In November 2016, I became a 20-year pancreatic cancer survivor.
But I can still remember my diagnosis as if it were yesterday. After experiencing some of the traditional symptoms associated with pancreatic cancer, I went through six months of ultrasounds, CT scans, MRIs, an endoscopy, a colonoscopy and any other “oscopy” you can think of. After all of the testing, it was confirmed that I had a tumor the size of a golf ball on my pancreas.
I was young – the mother to a 2-year-old. And I was in utter shock.
Luckily, surgery was an option, but there were so many emotions running through me at the time. I felt fortunate to have a tumor that could be removed, but I also felt guilty because I knew that was not the case for everyone fighting this disease.
No one outside of my family and close friends knew I had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer until a few years ago, because I did not want cancer to define me.
However, all of that changed when Steve Jobs passed away of pancreatic cancer, and the media covered his battle. His story showed me how important it was for me to speak out and let others know that there is so much hope.
We must break through the fear and the silence that the stigma of cancer can carry.
The collective strength of survivors and their loved ones can give courage to those who are afraid of the statistics.
To the pancreatic cancer community, I urge you to tell your story, fundraise and educate the public so our movement can grow. We must wear purple, volunteer and never stop fighting!
To my fellow survivors, I say keep up the fight, stay courageous and never give up.
To the many people who have passed from this disease, you will never be forgotten, and we will continue to Wage Hope in your honor.
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