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Jenny Kessman

I still deal with the loss of my mom every day. She's a part of me and always will be. When I speak with people who have pancreatic cancer and their families, I encourage them to not waste time.

In May 2012 my mom, Dore, was diagnosed with acinar cell carcinoma, a rare form of pancreatic cancer. She was a nurse and very in touch with her body, so she went to the doctor after having some stomach pain. With a blood test, they were able to see that her pancreatic enzymes were high. After doing an MRI, they saw a tumor the size of a pinky nail on her pancreas. Even though it was right before the beginning of my finals week my junior year of college, I packed up my room and immediately went home. We had no idea what to expect.

Less than a week later my mom surgery (half of a whipple) and she was deemed cancer free. As a nurse, she knew that this disease was deadly and advocated to receive chemotherapy to kill off whatever cells were undetected. Four weeks from the surgery date, my family grouped together in Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and found out from her oncologist that during those 4 weeks, the cancer came back. Two golfball sized tumors and small mets were visible in the liver.

We were crushed. That moment when we found out was almost worse than the moment my mom (56 y/o) took her last breath at two and a half years later on November 30, 2014 at 1:11 PM.

We didn't know about PanCAN for patient services -- but we did participate in PurpleLight NYC 2015. I don't know how my mom found out about PanCAN. After my mom passed away, I needed a way to convert my grief into something positive where I could work year round. My sister knows how much I love event planning and fundraising so she sent me the inquiry about needing a new PurpleStride chair for the NYC affiliate. A few weeks later, I had the position. PurpleStride NYC 2018 will be the third event that I've helped plan for the organization. Over $1.2 million has been raised from those two years and I'm honored to be part of it.

I organize a "Cookie for a Cure" fundraiser each winter where my neighbors make their best desserts and people vote for their favorite one by putting in a donation for PanCAN. We've raised over $1,000 each year from it. Also, I host profit shares at my favorite store, Lilly Pulitzer, twice a year.

I still deal with the loss of my mom every day. She's a part of me and always will be. When I speak with people who have pancreatic cancer and their families, I encourage them to not waste time. Don't worry about work, it's just a job. Go on that vacation that you've always wanted to go on. Celebrate every holiday. Be funny, be goofy, take pictures of everything. Smile every day. Be part of the movement to find a cure for this disease. Use your voice and share your story. It will change someone’s life. One day we're going to get there.

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Samantha Myers

Samantha Myers lost her dad in 2012 on his 66th birthday. He was diagnosed in May of that year after inexplicably feeling sick to his stomach for weeks on end. She is determined to make a difference in the fight to raise funds and awareness of pancreatic cancer.

I am Samantha Myers and I stride for my dad Dick Myers who we lost in 2012 on his 66th birthday. He was diagnosed in May of that year after inexplicably feeling sick to his stomach for weeks on end. I got a call from him and he said "I think you better come visit your father for Mother's Day". We were completely unprepared and caught off guard. He had chemo and put up a fight, but it was a losing battle fraught with complications upon complications and more bad news with each Doctor visit.

I don't think he felt well for a single day of the next 3 months. When it became apparent that he would not make it to my wedding that September, we called an officiant, ordered flowers and food, flew down and got married in his living room. He could barely muster the strength to raise a glass of champagne (and he LOVED nothing more than to toast with a glass of bubbly). It was one of the saddest yet most special days of my life. He missed walking me down the aisle at my fabulous NYC wedding, he missed seeing me huge and pregnant and now he has missed 3 1/2 years with his granddaughter Dylan. I know they would have been causing all kinds of trouble together, laughing and playing jokes (at my expense no doubt). We shared a love of music, watching sports, playing tennis, the beach and celebrations...all of which I am already passing on to my daughter.

And one unintended consequence of his pancreatic cancer is that I am now determined to make a difference in the fight to raise funds and awareness through the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. With my daughter by my side. This is the 6th year for Team Myers and I will show her how we can remember him and come together to do great things.

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Khushbu Kheti

It was by pure chance that I went to the emergency room one day in May. I had packed my work bag thinking I would be in and out within two hours, but that wasn’t the case. Who knew what I thought was “gas pain” would change my life forever.

Editor’s Note: Khushbu lost her fight with pancreatic cancer, but her story endures.

