Around the holidays in 1999 my mom was experiencing serious abdominal pain. Within 1 month she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. She passed away early Easter Sunday morning just months later. Mom was in her sixties and at the time had a half a dozen kids and 7 grandkids, I rarely talk about it and it is the hardest experience of my life. The rare occasions that I do are usually just because a casual conversation leads to me speaking of mom in the past tense and people inquire about her. I then just usually say:
My mom is deceased, she passed away from pancreatic cancer.
Thankfully for our family we were close and the experience of losing a parent brought us even closer together. I also learned about the resilience of young people, specifically my nieces and nephews on that day. Easter celebrations went forward and the kids laughing and experiencing Easter was very therapeutic for all the adults watching. Mom passing at that point was in many ways a relief, there was nothing peaceful about her suffering and watching it changed me forever.
Pancreatic Cancer is a Lethal Disease
I recently learned from survivor Diane Borrison that 43,000 Americans will be diagnosed with the disease this year and 39,000 of them will die from the disease. Diane’s story as a survivor is somewhat rare, and I am grateful that I will be able to speak with her on June 8th along with two other guests that lost parents on my Blog Talk Radio program.
There are two reasons you are reading about this on my blog. The first is that I read several serious posts on blogs that I am a frequent reader of but in particular Danny Brown’s post “You Don’t Have to Die to Live” where he recounts a very dark moment in his life. (Thanks for paving the way, mate). The second reason is one of my panelists, Judy Loyd, was a past guest on my program. We happened to be exchanging E-Mails recently and she asked me if I would do a show about Pancreatic Cancer awareness. Neither one of us realized at the time that we’d both lost parents to the disease; Judy definitely came to the right person and for me at the right time. I honestly don’t think I could have come within 1,000 miles of an episode on Pancreatic cancer up until about maybe 2 years ago. I applaud Judy, Diane and my third panelist Michelle Monhart for their courage to champion the cause of Pancreatic Cancer Awareness as part of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.
Mom’s Inspiring Legacy
While losing Mom was a horrible experience, I consider myself to be extremely fortunate. I was extremely lucky to have grown up with her as my mom. She left quite a legacy behind and it has driven me to be a better person and example to my own son. I have been told from time to time that I wear a friendly inviting smile, I still remember mom’s smile beaming back at me teaching me at a young age that it was important (coincidently whenever I picture her she is always smiling, that is how I will remember her). I share similar smiles with my son every day. Service to others is part of my life through Rotary and volunteerism. Mom was a tireless volunteer her entire life and introduced her kids to it by bringing us with her some times. My mom had a reputation for loving babies; she had a total of seven. It is often said that mom was happiest when she was pregnant or caring for her many babies. Even though you may have not met my mom, rest assured there is a good chance that if you know me you know her too. I am grateful for her powerful and inspiring legacy.
A simple request…
I hope you will join me in raising awareness about Pancreatic Cancer. Please visit the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. Like their Facebook Page, Follow their Twitter Account, Donate or share with your network of friends. If you’d like to join the discussion on June 8th, listen to the show on Blog Talk Radio. If you are in Northern California or wish to make a trip to the Napa Valley in June, you can also join in the 9th Annual Walk Through the Vineyards.