For most volunteers working with the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, a personal connection to the disease prompted them to get involved – there’s a special someone for whom they Wage Hope. In my case, my “someone” is my father, a seven-year pancreatic cancer survivor. For years, my family and I have been volunteering with PanCAN to create a future with more survivors who can be there for all the special moments in the lives of their loved ones.
Four years ago, I attended my first National Pancreatic Cancer Advocacy Day and was inspired by all the passion. I wrote this essay after that event and wanted to share it again:
Hello! I am an eighth-grader who has been involved with the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network for almost three years. My world was forever shaken in 2010 when my hero, my dad, Dennis, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I was only 10 years old. As my family struggled to understand, my dad found the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and began to get information about the disease.
In August 2011, we attended PurpleStride Pittsburgh. I went as part of our family team, “Faith Heals,” and my dad’s work team, “HM Pacesetters,” also participated. The concept of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network was new to me, but I remember noticing how wonderful the event was. Although he is cancer-free today, I saw my dad’s suffering through this disease, so it meant so much to see everyone’s dedication.
Then I attended Pancreatic Cancer Advocacy Day with my dad, mom and my older brother. I loved everything about it! I appreciated getting to share my story with others, including our Pennsylvania senators and representative, and I was especially grateful to hear the inspiring stories of survivors. Advocacy Day felt rewarding because we were doing something concrete and momentous.
I give my time to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network because I love being able to meet people and be there for them – it’s the best feeling in the world! My personal experience with pancreatic cancer has made me a better person, as helping others always does. I encourage other kids to get involved, too. It will give you a feeling like no other.
Until the world is free of pancreatic cancer, I’ll keep doing my part.
Now I’m heading into my senior year. I remember feeling grateful to have my father at my eighth grade graduation, and today, it means the world to be able to visit colleges with him. I appreciate each special moment with my dad and continue to hope for a world where more families can have those moments with their loved ones.
It was amazing to witness the same passion at Advocacy Day 2017 that I saw four summers ago. As the years go by and the survival rate increases, the volunteers working with PanCAN remain strong and dedicated in their fight.
We are changing lives and making a difference.
Nikki Cronin, 17
Anyone can volunteer. Get involved in your own way today!