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Wednesday, October 31, 2018

You have been my Story of Love

Congratulations on finishing this 31 Days Series...

The stories we've shared... the impossible, demanding, extra-ordinary, amazing, beautiful stories of our lives.  And how cancer can and does change how we live out our story...

I know that in our story, pancreatic cancer interrupted our nice, normal lives with a vengeance.  Yet, it also allowed Grace to show us a more excellent way to Love each other and live life well.

Cancer can and does shape our journey.  But it does not define it.

Finding Grace in this Shadow Valley is the promise... and the Grace-Giver never fails to meet us there.

And finally... drum roll please...

Congratulations to this Man, Farmer Husband...

He is Retired!!!

We leave tonight for a long-overdue trip together... Celebrating Huge milestones and Amazing accomplishments!

We'll be back in 2 weeks... and we just might have a picture (or two) to share!!

Love you Always and Forever!

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Mom's Story... and a Humble Bit of News!

Mom's story is and always will be the heartbeat of the Pancreatic Cancer Journey.

It is our Story of Love.

For seven years we have shared that story... of the hard graces that have been so much a part of the journey.  Because of cancer.

And yet, there are parts of the story that are tucked away, like precious jewels.

Mom's letters to us... our journal entries... cherished moments... sacred space kind of treasures...

We've gathered these together.  A Story of Love born out of the fires of a pancreatic cancer diagnosis.  This is our story...

Finding Grace in the Shadow Valley

Our story, mom's story, will be out in December.  It has been the sweetest, hardest labor of love... Facing the Fears of re-living those days and months bloodied on the cancer battlefield.

In the way of coping with a grief so monumental, we have held on to the smiles, the laughter, the beautiful memories that bring solace.

And we've shuttered the nightmare fragments of the journey, sequestering the pain and the hurt into a box we try never to open.

Of course, it doesn't always work... a scent, her fragrance, folding her favorite sheets, finding a hidden gift months after her passing, the diamond on my finger, all are triggers that bring a flood... emotions that still can swamp.  We miss her so much...

The journals from those hard, hard days have been gathering dust these past years... we could never let them go, but it has been, oh so painful to open the curling pages and read the words that poured from our broken hearts.  

Yes, Cancer has shaped our journey. has not defined it.

For on those same journal pages we have encountered the deep, abiding joys, the stories brimming with laughter, and the overwhelming promise of a life lived so well.  Mom's fingerprints cover each word and point to the riches of God's favor even in the darkest of valleys...

Finding Grace... it is what has made facing our fears possible.

And it brings Hope to the Shadow Valley every. single. time.


My Love,

Monday, October 29, 2018

Redeeming the Pain...

There's a bit of irony in writing tiny little blog posts in an obscure corner of the web... I'd like to think I was writing for you, for the other cancer warriors in the battle... but it turns out that mostly I'm finding my way back to Hope.

The writing has been a balm to this sore heart... losing mom was a singular event that has colored all my thoughts since then.  The writing, well, it has helped unravel what has tangled my soul.

And this 31 Days series?  This one on Stories of Love?  It has fleshed out one of my biggest issues.

In post after post, these anecdotal ramblings, the central theme of Fear has leapt off the page...

Over and Over... Here and Here...

Fear can keep you hobbled.  Afraid to move.  Or even breathe...

And this pancreatic cancer journey, it has been laced with Fear, from the very first moment we heard the diagnosis.  Walking out the hard grace with mom was a daily exercise in giving that Fear to God and trusting that His Grace would see us through.

It didn't change the suffering, or the pain, or even the path.

The cancer didn't miraculously disappear.  The unknown gnawed at us constantly.  The questions multiplied often leaving us with more dread than hope.

Fear.  It was a persistent companion.

It brought about a unique kind of pain and heartache.  Hard to enjoy the fleeting moments when fear has you in a death grip...

