Today is the last day of National Pancreatic Awareness Month, but I hope it we’ll work on raising awareness all year round. As I look back at November, I want to thank all of the advocates – the family members, patients, and survivors – for sharing their stories.
I also want to share mine.
I lost one of my best friends and one of the finest people I ever knew to pancreatic cancer. She died almost eight years ago.
Mary and I were college classmates. She grew up in Pottstown, Pennsylvania and was the second of five children. Her family was very close; they were people of faith and of energy. They loved each other and the community loved them.
After college, Mary’s career developed from news-writing for the evening news in Philadelphia to working in the helping fields, culminating in her position as head of the Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children in New York. The Commission is part of the International Rescue Committee.
In this role, Mary traveled frequently to some of the most difficult places on earth to advocate and fight for women and children refugees. Mary was truly one of the nicest people I have ever known, but she was also tough as nails when it came to fighting for others.
I think of Mary often and I miss her a lot. She continues to be a great inspiration to me.
According to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, pancreatic cancer is the 4th leading cause of cancer death in the United States. In 2011, an estimated 44,030 people were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and approximately 37,660 passed away from the disease.
Please take a moment to learn more about pancreatic cancer, get in touch with the Delaware Chapter of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, or sign up to volunteer.