World Pancreatic Cancer Day

Today is World Pancreatic Cancer Day and across the globe we’re uniting to improve patient outcomes for this deadly disease. Pancreatic cancer is the only major cancer without significant improvement in survival rates of the past decades. Our patients, our friends and our families deserve better.

Thankfully, I have plenty of purple to wear. I started the day rocking my Minnesota Vikings shirt (Skol Vikings!) It is awesome when you can support your team and an amazing cause at the same time. I went to my 12:00 yoga in an nice purple Gaiam top and my favorite Gaiam yoga mat (also purple.)

I’m hopeful as the general public becomes mor aware of the disease that our collective voice for more research will get louder. We need more dollars out against the disease if we are to unravel it’s secrets i.e. early detection methods and a cure. PanCAN has been hard at work the last twenty years increasing awareness and research. I’m excited with that the next decade will bring us in terms of research. Nevertheless, our voices cannot be quieted until we have found a cure.

You can support PanCAN’s mission in honor of World Pancreatic Cancer day and in my friend Debbie’s honor by donating here.

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Difficult Day

It was a difficult day.  Sadly, today marks the year anniversary of Debbie’s passing.  I’ve written before about how grief alters how we experience time.  Truly, time is on a weird continuum when you’re dealing with grief and loss.  It feels like both a day ago and a decade ago since Debbie left us.  I remember waking up the morning after she had passed and thinking how cruel it was that the world kept going as if nothing had happened.  Meanwhile, for all of us that loved Debbie and held her dear, our world was completely devastated.  I sat in my car lamenting this fact when a beautiful cardinal flew next to my car window, stayed there for a bit and then quickly flew off.  It was an amazing moment.

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Grief is an interesting animal itself.  Its sneaks up on you and catches you unexpectedly.   Today brought back a flood of memories both good and bad.  I was at work when I first heard she was going into hospice.  My amazing friends and co-workers comforted and supported me.  Moreover, I was reminded of how much we all miss her.  Needless to say, it wasn’t an easy day.

As I ruminated over my day (typical Monday) and our dear friend Debbie, I quickly realized how lucky I am to be aggravated by inane emails or missed meetings.  At the end of the day, life is a gift that some times includes more than your average dose of aggravation.  The truth is without life’s lows or aggravations we wouldn’t fully appreciate life’s highs and truly happy moments.  So today, in the face of aggravation and insipidness, I chose to live like Debbie.  In fact, I even got in a nice run tonight.  She’d definitely be quite proud of me for continuing to run and not giving it up after the ankle injury.   Life may give us lemons, but that’s nothing some ice cubes, Grey Goose and sugar can’t solve.  #carpediem

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Debbie was diagnosed in 2015 with Stage IV pancreatic cancer after ending up in an ER with severe back pain.  The 5 year survival rate for this diagnosis is 1%, which is unacceptable.  Even in the midst of her battle against this disease, Debbie stood as a beacon of hope.  In fact, she served as the key note speaker at the 2016 Purple Stride Event in Boca Raton.  In her honor, please consider donating to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.  No family should have to endure the pain of losing their loved one to this insidious disease.  You can donate here: Pancreatic Action Network

Purple Haiku

Calmer Evening

It’s been a calmer evening in the household after all the noise and frustration of last night. I spoke with the Assistant Principal of the boys school and feel comfortable with our plan for Goalielocks as he recovers. Also spoke to one of the Mayor’s teachers after discovering the Mayor had spelled the teacher’s email address wrong all semester. No wonder he had 0 points for his article assignments! He’s busy fixing them tonight.

Today was also tough because it’s our dear Debbie’s birthday. It’s a tough milestone for many of us.  I still found myself getting choked up periodically throughout the day despite my hectic schedule. It’s been nearly a year since we lost her. Ironically, it feels like it was both seconds ago and decades ago. Time is on a weird continuum when you’re dealing with grief and loss.

We also lost a giant today with the death of Stephen Hawking. I could write for days about this brilliant mind, but that’s not his most impressive feature. Both Hawking and Debbie were given devastating, terminal diagnosis when they were far too young. While a lot of people would buckle under the diagnosis, neither of them did. Amazingly, they both choose to live to the fullest as they faced their own mortality.

When I write or say Live Like Debbie. I really mean it and I try to live it. What I mean by that is I’m trying to live my life differently by living to the fullest and treating people differently. (Not that I was some kind of asshole before or something.) Specially, my goal is to brighten people’s dY, to be helpful, to inspire and to leave people better off than when I met them. It doesn’t have to be something big, it could be a smile or a good morning while you’re waiting in line for coffee.

