Cousins For A Cure
"GRITiTUDE = Girls Raised in the South with Attitude!"
“Our cousin has pancreatic cancer. Age 56. Excellent health. None of the known risk factors. But she has advanced inoperable pancreatic cancer.” This devastating statement was received on July 11, 2012. Diane told her doctors that she would do whatever they told her to do to win her battle. She underwent intensive chemo and radiation, and had the Whipple surgery to remove the tumor, along with 60% of her pancreas and 40% of her stomach.
In March, 2013, she was pronounced “cancer free”—and went on a 13 mile hike in Yosemite National Park! Her six month scan in October, 2013 revealed two small spots on her liver, but she is not about to give in. She is back on chemo, but is determined to maintain her usual schedule of exercise, work, and fun. She is willing to share her story, publically, with the hope that it might encourage others, and might, also, motivate all of us to be generous in our support of cancer research. Diane stresses these key elements in her fight against pancreatic cancer: research, attitude, and family, friends, and faith.
According to a CBS report recently, ”Cancer is on the decline in this country”. Thankfully that is true – but only for those cancers that receive the most publicity and “awareness”. Pancreatic cancer is now the 4th leading cause of cancer deaths, and is expected to be 2nd by 2015. The 5-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer is only 6% and has not changed in 40 years! (www.fundacure.com) There is a big disparity in cancer funding. Our challenge is to promote awareness in every possible way, because awareness leads to funding, which leads to research, which can lead to a cure.
Diane is a direct illustration of research, and would not be here without it. She was fortunate to be near MassGeneral Hospital in Boston, which is one of the leading cancer treatment centers in the country. Her doctor, Dr. David Ryan is the head of Hematology/Oncology, and had access to the very latest medicines. She underwent 6 months of intensive chemo, then 2 more months of radiation and chemo. She had acupuncture weekly, and continues to, even now. After a month’s rest, she had Whipple surgery, a massive surgery to remove 40% of her stomach and 60% of her pancreas, all the duodenum; then pull up the small intestine and re-work it all. This was all made possible by research. Research is only possible through adequate funding.
Pancreatic cancer currently claims over 33,000 American lives each year and only has a 6% five year survival rate. These figures, coupled with the fact that the average life expectancy of a patient diagnosed with pancreatic cancer is only 6 months, makes this disease the single deadliest cancer in America. Pancreatic cancer is currently 48 times more deadly than AIDS and over 17 times deadlier than breast cancer based on life expectancy, and five year survival rates, which are now 94% for AIDS and 89% for breast cancer. 73% of patients diagnosed with this disease will die within a year of diagnosis. Though pancreatic cancer kills twice as many Americans than AIDS it receives 39 times less funding of research.” (Source: Pancreatic Cancer Research Federal Funding Fact Sheet).
By the time pancreatic cancer is diagnosed, it has usually spread to other organs. In the other major cancers, widespread use of screenings such as mammograms, chest X-rays, PSA tests, and colonoscopies, enable doctors to make early diagnosis. Sadly, there is no commonly used screening test for pancreatic cancer. Developing a test is a major goal of research.
In 2012, President Obama signed into law the “Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act”, which will support the coordination of research on cancers that have persistently low survival rates. Advancements in the diagnosis and treatment of so-called recalcitrant cancers, such as cancer of the pancreas, lung, liver, or ovaries, have lagged behind the overall gains made in fighting the disease in recent years. The passage of this bill is a milestone in the history of pancreatic cancer. This is the first substantive legislation for this disease.
As vital as federal funding is, the work done by foundations and individuals is equally important. Donations may be made directly to the work of Diane’s doctor. ALL the money donated to him goes directly to research, with none deducted for other costs. Diane has devoted herself to raising funds for his work. PLEASE GIVE.
Second: ATTITUDE. From the first diagnosis, Diane’s attitude has been “If it can be beat, I will beat it”! The latest medicines cannot work without a will to fight, and the determination to win. Many days Diane was taking long walks or working out at the gym, when it would have been so much easier to “just sit”. She is constantly inspired by the words of Charles Swindoll, in “Attitude”.
Third: FAMILY, FRIENDS, AND FAITH. These three have formed the foundation for her battle. As she says, “I couldn’t have done it without all three!” Her family is her strength. She stresses the importance of allowing friends to help, in whatever way they are able to; a smile and a hug can work wonders. She says she “keeps an open line to God”. Diane doesn’t know the future, but she faces it with hope and confidence. The words “give up” are not in her vocabulary.
Diane doesn’t know the future, but she faces it with hope and confidence. The words “give up” are not in her vocabulary.
DONATE NOW ONLINE
Click this special link to donate directly to Mass General.
Cousins for a Cure is not a non-profit organization or business entity. We are simply family, cousins, doing what we can to raise awareness of pancreatic cancer to help one of our own. Diane and the cousins are deeply grateful for all your support!
SPECIAL 2013 EVENT IN FRANKLIN, NC
Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Day in Macon County is Friday,
November 15th beginning at
5:00 p.m. at theDowntown Gazebo.
• Download Information (PDF)
We also offer a special thank you to Jean Gregory Evans for her creation and design of the GRITiTUDE logo. See more of her work at www.RedBubble.com.
Checks payable to: "MGH Cancer Center" earmark on "for" line of check "pancreatic cancer" and mail to:
MGH Cancer Center Development Office
c/o Andy Kitaff
165 Cambridge Street, Suite 600
Boston, MA 02114
Below are some helpful links to assist you in getting the facts about pancreatic cancer.
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