10 hours and an ultrasound later I was given the news. They had found a mass on my pancreas and that I would need to be admitted for further testing. I ended up leaving the hospital three days later, after many IVS, nurses, and tests, but not with many answers or information. I was originally told that the masses were nothing to be worried about, but I had a feeling that this just wasn’t the case. My family felt the same way and thanks to my Uncle, Mickey, we immediately set up an appointment with a highly rated doctor at Memorial Sloan Kettering. We were fortunate enough to quickly get a liver biopsy followed by an appointment with two oncologists who told us the news. I was diagnosed with a rare cancer called Neuroendcorine Carcinoma of the pancreas which spread to the liver. We were told that we would have to move quickly in order to tackle this cancer and I began IV chemotherapy within the week.

After three rounds of chemo followed with a CT scan, I was told that there was minimal improvement, for me, I thought, hey improvement is improvement, minimal or not. We continued IV chemo for seven rounds before switching to an oral chemotherapy. During this time I began losing my hair and after talking to others who had been through this process, I made the brave decision to shave my head. I am fortunate enough to have a sister and hair stylist who made that difficult decision easier. I was still working during this time so the thought of going back to work bald was terrifying; however with the support of my family and friends, I decided to go for it. My co-workers were wonderful and created a safe and playful environment which enabled me to feel comfortable in my bald state. We even went wig shopping together (of course, I got a hot pink wig). Unfortunately, the fun was short lived and I began feeling the grueling side effects of the chemo. I decided to move back to New Jersey so that my parents could help me with my daily pain. My sister also moved back into my parent’s house as an extra pair of hands during this rough time.

Although I was home with my loved ones, it didn’t make the fight any easier. I spent weeks at a time in the hospital and became beat down by the disease. Many times I felt like I was going to die. My family and friends remained hopeful and continued to push me through that time. They are the reason I am alive today and fighting as hard as I am, even when my oncologist had given us the news that she believed hospice was the best way to proceed. Thank God for my stubborn family who refused to accept losing me to this cancer. They began researching again to find new doctors, studies, and anything else that we can try next and I couldn’t be more grateful to them for not giving up on me. I am currently awaiting results of a test that can possibly help reduce the tumor growth and I am going to remain hopeful and positive.

As I await my results, my family and I have decided to focus our time and energy to the Purple Stride walk. I am determined to use my recourses to help raise money for pancreatic research and help others who have either lost loved ones, survived this disease or are battling the disease with me. I am blown away on how in such a short period of time, we were able to put together such a great team and raise an incredible amount of money for such an important cause. The amount of support and encouragement for #TEAMKHUSHBU has proven to me once again that I am not alone in my battle and with the help of my family and friends; I will keep fighting and survive!"

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Fatima Amiruddin

Almost 12 years ago, I lost my father to pancreatic cancer. He was diagnosed in October and passed away in December of the same year.

Almost 12 years ago, I lost my father to pancreatic cancer. He was diagnosed in October and passed away in December of the same year. For those of you who do not know, the 5-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer is just 9%. By supporting the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, you are supporting efforts to double survival for this deadly disease by 2020.

I am so excited that my PurpleStride NYC Team, Team Amir, is well on its way to hitting our $3,000 fundraising goal. Please consider donating to my team and joining me on April 14th as we wage hope and demand better for everyone facing this disease!

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Susan Burk

I’m striding this year in memory of my dad, Coy Burk, who was taken by this cruel cancer in November 2013. Much of my father’s life was about service to others and helping those in need.

I’m striding this year in memory of my dad, Coy Burk, who was taken by this cruel cancer in November 2013. Much of my father’s life was about service to others and helping those in need. Including when he bravely participated in a clinical trial to advance research in helping others afflicted with this terrible disease. In that vein, this year again, I will be serving as the "Teams Ambassador" for the event. I am thankful for PurpleStride and this opportunity to get involved, make a difference and to continue to honor my dad in the spirit of service to others.

I will also be striding for a friend, Debbie Leitner. She was a brave and courageous FIGHTER but sadly passed on January 25, 2018. I invite her friends and family to join in striding in her memory and for her boys - to see just how much she is loved.

We strive to change the fact that pancreatic cancer sadly has only a 9% 5-year survival rate, the 3rd leading cause of cancer death and is projected to move to the 2nd leading cause by 2020, if not before.

It is the goal of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network to double the survival rate by 2020 and STOP this cancer in its tracks.

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Amanda Skotarczak

The doctors called to tell Kim she had cancer on February 4, 2016. She refused to let it define her though and faced it head-on with the most positive attitude that anyone could.

Kim Frasier (4/14/1965 1/28/2017)

Doctors found a mass on Kim’s pancreas in November 2015, but she wasn’t diagnosed with pancreatic cancer until February 2016… World Cancer Day to be exact. The doctors called to tell her she had cancer on February 4, 2016. She refused to let it define her though and faced it head-on with the most positive attitude that anyone could. She endured months of chemo and radiation, and courageously underwent NanoKnife surgery in November 2016. A week before she passed, she was told she was cancer free. Her road to recovery had many ups and downs, and in the end she developed an infection she couldn’t fight. Her battle ended in the wee hours of January 28, 2017 at the age of 51.

