tomorrows are never promised, but tomorrow does offer hope. Today is now and all that we have. When I reach for you every morning and I feel your warmth, I thank God that he has blessed me by giving us a new day together and a new beginning that I wish would last a lifetime.

Roberta, precious and few are the moments we two can share, and if I cannot hold you in my arms, it just wouldn’t be fair.

Each moment with you is like a dream that somehow came true.

Yo te amo mucho mas, always and forever!

Written by: Vic Luna
PurpleStride Chair, Orange County (Calif.) Affiliate

There’s nothing quite like talking to someone who has been through a similar situation. Learn more about our Survivor and Caregiver Network, where you can share information, ask questions and gain support and inspiration.