Thank you Project Purple Runners!

November is an important month in the world of pancreatic cancer and I could not let it pass without acknowledging the significance. November is pancreatic cancer awareness month. This is month when we shout from the rooftops about pancreatic cancer, raising awareness and advocating for more research dollars. Last Friday was World Pancreatic Cancer day where Project Purple joined forces with other pancreatic cancer organizations from around the globe to raise awareness about the deadly disease. It is also an important month personally for me. In November, 2013, I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I am now officially a two-year pancreatic cancer survivor. I have spent a great deal of time recently thinking about the wonderful things that have happened over last two years of my own survivorship. One of the biggest blessings in my life has been my involvement with Project Purple.This blog post is a celebration of my Project Purple family and a way of extending my thanks to all of our runners.


I have had the pleasure of interviewing many of our incredible runners over the last year. I have interviewed people who have run Boston, New York City, Chicago, Marine Corps, Lincoln, Denver and other races as part of the Project Purple teams. I have interviewed runners who have finished 5ks, 10ks, half-marathons, marathons and even ultramarathons through our Pioneer Program. I have interviewed people who have participated in Spartans and other obstacle races for Project Purple. I have learned all of the reasons why our athletes have chosen to join the Project Purple family. I have listened to stories about mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, uncles, aunts, grandparents and friends who have been affected by pancreatic cancer. I have laughed with our runners as they have relayed favorite anecdotes of their loved ones. I have cried with our runners as they have told me about the pain that pancreatic cancer has brought into their lives. I have felt privileged that so many of our athletes have shared their stories with me and I am honored to be the person who gets to share their stories with the world.


I have been inspired by our runners. We have runners who have overcome incredible odds of their own. We have runners who are living with significant chronic health issues which might have sidelined other people. Yet these amazing runners have chosen to run and fundraise for pancreatic cancer because they believe so strongly in working towards finding a cure. We have runners who have overcome physical injuries. We have team members who are new to running, or who have come back to running after breaks that sometimes span decades. We have runners who have undergone incredible physical transformations in order to get themselves into the condition necessary to run a half or full marathon. We have runners who are pre-teens and teens and we have runners in their 60s. We have men and women who come from very diverse backgrounds. Despite all of the difference, they are all united by one common bond and one common goal: they want to fight back against pancreatic cancer.


Whether they know it or not, our Project Purple runners are inspiring others to do things that they thought were impossible. Our runners have tackled race distances that they previously could not fathom. They have shown themselves and others that with dedication, perseverance and training, anything is possible. They have logged miles in the dark, in the snow, in the rain and in the blazing heat so that they could finish their chosen races.  Our runners are an amazing group of people who have come together through a connection to this horribly deadly illness. Our runners have faced tragedy and loss, and yet they have chosen to push themselves to do something incredibly selfless in attempts to make a difference for others. They all want to take tragic circumstances and turn it into something positive for others.

Some of our runners were once afraid to fundraise. Yet, they have conquered their fears and in the process found that people are extremely generous and are happy and willing to give. Our runners have learned that it feels good to raise money for research and to help other families who have been affected by pancreatic cancer. Our runners have discovered that running for Project Purple gives their training a sense of purpose. They are energized by their mission to beat pancreatic cancer. They find that running for a cause gives them the motivation they need to get out the door each and every day.


I have been incredibly humbled to hear our runners’ stories, to speak with them, and to write about them. I have been so grateful to have the opportunity to meet many of our athletes in Lincoln, NE and in Denver, CO. It has been incredibly moving to be a part of the Project Purple family. I never would have become a part of Project Purple if I had not been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Though the diagnosis was devastating for me and my family, I am grateful for the people that I have met through my involvement with Project Purple, for they are now my second family. They give me inspiration and hope that soon we will make headway towards a cure for pancreatic cancer.

As I celebrate pancreatic cancer awareness month and two years of pancreatic cancer survival, I want to extend my heartfelt appreciation to everyone who is a part of the Project Purple family. Project Purple runners are helping to make a difference today and every day. They are funding critical research and they are assisting families who are currently facing a pancreatic cancer diagnosis. Thank you, runners. You truly are Project Purple.

If you are looking for a way to make a difference in the world, consider joining the Project Purple running family. We have spots available on several half and full marathon teams. Runners can also choose any race and fundraise through our Pioneer Program. Celebrate survival with me and make your running about something bigger than yourself. It is my hope that we will soon have many more long-term survivors. Two years may not seem like a long time to some, but to my family and me, it means everything. There have been birthdays, a prom, a driver’s license, a college acceptance, wedding anniversaries and so much more. Most importantly, every once of those days has given us a chance to say “I love you” to one another. Every family affected by pancreatic cancer deserves more time with their loved ones. Please join us and help us fight back against pancreatic cancer.


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