The Grimaldis Give Back In Celebration of Kasey Grimaldi’s Pancreatic Cancer Survival

10 year pancreatic cancer survivor Kasey Grimaldi

Kasey Grimaldi is a ten-year pancreatic cancer survivor, and as such, is no stranger to the hardships that come with this disease. Throughout her cancer journey, Kasey has experienced many losses, but she has never let them close her off from hope and positivity. After ten years, Kasey wants to celebrate her triumphs, and her losses, by hosting a fundraiser with Project Purple. She hopes the proceeds from the event will provide other patients with the support they need to continue to fight. 

The Grimaldi’s event, Creating Miracles, will be on Saturday, October 7. Their friends, John Laudati and Tracy Cavaciuti have offered their property, Manitook Camp in Granby as a venue for the celebration. The event will go from 2-8 pm with food and drinks available throughout the festivities. There will also be live music during the event. They will also host an online auction and sell tickets for raffle baskets. The event will be a celebration and a call to action. 

Registration is now closed for this event, but you can donate here!

Kasey Never Stops Fighting 

Kasey Grimaldi has been a pancreatic cancer survivor for ten years. During that time, she has loved and lost a lot due to this deadly disease. However, Kasey continues to hope for a brighter future and a world without pancreatic cancer. Now, she is taking steps to make that dream a reality. Kasey and her family have teamed up with Project Purple, a nonprofit committed to eradicating pancreatic cancer, to host a fundraiser to celebrate Kasey’s ten-year anniversary. 

Pancreatic cancer is one of the most deadly cancers known to date, with only a twelve percent survival rate. Kasey beat the odds, but the battle she fought was hard won.

Kasey’s diagnosis came out of nowhere, which is sadly very common for pancreatic cancer patients. At 48, Kasey was in good health, had a beautiful family, and was working a job she loved as a social worker with the Department of Children and Families. However, when she received her diagnosis, her world was turned upside down. 

“When I was first diagnosed, I didn’t even know what the pancreas did,” said Kasey, “I didn’t know what end was up. I had always been healthy, very into my diet, always in the gym, all of it. So, when all these issues started happening, I just didn’t know. I didn’t know the severity. I had never heard of pancreatic cancer back then, and then all of a sudden, it felt like that was all I could see around me.” 

Kasey had experienced seemingly random abdominal pains. When they got too severe, she contacted her doctor. Initially, her practitioner assumed there was something wrong with the gallbladder. When the pain persisted, her GI doctor recommended she seek treatment at the hospital. After several days of tests, Kasey was diagnosed with stage 2B pancreatic cancer. In a very short amount of time, Kasey was forced to retire from her job so she could focus on her health. The transition was very jarring for her and her family. 

“It was just this whole transformation of life,” said Kasey, “on top of being scared of not knowing if I was even going to live despite going through all this horrific treatment and not feeling well and having to get up every day and go to these sessions.”

Kasey’s battle was intense. Within a few days of her diagnosis, she became jaundiced. The doctors performed an ERCP procedure to open her common bile duct. This sudden procedure was followed quickly by her Whipple procedure two weeks later. This next surgery was even more invasive and extensive than the first, lasting a total of nine and a half hours. 

After the procedure, Kasey still wasn’t done with her battle. Her cancer had spread up her bile duct and towards her liver, as well as the lymph nodes. After her procedure, the doctors found remaining cancer cells around her bile duct, prompting her to continue treatment. She went through almost eight months of highly rigorous chemotherapy treatments, including radiation and oral and intravenous chemo. Kasey admits that she is still grappling with the after-effects of her treatments, both mentally and physically. 

“A lot of times, it was like I wasn’t even present,” said Kasey, “I kind of just did what I was told to do. And even looking back now, there are a lot of things I don’t remember, like details. I don’t know if that’s the brain’s way or the body’s way of shutting out certain things.”

However, there were several bright spots throughout her battle, and those small bits of happiness kept Kasey going. Being at home gave her the ability to spend time with her young daughter, something she had not gotten to do very often as a social worker. She was lucky enough to have a partner who could be there for her as well. Kasey admits that her husband has always been her rock, especially throughout her cancer journey. 

