It wasn’t until my dad went to the hospital did we realize this was serious. Dad was never sick. He never complained nor did he let us know he was not feeling good for quite some time. Tiredness and loss of appetite were just a few he shared afterwards. When he finally went to the hospital for the dry heaves it was discovered that his liver enzymes were high and he had jaundice. Dad beat colon cancer and he would beat whatever was making him sick again. It was my dad.
After spending almost 2 weeks in the hospital trying to figure out what was wrong, all the while thinking dad would be okay, I will never forget the day, or the words my dad calmly uttered to us on Feb. 16, 2017. “I have cancer of the pancreas” and “there is nothing the doctors can do.” It was only a few seconds later did I realize what he was saying to us. I knew what this meant and I couldn’t believe the doctors couldn’t make my dad better, and I couldn’t do anything to make it okay. Dad was going to die from this silent and deadly disease, pancreatic cancer. On April 19, 2017, 62 days after he was diagnosed, we lost our sweet, quiet and funny dad.
During my dad’s battle I used the internet to try and learn more about pancreatic cancer. In my search I came across Project Purple’s website. The more I read the more I was drawn to their cause. Not only because of my dad, but also as a runner. As I continued to scroll through the events I noticed they were a charity partner for the Chicago Marathon. I was already accepted to run the marathon in 2017 through the Chicago Marathon’s lottery system. However as I continued to read and learn, my finger impulsively clicked on Project Purple’s Chicago Team’s fundraising page and without realizing it I became part of the team. I called my mom and dad immediately to tell them I was going to raise money for pancreatic cancer. They were my first donors. My intention was to only raise a little bit of money for pancreatic cancer, and I would run Chicago in honor of my dad. When I told my dad, his words to me were, “good for you.” After my dad passed away Project Purple reached out to me and asked if I would become an official team member. Of course I said yes and instead of raising “a little bit” of money I ended up raising “a lot” of money for Project Purple, and I had my dad with me every step of the way. Taking a chance on that one click changed my life.
I run and support Project Purple in honor of my dad. He’s my “WHY”. Dino Verrelli, CEO of Project Purple, is a fearless leader. Staying involved with Project Purple and putting on the purple jersey is an honor. It allows me to tell my story, fundraise, raise awareness and help Project Purple’s mission in the fight against pancreatic cancer. I am honored to be part of the Ambassador Program, and through the years I have met good people within the Project Purple community. I hope one day, with our efforts, pancreatic cancer will no longer be the 2nd leading cause of cancer related deaths, and will have a higher mortality rate of more than 10%. This is why I continue to be part of Project Purple’s journey.