My mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in January of 2001. Doctors found it after they performed exploratory surgery because of excruciating lower back pain she was experiencing. The cancer was too widespread to operate.
My father called me with choked-back tears and said that Mom had cancer. My oldest brother researched pancreatic cancer on the web and called me the following week. "It doesn’t look good," he said. I will NEVER forget when he said that.
In July of that year, I lost my mother and my closest confidante. I talked to her nearly every day of my life: now suddenly, there was a void. The saddest thing to me, however, was that her granddaughter would never know this wonderful woman who could not wait to spoil her after raising three sons.
Years later, as I started a career in real estate, I looked for charities to support. I found the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and was impressed with all the programs and resources they offered — I wished I had found them when my mother was going through her illness. I made a donation to them with each transaction that I closed in honor of my mother. I also started wearing the purple wristband and telling my clients why I chose to support it as my way to help raise awareness.
As my new career progressed, I realized I had a need to give even more back to the community. I looked for months at several charities, but none seemed to be a fit. Then, one day in May of 2007, I received an email inviting me to a Meet and Greet for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. At the meeting, I saw a new colleague I had just met 6 months earlier. She had been battling pancreatic cancer for about one and a half years at that point and was a new example to me — the pancreatic cancer survivor. I was deeply moved by her story and those of the others there.
In that meeting, I realized that I wanted to be a part of this organization. We formed the Austin Affiliate that day. Because of the strength of the people in the room, and the spirit of my mother, I volunteered to serve as the Affiliate Coordinator.
I am so very fortunate to support the organization’s mission and goals with very strong and passionate people. It makes volunteering an action of fulfillment and friendship by knowing that you are working with others that you respect and genuinely care about. In a way, we have formed our own little family because of our deep connections.
I chose to become involved with the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network because I believed in its programs and the mission. I wanted to make a difference with my time, my efforts and my voice — not just by making donations. I also got involved because my niece and nephew will never know their precious grandmother.
No one should ever have to lose their mother in such a quick and painful way. If my actions can save or prolong the life of even one person, then I can be happy. I will continue to aid in the fight for as long as I am able because there are simply not enough voices trying to raise the cure.