Wage Hope at PurpleStride. The walk to end pancreatic cancer.
Wage Hope to end pancreatic cancer
By: Brandon Caywood
My dad, Aaron, was (and still is) my hero. He was my best friend. He was a devoted husband, father, and “Papa.” Unfortunately, his life was cut short because of pancreatic cancer.
At the end of February 2019, Aaron began experience discomfort in his abdomen. This discomfort escalated to severe bloating, constipation, and fluid retention in his abdominal cavity. Having recently returned from Mexico, his doctor initially treated him for parasites and other infections. As treatments came and went, his condition continued to deteriorate. On Monday, March 11th, Aaron had a CT scan, to search for potential blockage. The CT showed a large, inoperable, pancreatic mass. A biopsy performed the next day confirmed Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer.
Aaron was given 12 to 18 months to live with chemotherapy. Unfortunately, this wasn’t meant to be. Aaron was hospitalized in the early hours of April 1st, with severe nausea and kidney failure. Aaron passed from this life on April 4th with his family by his side. He was 58 years old.
Aaron had no family history of pancreatic cancer. Retrospectively, the signs of this insidious disease were there. In the months leading up to his death, he was experiencing extreme back pain and discomfort. He noted a change in his digestion and mentioned “not being able to eat like I used to.” He wrote this off as getting older and thought he would look into some of these health problems at his next physical.
Often pancreatic cancer symptoms are silent. The pancreas is deep inside the body, which is one of the many reasons early detection is difficult. Symptoms can be written off as simply getting older, a diet that is finally working, or just a case of diabetes. Unfortunately for most pancreatic cancer patients, by the time they learn of their cancer, it is too late. The five-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer is only 10%.
In 2020, an estimated 57,600 Americans will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. This is projected to be the 11th most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States, and is projected to remain the third-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the country. Nearly 47,050 Americans are expected to die from pancreatic cancer this year.
April 4th will mark one year since my dad’s passing to this terrible disease. My family and I plan to walk to remember him. Our hope is to raise awareness for pancreatic cancer and to raise money to fight this disease. We can’t bring my father back, but we hope we can make a difference for the future fighters of pancreatic cancer. Please join us on April 4th of this year in Scottsdale to walk to end pancreatic cancer.