I miss my friend very much. It’s tough to lose a friend who is in the prime of their life. It’s tough to lose someone you love. Moreover, it’s tough to see people you love experience such a profound loss. It’s tough to explain and square how something like this happens to someone so young and vibrant. The thing is there’s really no explanation, which leads to one simple fact. Life is too short to get caught up in the small stuff, so my friends Live Like Debbie.

In honor of Debbie’s birthday, please consider donating to the Pancreatic Action Network in her honor. Pancreatic Action Network

Tonight’s song performed by the Offspring is “Gone Away.”  The lyrics of this song are absolutely on point.

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Demand Better

One of PanCan’s most powerful slogans is demand better.  Demand better for patients and for survival.  Pancreatic Cancer is now the 3rd leading cause of cancer related deaths in the U.S.  By 2020, pancreatic cancer is forecasted to be the 2nd leading cause of cancer related deaths surpassing breast cancer.  Meanwhile the 5 year survival rate for pancreatic cancer has increased from 7% to 8%.  While the increase is welcome, the survival rate for pancreatic cancer is still way too low.

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The diagnosis of pancreatic cancer to anyone’s friend or family member is horrifying.  What I respected so much about Debbie is that she lived her life fully not allowing the disease to define her.   I’m grateful to have had her in my life and for the example she set.  Additionally, she was the epitome of grace under pressure.  In the midst of her treatment, she was committed to making the future brighter for all pancreatic cancer patients.   Our commitment to the cure steadfast driven by her absence, which is felt profoundly by all of us.  I promised her that I would never give up the fight that I would always wage hope as her proxy.

Join us or donate to Team Deb Force Five here.

Love is Stronger

Love is Stronger

Love is stronger than cancer undoubtedly.   It doesn’t always feel like that.  Sometimes the pain that cancer has caused brings us to our knees, but that’s why awareness and advocacy are hugely important.  Like most people, I wish I knew nothing about this insidious disease.  Why?  The only way you really learn about its devastating impact is when a friend or family member is diagnosed.   Otherwise, the disease is a complete mystery.  The battle, the fight for a cure for many of us is personal.

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Today begins Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month here in the states.  For us it will culminate at the Purple Stride event on November 19th.  I’m a huge supporter of Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and their goal to double survival by 2020.  Importantly, PANCAN is not only working towards a cure, they are a priceless resource to patients and families contending with the diagnosis.  My friend Debbie was a huge proponent of the organization and spoke at last years Purple Stride about how their services helped her and her family.

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For the last two year Debbie a fearless, courageous and incredibly strong women completed the Purple Stride 5K.   She was in the middle of chemo for stage iv pancreatic cancer and she completed a 5K.  Up until my first Purple Stride event, I didn’t think I could even run a mile let alone 3.1.   Her strength was so inspiring to me that I took up running.  I went on to complete 12 5Ks in 2016.  She made me better in so may ways.

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It breaks my heart to even think that she won’t be with us at this year’s Purple Stride.   Her absence makes our mission that much more important.  While Debbie is no longer her to champion the cause, we are and we will.  Until there’s a cure, until another family doesn’t have to suffer through this horrible disease, we will keep on fighting.  In her honor, I’ll be posting daily this month to help raise awareness and raise funds.  Finally, one thing I learned from Debbie, and there were so many, was living in gratitude.   Additionally, I’ll be including something that I’m thankful for in each of these posts.

You can help support the cause by joining or donating to our team here.

One Month

One month ago, a moment we hoped would never come came and took our breath away.

One month ago, the immensity of the moment made time standstill.

One month ago, our world stopped spinning and the pain was overwhelming, but your pain was no more.

One month ago, we were reeling in loss, while the world kept spinning and life went on.

To my dearest friend and hockey mom,

It has been one month since you left us, but it feels like it was both yesterday and an eternity ago.  That night replays in my mind daily and not a day goes by that I don’t think of you.  Our world stopped, but life around us continued. To this day, it seems cruel that life continues on despite our enormous loss.

As I left to the coffee the next morning, a cardinal was in my front tree and flew by my car. Driving that morning, I was struck by the notion that nothing and everything had changed all at once.  The cardinal was a gift, undoubtedly from you to let us know you were okay.   You’ve left a mark forever on my soul and the souls of those that knew you.  Your strength, your tenacity, your spirit, your beauty, and your joie de vivre continue to inspire me on the daily.  You will forever be a seminal person in my life responsible for teaching me more about myself and about life through your example than you could ever possibly imagine.

I am resolute in the promises I made you that day.  Luke and I will always watch over your family and I will never give up the fight to find a cure.   United by hockey and love of our kids, I’m blessed to have called you my friend and my family.  I can never thank you enough for all you did for us.  Love you to the moon and back.

Love,

A broken hearted hockey mom.

 

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