Kim will forever be remembered for her witty sense of humor that could make anyone laugh; her ability to write a story that made you feel as if you were a part of it; her love of Christmas; all things pink; and the beach (that was evidenced by her incredible tan); her recurring tales of her beloved “heathens” (her dogs); her obsession with buying a Shasta (which she did, but sadly was not able to enjoy); her smile and personality that was so bright she made the world a better place; and ultimately, her fight for life that was an inspiration to all who knew her.

I encourage you to read her blog whenever you need a good laugh! Click here.

Dale Andersen (8/19/1948 - 11/4/2013)
Tonye Grega (6/11/1960 - 9/2/2013)

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Pamela Sachs

After being impacted by pancreatic cancer, I have vowed to wage hope and raise awareness. This type of cancer is frequently under-recognized, under-represented, and therefore under-supported. Moments after diagnosis, I remember stupidly thinking, “this cancer can’t be that bad- I’ve never even heard of it!” Boy, was I wrong.

Peter Sachs continues on in his fight each and every day. He remains- as ever- unsinkable. In his spare time, he still enjoys cracking Dad jokes mercilessly and inspiring never-ending eye rolls.

But seriously...

For 2017's intro page I wrote that my father is one of the strongest men I knew, mentally and physically. I still wholeheartedly believe this today. While the fight continues, we are thrilled to say it has been ONE YEAR+ since his diagnosis in January 2017. Unfortunately, this is a milestone that many people with the same diagnosis do not get to celebrate. Therefore, we are thankful for every day we have, and have yet to receive with this amazing & inspiring man.

After being impacted by pancreatic cancer, I have vowed to wage hope and raise awareness. This type of cancer is frequently under-recognized, under-represented, and therefore under-supported. Moments after diagnosis, I remember stupidly thinking, “this cancer can’t be that bad- I’ve never even heard of it!” Boy, was I wrong. Not only is pancreatic cancer a silent and aggressive form of cancer. It is one of the most lethal, carrying only a 9% survival rate. 9% IS ABSOLUTELY UNACCEPTABLE. I will do everything in my power to raise funds and awareness to help change this statistic. I wage this war not only for my father’s sake, but for anyone who ever has to hear the words “I’m sorry, but you have pancreatic cancer.” It is my personal goal to participate in Purplestrides in new locations every calendar year until I’ve crossed them all off. After that, well, I’ll do it all over again! I am the daughter of a warrior, and now a purple warrior for life.

Team #petersachsstrong was founded for Purplestride-Pittsburgh in 2017. I'm excited to resurrect it for Purplestride-NYC this coming April. Last year, people asked me why on earth I hashtagged (#) my team name- am I that much of a millennial that I speak in hashtags?! For those of you who are wondering the same, here's a little blurb about the origin.

#petersachs started as a joke in 2014 when my stubborn father refused to create a facebook page just so I could tag him in a picture of our family cat sitting on his lap.This picture- seemingly, unimportant to anyone who doesn't know him personally- was a HUGE deal! Through my entire life, this was the only time I'd EVER seen an animal in his lap! EVERYONE needed to see this!!!! So, I decided tagging with a hashtag was just as good as tagging through facebook. And thus, he ended up with his own hashtag. I've used that method to tag him in pictures and statuses ever since. He and I still chuckle about the ridiculousity of him having his own hashtag, but years later I'm thankful that our battle of wills led me to create it. It makes me smile that I am able to instantly rediscover some of my best memories with one of my favorite men. It makes me smile a little less that I’m forever explaining to my mother what a hashtag is and how it works…

Last year our fundraising goal was $2,017. That number reflected the year that Peter Sachs was diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer. I couldn't be more proud to say that we BLEW THAT AWAY! Thanks to the amazing people who supported us; we ended up surpassing our goal and raising $2,739!!!! Even better- these funds were donated to Cancer Treatment Centers of America. An institution that we ourselves have visited with my father during his treatment. This year we've upped the ante by a couple bucks. This year we hope to raise $2,022: This number represents the year my father will beat the 5-year survival rate of this unforgiving disease. 2022 is the year my father will stare cancer in the eyes and say “No- not yesterday, not today, not tomorrow, not ever.” Until then, we fight.

#petersachsstrong

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Tommy Barquinero

While my mom and I struggled at first to accept the heartbreaking reality of my dad's passing, we are now focused on doing what we can to eradicate pancreatic cancer and to prevent other loved ones from suffering from the disease. It is our way of honoring his memory.