Maybe that's why the rambling writings have helped.  It has been an outlet of sorts for the pain, the hurt, the suffering... and in sharing it has brought countless blessings in the shape of friends and fellow cancer sojourners... the ones who understand what we're going through... the fellow sufferers who get the heart of it when the words are clumsy...

So, I guess it could be said that you all have been a huge part of this girl finding her way out of Fear to a place of Blessed Hope and Joy again.

Maybe there is still much to be reckoned with, I am forever a mess, but one thing that I believe with all my heart is how God can use all of our suffering for His Glory.. in this instance, by helping us connect with others that we would've never met otherwise.

This is a beautiful part of our Story, yours and mine, for we never travel alone.  God's gracious gift of His Presence in and through His people.  You, my friends are Blessing sweet...

Warrioring on in Hope,

Saturday, October 27, 2018

A Bride's Story of Love...

This is one of the most beautiful of Love Stories... But it doesn't seem like it at first.

You, see... Her father died of pancreatic cancer.

Before he could walk her down the aisle.

This bride is given an incredible gift from her brother, as the men in her family step up to bridge the gap and be love in action.

So moving... so utterly heartbreaking... so absolutely uplifting... (you may need to grab a hankie before you hit play, just saying...)

First up is her grandfather, then her brothers and finally her new father-in-law.

Such tenderness and love shown to this hurting a moment her father's loss was especially keen.

May we be reminded always that the vulnerable ache of the grieving can be softened by our words, our actions, our presence.

We are His hands and feet.  We can be the shoulder for the weeping, the hug for the hurting, the ear for the wounded. 

We can be the Dance.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Waging Hope Together

If you've been hanging around here for very long, you'll know that we are Big Supporters of  The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.  There are many great organizations out there... we have just been drawn to PanCan's mission statement over and over again.

They are passionate and dedicated about fighting this monstrous cancer and hit it on all fronts...

- Research
- Clinical Initiatives
- Patient Services
- Advocacy

Their ambitious goal is to double pancreatic cancer survival rates by the year 2020... Funds will be used to:

- develop early detection tools and better treatment options
- push for more federal funding for pancreatic cancer research
- increase funding for patient services, such as the Know Your Tumor program and options to join clinical trials targeted to match patients needs.
- focus attention on pancreatic cancer and help patients and their families Wage Hope and rewrite the future of pancreatic cancer survival.

And PanCan fund raises with a ferocious urgency to push forward the research that will take us to that cure.

The cure is so close!

Each year the PanCan Research Fund awards grants to scientists in an effort to advance the field and pursue breakthroughs in pancreatic cancer treatment.

This year's Grant Recipients for the PanCan Research Fund are:

Please join us in welcoming this year’s new grantees and sharing this announcement:
2018 Skip Viragh Pancreatic Cancer Action Network Catalyst Grant
Andrew Aguirre, MD, PhD
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Functional Genetic Discovery of Novel Targets in Pancreatic Cancer
2018 Pancreatic Cancer Action Network Translational Research Grant
Darren Carpizo, MD, PhD, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Co-PI: Patrick Mehlen, PhD, Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1
Investigating Netrin-1 as a New Therapeutic Target in Pancreatic Cancer
2018 Pancreatic Cancer Action Network Catalyst Grant
Iok In Christine Chio, PhD
Columbia University Medical Center
Targeting Redox Status and mRNA translation in Pancreatic Cancer
2018 Pancreatic Cancer Action Network Translational Research Grant
Michael Curran, PhD
MD Anderson Cancer Center
Pro-Inflammatory Conversion of the PDAC Microenvironment
2018 Pancreatic Cancer Action Network Translational Research Grant
Sharon Gorski, PhD, British Columbia Cancer Agency Branch (BC Cancer)
Co-PI: Robert Young, PhD, MC, FRSC, Simon Fraser University
ATG4 Family Members as Therapeutic Targets for Pancreatic Cancer
2018 Pancreatic Cancer Action Network Translational Research Grant
Scott Lowe, PhD
Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research
Targeting p53 Mutations in Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma
2018 Skip Viragh Pancreatic Cancer Action Network Career Development Award
Karen Mann, PhD
Moffitt Cancer Center
RBFOX2-Mediated Alternative Splicing in Pancreatic Cancer Metastasis
2018 Pancreatic Cancer Action Network Translational Research Grant
George Miller, MD
Co-PI: Shohei Koide, PhD
Perlmutter Cancer Center at NYU Langone
Central Role of TIM4 in Driving Immune Tolerance in Pancreatic Carcinoma
2018 Pancreatic Cancer Action Network Translational Research Grant
Kenneth Shroyer, MD, PhD
Stony Brook University
Keratin 17 Is a Novel Actionable Target in Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma

