Redheaded Step Child…

First, I made it to Philly. My mother and I have gone shopping together and we are waiting for my various siblings and their families to join us for dinner! I am very glad I could make it and I am glad my brothers and sister (and their families) will get an opportunity to see me before I start chemo/radiation, etc.!!!

Last night, after I had (mostly) recovered from my “porting,” I went over to the karate school and helped out with class. The main reason, though, was (a) so that “my” students (Thank you Mr. Quinn for allowing me to teach at AK) could see that I was up and about, and (b) so that I could reconnect with Ayanna TooveyGreen. Ayanna’s son had been taking karate at AK prior to my starting, but he was always “Smylon” and a (generally) happy disposition. Ayanna re-married last year to a man in the military and they were, sadly, re-stationed in Arizona. Earlier this year, Ayanna and her son moved and left a void in the AK family. Happily, though, Ayanna and her son were back in town and I wanted to spend time with them.

Her son is less than pleased with moving to Arizona (as he essentially lobbied everyone at the school for sanctuary (from Arizona). Ayanna, who is pregnant with a little girl, was met with hugs and kisses from both students and parents alike! So much so that, when all was said and done, I had to wait until after classes to get some time to sit down and chat. So Ayanna, her cousin, Star, and I went to get something to eat, and here is where the title of this post becomes germane.

We got dinner at a food court at a mall owned by the Simons corporation. Hanging in the food court was a huge banner that said Simons would donate $1 to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure fund. Now, this post in no way should be interpreted as suggesting that donating to support breast cancer research / treatment is not appropriate. Instead, it highlights my perception that pancreas cancer is the redheaded step child of cancers.

I had noted, while visiting the oncologist, a sign that listed a variety of awareness ribbons for different kinds of cancer: breast cancer (pink); prostate cancer (blue); leukemia (orange); bladder / liver cancer (yellow); etc.; however, there was no listing for pancreas cancer (though, I have since learned that “our” color is purple). Indeed, on the sign at the oncologist’s office, pancreas cancer would have been represented by the lavender ribbon (CNOS – “cancer not otherwise specified” — that was my interpretation; the sign did NOT say that)!!

I understand that pancreas cancer is very rare (an incidence rate around 0.01% in the United States, in general; even more rare is being diagnosed with pancreas cancer under the age of 50), but it remains the 4th (or 5th depending on the source) leading cause of cancer-related death in the country. Despite its prominence as a leading cause of cancer-related death, there is relatively little advocacy for pancreas cancer. Awareness was raised when Patrick Swayze announced he had it. Moreover, I have spent some time reading Dr. Randy Pausch’s blog and once the video of his “Last Lecture” became so popular on the Internet, he wrote that he was going to use his “D-list celebrity to do some good.” So he has recorded some public service announcements about pancreas cancer and even gone before congress to testify (check out his website for clips of his PSAs and his testimony). By the way, Dr. Pausch added to the information he talked about in his lecture and it is now available as a book (also entitled The Last Lecture).

His example has motivated me to do something, but I’m not entirely certain what. If nothing else, perhaps this blog will help others (outside of those affected by MY having pancreas cancer; a friend of mine, Renee, told me she shared my blog with a friend of hers who has severe environmental alergies who, as a result, lives a very isolated life. Renee told me he found some solace / inspiration from my blog). Feel free to let me know if you have any ideas!

There I go being all verbose again…