“Lenny, is that you?”, is what my dad asked as a visitor walked in on June 7th 2015. Lenny was his older brother who died of pancreatic cancer a year prior. I asked my dad what he said and he shook his head and said, “never mind”. I often think of that time and wonder if it was the drugs talking or if my dad was here on Earth physically but mentally somewhere else. He passed away from pancreatic cancer on June 8th.
Often people say to me, “your dad would be proud of you” and I remember this out of body experience on June 7th and can’t help but think that maybe people should say, “your dad IS proud of you.” While June 7th was the last time I hugged my dad I can always feel his presence. He had that effect on people in life too. Ever present. I once broke his case that holds his bolts and rather than fess up to it and take the punishment I took the whole case and buried it under leaves in the woods. Somehow he still found it. Ever present.
There are a bunch of songs I listen to when thinking of my father. Music helps me cope and remember. One song I really relate to is Long Way From Home by The Lumineers. The singers father passed of cancer as well and the song is about that experience. There is a line in the song where he says, “you’re right next to me but you’re a long way from home.” It really is something else to experience. And hard to understand that feeling unless you have been there.
The past few years I had hoped that I would one day get to a place where I could talk about this experience and help fight pancreatic cancer. While I may not be in a place where I want to hold conversations about it I do feel a calling to use my passion to bring awareness to this terrible disease.
This year we have teamed up with Project Purple to launch a fundraiser. Different from others that we have done this one asks participants to find folks to help support them/sponsor them for a very special workout we will do on November 3rd. I like this concept because it helps raise awareness. If you get one person to donate a dollar I am excited about that because one more person knows that pancreatic cancer is the third leading cause of cancer related deaths. Or they know that pancreatic cancer has the lowest survival rate of any cancer. Or how it is virtually undetectable until it is too late.
Here is how the fundraiser will work:
- Sign up and join our team by following this link… Project Purple 410 CrossFit Team Page
- We will be doing a kickoff workout tomorrow (June 8th). This workout is the Project Purple awareness workout.
- After this, spread the word. Send your personalized link to friends and family. Talk to co-workers. Ask them to donate to support you for a big workout we are doing on November 3rd. Even if they don’t donate at least they will know a bit more about pancreatic cancer. As a side bonus, Project Purple has partnerships and folks can win prizes for their fundraising efforts.
- We will perform a workout on November 3rd that I made for my dad on what would have been his 61st birthday. We have done this same workout that past few years. It is a Saturday this year. I am hoping to have someone available to talk briefly about pancreatic cancer. Current research, rates, screening, etc.
When my dad was diagnosed he was 58. I remember him shaking his head and saying, “I wont even see 60.” We made plans to make the next Christmas, which was in 8 months, as special as we could. The cancer was so aggressive and progressed so rapidly that we only had 2 months. He didn’t even see 59.
I know that if this had been caught a month sooner that his chances of getting the cancer surgically removed or being able to get in more than one day of chemo would have been far better. Hopefully, by bringing awareness to this disease we can get more research behind treatment and screening options so that pancreatic cancer doesn’t have so many sad stories.