Why do I harangue my friends year after year?
We will never forget Liz’s sister and mom (Connie and Chris), who first turned my attention to pancreatic cancer; Heather and Etta, who became my team namesakes; and all those lost before and since (Jayne Bradley Chagnon, Margaret Brower, Tom Hildebrand, Jenny Sweeting, Rachel Barron, Juanita Villar Cadorna, Lee Harris, Dee Quesada, Donna Cohen and Lisa Knight). They were brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, aunts and uncles of team members – Rachel and Lisa already dear friends – and they became a family of sorts to me. Still, as I’m sitting here writing this, I am thinking about Walter, who has been battling pancreatic cancer for more than five years, and I want to dedicate this effort to him.
I have written ad nauseam about the inexorable rise of pancreatic cancer – new cases nearly doubling (up 98.6%) and deaths up more than 60% in the 22 years I have been at this – but while the numbers are up again this year from last, so too we have more survivors battling the disease and Walter is one of them. Walter was stage IV when he was diagnosed in March of 2015 and to be frank, he was only expected to live a few months, but he is still with us five and a half years later. Walter is extraordinary but his journey has been a difficult one and it continues to be. He was bike riding almost daily a year ago and he just longs to get back on his bike. I long for him to be able to do just that but his plans have been derailed for the time being. He just finished five rounds of radiation and he’ll have chemo again on Tuesday.
We are living through a surreal period with the COVID crisis, and I am not here to deflect attention away from it, but pancreatic cancer continues its steady climb and we have to continue to marshal our efforts and resources to battle it. Because of COVID, this year’s LACC will be a virtual event – you can walk or run at the pace and place of your choice, alone or with whomever you choose – but please join us please and support the cause. As for me, I will cover my ground on the Hermosa/Manhattan Beach greenbelt, with Connie, Chris, Jayne, Margaret, Tom, Jenny, Rachel, Juanita, Lee, Dee, Donna and Lisa front and center, and then I will spend time with Walter.
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