“Pops.” That’s what she called him.
Donna Glick of Palm Beach, Fla., lost her dad to pancreatic cancer 14 years ago.
“I was his girl,” Donna said. “I still cry when I talk about it today.”
Back then, her family didn’t know about PanCAN. And Donna had no idea how her future PanCAN family would be there for her years later when she got a cancer diagnosis, too – breast cancer.
Twelve years after her dad passed away, Donna found out about PanCAN from a friend who was fundraising for PurpleStride. She knew she had to participate.
When Donna went to her first PanCAN Broward Palm Beach Affiliate meeting, she broke down. “I cried my way through that meeting,” she said.
“All the survivors came up to me. They were so warm and welcoming.” Donna remembers that she just wanted to be around them.
“They had just come back from PanCAN’s Advocacy Day in D.C., and I was in awe. I thought, ‘Look at these people. They’re not just fundraising for research – they’re advocating!’
I don’t know what I thought I’d walk into, but it exceeded what I was expecting.”
She remembers thinking, “This is just one affiliate. Imagine all the others.”
Donna said she volunteers, “Because it’s needed. Because of my father. I can’t sit back and let someone else do the work.”
Several months after that first meeting, Donna was diagnosed with breast cancer. Besides the utter shock of the diagnosis, what surprised her most was the outpouring of love and support she received from her PanCAN family at the PanCAN Broward Palm Beach Affiliate.
“Everyone rallied around me, checking in on me after my surgery. It blew me away. I had just met these people.”
Later that year, at her first Susan G. Komen walk, Donna recalls seeing a sea of pink shirts, given to all the breast cancer survivors in attendance.
A few months after that, at her first PanCAN PurpleStride in early 2020, she noticed something in sharp contrast to all that pink.
A total of 20 pancreatic cancer survivors attended that event.
“It hit me then. I have to get more involved. Breast cancer is so well-funded – so many people survive. We have to get that kind of awareness and funding for pancreatic cancer.”
Donna misses her dad deeply – they were very close. “My sisters and I were athletic. Dad came to all our games. He coached my swim team. He was so proud of us.
He was a people person and everyone loved him. At parties, Bar Mitzvahs, he was the first one on the dance floor.”
She recalls special times with him, like when she was in college and he’d come visit her. “We’d act like tourists. At Lion Country Safari, we were the only adult parent/child duo!”
When asked what her dad would say about her volunteering, Donna said, “She’s doing what I always knew she would do. I expected nothing less from her.”