I'm Tommy Barquinero and I stride in honor of my dad, Tom Barquinero, who passed away in June 2016 after a nearly three-year battle with pancreatic cancer. My dad epitomized joy and gregariousness. Whether it be as a Little League coach, a memorable dinner party host, a painter, or an entrepreneur, my dad infused all of his endeavors with a sense of commitment. Even as he underwent a series of treatments from October 2013 to June 2016, he still made a point of regaling guests at the Amherst College reunion with stories from his college days, and of taking me to all of his favorite hangouts in New York City from his days living in the city in the early Eighties. In other words, he refused to let pancreatic cancer rob him of his zest for life. In fact, just two days before his passing, my dad and I were engaged in one of our favorite pastimes: watching a San Francisco Giants game on tv, talking strategy and cheering on our favorite players as the game progressed.

My dad's larger-than-life nature made it all the more difficult for my family to cope with his diagnosis and passing. We witnessed the debilitating effects of pancreatic cancer, the ways in which it can viciously curtail an otherwise vigorous life. While my mom and I struggled at first to accept the heartbreaking reality of my dad's passing, we are now focused on doing what we can to eradicate pancreatic cancer and to prevent other loved ones from suffering from the disease. It is our way of honoring his memory.

PurpleStride serves as one way in which I keep my relationship with my dad alive. It also allows me to be a part of a movement aimed at doubling the pancreatic cancer survival rate by 2020. I believe that we will one day find a cure, and I'm proud to be a part of an organization and an event that strives to make that belief a reality.

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Kinsey Fennebresque

My children will not know their wonderful grandparents, but they will know them through my sister and me. We will teach them to live like "Gigi" and "T." My parents were filled with love, compassion, dignity, integrity, and principle. My parents treated everyone the same, with kindness and respect. They were loved by everyone that knew them.

Purple Stride NYC is just around the corner! I have been actively involved with PanCan.org for a year now. It is such a warm, inviting, and impressive organization. My fellow volunteers have been instrumental in helping me cope with my grief and I have made real friends there. Every individual at PanCan.org has been touched in some way by Pancreatic Cancer and their commitment to raise awareness (there is next to none), develop an Early Detection test (doesn't exist), and to find a cure is relentless.

I stride in honor of my parents, Tom and Pam Banzet. I lost my mother, Pam, to Pancreatic Cancer in October of 2017 (just a few short months ago). I lost my father, Tom, to the same evil disease in January of 2013. In their honor, I will devote time to finding a cure. I will teach my son, Fenn, to turn a painful experience into something that can help others. My children will not know their wonderful grandparents, but they will know them through my sister and me. We will teach them to live like "Gigi" and "T." My parents were filled with love, compassion, dignity, integrity, and principle. My parents treated everyone the same, with kindness and respect. They were loved by everyone that knew them.

Please help me reach my goal this year! Every little bit helps and is appreciated!

THANK YOU to everyone who has reached out to me and my family. The amount of love we have received has been overwhelming.



Lots of Love: Kinsey, Billy, Fenn + Helen, Brian, Kate

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Sonja Whipp

After my mom's diagnosis, she always remained hopeful and continued doing the things she loved: spending time with family, teaching college, conducting research, gardening, cooking, attending to the opera, and traveling to see friends. Her eternal hope and joie de vivre are what fuel me forward in the fight to end pancreatic cancer.

I stride in loving memory of my mom, Joan. In September 2016, she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and passed away in February 2017. The diagnosis came as such a shock to our family since my mom was always in good health and rarely had as much as a sniffle. Shortly before her diagnosis, we took our annual family vacation to Door County, WI where we stayed in a beautiful Swedish-themed (a nod to my mom's Swedish roots) on Lake Michigan. The picture on the left is from a sunset boat ride we took where I taught my mom how to take the perfect selfie. I'd say she perfected the art of the selfie!

After my mom's diagnosis, she always remained hopeful and continued doing the things she loved: spending time with family, teaching college, conducting research, gardening, cooking, attending to the opera, and traveling to see friends. Her eternal hope and joie de vivre are what fuel me forward in the fight to end pancreatic cancer. We must increase the chances of survival for those who face this terrible disease.

Since my mom’s passing, I’ve connected with others who’ve lost loved ones to pancreatic cancer, to caregivers, and to those facing pancreatic cancer themselves. We are all connected for an awful reason, but I am energized to be among a group of passionate people who are all united for the same reason: to end pancreatic cancer. I vow to stride until there is a cure for pancreatic cancer.