When Rob Stuardi was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, he told his wife he would run a marathon if he survived his illness. This October, Rob kept his promise to himself when he ran the 2017 Chicago Marathon with Project Purple. Rob raised over $14,000 to help others affected by pancreatic cancer and learned about himself in the process. We celebrate pancreatic cancer survivor Rob Stuardi’s health and marathon success during pancreatic cancer awareness month!
Years of Suffering with Pancreatitis
In 2012, Rob first experienced the pain of pancreatitis. Over the next three years, despite his best efforts to stop the painful pancreatitis attacks, he ended up in the hospital several times. He nearly died on a couple of occasions from infection and procedural complications.
Finally, in 2015, Rob was diagnosed with an IPMN, a neoplasm of the pancreas which can sometimes become malignant. That Novemeber, Rob traveled from his home in Mobile, Alabama to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD for a Whipple surgery. After his Whipple surgery, Rob learned has IPMN contained an area of adenocarcinoma. Fortunately, his cancer was caught so early it had not yet become invasive. Since his tumor was still incapsulated, he needed no further treatment following his surgery.
Pancreatic Cancer Survivor Rob Stuardi Runs Chicago Marathon
While recovering from his Whipple, Rob told his wife he wanted to run a marathon. He had run several 10K and half-marathon distance races, but never considered himself a ‘serious’ runner. That changed this year, as he trained for and completed the Chicago Marathon with Project Purple.
Rob says, “Chicago was aweseome, but very hard. I hit that thing they call ‘the wall’ at mile 16.” As is common for first-time marathon runners, he got a little caught up in the moment and went out too fast. He actually ran his half-marathon PR in the first half of Chicago. Unsurprisingly, his body complained a bit in the following miles. He adds, “You know, at mile 17 or 18, I was like, ‘Why now? We had this plan that the wall was going to be at like mile 22 or 23, and not at mile 16’.”
Hits the Wall but Keeps Moving Forward for Project Purple
However, Rob is a fighter and a smart man. He assessed his situation and knew he could finish the race. He explains, “I am 17 miles into a marathon and I am in serious pain, but I am a survivor of pancreatic cancer. I am running this race not only for myself but for all of those people who made donations to Project Purple because they have been affected by pancreatic cancer.” He said some prayers and told himself to ‘suck up’ the pain. Needless to say, Rob finished his first marathon that day in Chicago.
“Of course this was my first marathon and I am now hooked,” Rob adds. He hopes to run a marathon in the spring of 2018 and plans to run the 2018 New York City Marathon with Project Purple. He adds, “I am committed to bringing as much awareness to pancreatic cancer and Project Purple as possible. If I can do this running a marathon, then God, please give me the strength to do as many as I can until you call me home.”
‘It’s Possible to Beat Pancreatic Cancer’
This November, pancreatic cancer survivor Rob Stuardi wants people to know it is possible to beat pancreatic cancer. He explains, “I want people to know that the diagnosis, which is a terrible thing, can be beat. I am still cancer free two years after the Whipple. Having pancreatic cancer early detection is what is important and we need to keep investing money into research that will help with early detection.”
While Rob’s battle was extremely difficult, he wants people to remember he fought and won against pancreatic cancer. “I won the battle over cancer, but this could not have happened without the help of my team. In my case, the team was God, family, friends, co-workers, doctors, nurses, and surgeons. I am truly blessed and honored.”
You can still donate to Rob’s Chicago Marathon fundraiser. Click HERE to help Rob in the fight against pancreatic cancer!