We get one heart, one liver, one pancreas, one body and we have to make it last a long time. I recall my childhood family doctor saying something about how stressing (or wearing out) the pancreas can cause diabetes. I thought it was a strange way to talk about the cause of illness, but he was really on point. In recent years my mind has taken a quantum leap from diabetes to Pancreatic cancer. When we lost my Dad in 2009 to Pancreatic Cancer I wondered how his habits may have left his body vulnerable to the disease. Today I understand Pancreatic cancer develops from damage to DNA, and the risk factors we see with most disease apply in this case too. One in 76 people will develop this disease and having one of these risk factors raises your chances.
Genetics. 5 – 10% of people with pancreatic cancer have an immediate family member who also has pancreatic cancer. Hello, scares me to death!
Diabetes. There is controversy as to whether diabetes causes Pancreatic cancer, or if the malfunction as cancer developes CAUSES the diabetes.
Smoking. When has smoking ever been good for us.
Obesity and inactivity. No need to even comment on this.
Diet. Less animal fats — more vegetables!
All of these risk factors exist in every disease, and some even have a genetic component to them. The frightening thing about Pancreatic Cancer is how insidious it is. Before we even knew my Dad had the disease it was already in his lymph and liver, and this man went to the doctor regularly for an array of medical conditions. All of his physicians were shocked with the diagnosis. I’m not saying this is the only condition which takes those we love, but it is the one I have chosen to support by building awareness and soon a cure.
After my Dad’s death I don’t know if I was more frightened or angry, but in my search to understand I found The Lustgarten Foundation. They offered me a way to fight back. So, last September my family, friends and I organized the Walt Fili Memorial Pancreatic Cancer Research Walk in St. Louis. The Lustgarten Foundation, underwritten by Cablevision, provided outstanding guidance and support for us as we forged ahead to raise awareness and money. We had 100 walkers and raised over $8,000. The photographer who donated her time and talents made a great slide show of the event. You are welcome to enjoy it and perhaps find a walk in your area. http://www.fireflyimage.com/users/CarmenTroesser2948/docs/fili/
This year we will do it again and hope to double our results. Mark your calendars for Saturday, September 10, 2011 in St.Louis at Frontier Park in St. Charles, Missouri. You can get details of this event on The Lustgarten web site under walks. http://www.lustgarten.org/Page.aspx?pid=824
Join me and thousands of people across this country who seek to make this as treatable as some of the other disease we battle.