“My husband was phenomenal and still is,” said Kasey, “He just took control of the whole situation and never really gave me all this time to have a pity party for myself. He would say, ‘Alright, feel sorry, you’re in a funk today, but let’s keep moving.’ Keep moving forward, that was his thing.” 

She also had an incredible support system that saw her through her darkest moments, something she couldn’t be more grateful for.

“If I didn’t have the support system I had, it would have gone very differently for me,” said Kasey. “There were always people in my corner, you know, my DCF family, my daughter’s daycare provider, they were all unbelievable. They started a meal train so my husband didn’t have to worry about that and they offered to drive my daughter places because she was heavily involved in gymnastics at the time. It was incredible.” 

This support has meant the world to Kasey. She admits that without the support of her DCF family, and their generous donation of six months of sick time, she would have never been able to transfer into retirement. Their contributions kept her family in their home and helped them make ends meet while Kasey underwent treatment. All of their efforts have now inspired her to give that same support to others who don’t have the same help that she did during her diagnosis. 

Fundraising for the Fight Against Pancreatic Cancer  

Since her recovery, Kasey has become a caregiver to many who have suffered from pancreatic cancer. She offers support, talking with them about their diagnosis, and being a shoulder to lean on during treatments. However, this role has come with a lot of loss. 

“I would start relationships with people, I’d go visit them and I felt needed, you know, I was always available by phone,” Kasey explains. “And I always had hope, like I did for myself, that they were going to get better. And not one of them got better. All of them died. Every person that I’ve encountered since my journey. And, you know, I could crawl into a hole over that, and the survivor’s guilt, there are just so many emotions that come with all of it. But I also know that I’ve helped them, both when they were going through it, and then their families that are now left behind.”

Even though she has experienced so much loss during her cancer journey, she has never let it stop her from reaching out to others. Now, she wants to give back to the cancer community in a big way by partnering with Project Purple.

To help patients in need, Kasey has teamed up with Project Purple to host a fundraiser. She hopes to lend a helping hand to those who don’t have the same support she received while battling pancreatic cancer. 

“If I can help in any way, you know, I love what Project Purple does, especially with the direct work with the patients and the families,” said Kasey. “I personally know people who have struggled financially after that diagnosis… And I can’t imagine going through this alone or having the added stress of not being able to pay your bills. Anything we can do on our end, after everything I have been through, is very important to me. It’s bad enough dealing with the disease, but then to have to worry about all of that other stuff, it’s a big deal.” 

Kasey had never heard of Project Purple until one of her friends connected her with the cause.  Candice, Kasey’s friend, and former co-worker, ran a marathon with the organization for her friend to honor her struggle with pancreatic cancer. Kasey’s story has inspired her to run every year with a Project Purple team, and that constant support connected Kasey with a new community. 

“Every year she would do races for Project Purple, and it was always on Facebook, and we always gave money, and I always wrote up a blurb, trying to get other people to support her because I thought the organization was so great,” said Kasey. “When my daughter posted some stuff for Mother’s Day thanking everybody, all these people commented. Candice was one of the first ones to respond, she was so excited, she said count me in. That’s how it all started, because of Candice.”  

Project Purple is a non-profit organization with a mission to end pancreatic cancer. Its primary source of funding is through peer-to-peer fundraising by individuals participating in marathons, half marathons, and other physical activities. Project Purple has funded nearly $3 million in research and provided more than $700,000 in financial aid to help patients cover medical bills, utilities, and housing costs while undergoing treatment. To be able to help provide those funds to help patients in need is something that Kasey is very proud of. 

“It means the world to me. I’m all about paying it forward, that’s big to me,” said Kasey. “Always helping others through my job as a social worker, and now not doing that every day anymore, this is my way in that sense of helping others. It’s one thing to talk with people going through the experience, but to take it to the next level and raise funds to help those that may not have the support, the fiscal means, and the family support to get them through like I had, is very important to me.” 

Kasey is now looking forward to making a difference. If you are interested in attending the event, tickets for Creating Miracles will be $30 per person. Please click here to register for the event, or donate to the Grimaldi’s fundraiser. Thank you so much to Kasey, and all our other survivors who continue to fight for a world without pancreatic cancer.

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