Editor’s note: Our weeklong series of inspiring advocacy stories continues today with one contributed by Kim Levesque – a devoted advocate, fundraiser and volunteer Affiliate Chair for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN) Connecticut Affiliate.
My dad was the first person I loved. Saying goodbye to him was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.
He was my hero. He did everything for me. One of my favorite memories is when he took me to Disney World. We rode the teacups together about 30 times, just because I wanted to.
He’s one of the main reasons I give so much to my own kids. I want them to have the love I had growing up.
They were so little when my dad died from pancreatic cancer, but still they haven’t forgotten him. They remind me he is always showing signs that he’s with us.
I’ll never forget my first PurpleStride Connecticut. It was 2015 and I had just learned about PanCAN. My dad had passed away a few weeks before. It was there that I met PanCAN staff members for the Connecticut Affiliate.
They were so welcoming and supportive. We talked about how passionate I was about fundraising, and they helped me see that PanCAN was the outlet I needed.
At first, I got involved because I was so angry about my dad’s death.
Now I’m using my anger and passion to help others. I’m part of something bigger than me. My role as Affiliate Chair has made me feel even more connected to the pancreatic cancer community.
Initially I was hesitant to take on the role of Affiliate Chair, but in my two years in the role, I do feel so much more connected to the pancreatic cancer community.
In 2018, I attended my first PanCAN Advocacy Day. I’ll always remember that meeting with my U.S. representative in their office on Capitol Hill.
Sharing my story and my ask (to increase federal funding for pancreatic cancer) made me feel powerful. It made me realize that even though my dad and so many others lost their battle to pancreatic cancer, it was not for nothing.
The last thing I said before I left my representative’s office still sticks in my mind today:
“My dad is not a number. He is not a statistic. He is the reason I’m here. He and so many others deserved better, and that is all we are asking for.”
I’m grateful to be able to participate in PanCAN’s Advocacy Week this week – it is a continuation of the work that we do on Capitol Hill each year, and I know it makes a difference.
Father’s Day is coming up this weekend. It is always a hard day for me. But I keep going, we all keep going, to help the survivors. Here is my message to those survivors:
You are our inspiration and the reason we push so hard. You are what drives us. You remind us that what we are doing matters. It is because of you that PanCAN won’t stop.