Promoting the next level of treatments... Pushing towards the cure, a bit closer every day!

We call this SUCCESS of the best kind.  Thank you PanCan for all you do on our behalf.

And that is Good News for today,


Thursday, October 25, 2018

Never, Ever Give Up Hope...

What to do when Fear and Suffering Overwhelm us?

Read more success stories!

And there are plenty... Today we'll share links to the many uplifting stories of pancreatic cancer warriors.  No matter where you are in this fight, be encouraged.

I remember when mom was first diagnosed... there was no one that we knew who was battling pancreatic cancer, not even someone that someone knew.  As a matter of fact, mom's oncologist said that his clinic had only seen 3 cases in the past decade.

We felt so utterly alone.

I so wish we had known there were survivors of this horrific cancer.  It would have given us Hope.  Perhaps a network to reach out to... a place to find our footing.

Today there are those places.  And here are some of the links... please check them out!

The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network has an ambitious goal to double pancreatic cancer survival by 2020 and they work tirelessly towards this end.  They are found at and share stories of survivors here.

The Lustgarten Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research passionately works towards a singular outcome of changing patients to survivors.  They share their survivor stories here.

The Pancreatica Organization also shares stories of hope and success on their website.  They strongly promote education, and medical research - advocating optimal treatment options for all pancreatic cancer patients.

The Cancer Treatment Centers of America also offer a page for pancreatic cancer survivors and each story is a testament to the fight we wage every day to erradicate the word cancer from our vocabulary.

The American Cancer Society advocates for a myriad of cancers but has a beautiful post each year entitled Stories of Hope where they share survivor stories across the board... Pancreatic Cancer survivor John Cristman shares his story this year to offer hope to other patients when it's hard to find... and he knows a thing or two about hope... He is a 29-year pancreatic cancer survivor!

You do not ever need to feel alone on this journey.  So many have paved the way and are cheering you on ... As Abbie Grande's dad so wisely encourages,

"Stay strong, stay positive, and never, ever give up hope."
                      ~ Abbie Grande's dad, 2 year pancreatic cancer survivor

May you be lifted up and encouraged today,

Praying Blessings and Love, asking for Hope to be the beacon that lights the way,


Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Brave New Endings!

Yesterday we shared about the hope that cancer success stories bring...

Today we celebrate those successes in Felicity's story!

Pancreatic cancer survivor, Felicity Corbin shares her story here.

Felicity was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2003.  She survives today and pays it forward by sharing her story over and over!

She began an educational website and offers her Get Well Stay Well courses to address the causes of diseases and the ways we can strengthen our immune systems and eliminate disease in our lives.

Felicity is a passionate spokesperson for taking responsibility for our health and she leads with grace and confidence.

Her approach to treating her cancer is one of courage and perseverance.  She chose to use the best of both natural and conventional medicine.  This is called Integrative medicine, and several years ago we shared a post on her general treatment plan...  it is filled chock-full with hope and honest-to-goodness success.

If you are walking this cancer road, be encouraged.  There are survivors.  Cancer does not always win.  You need to hear that today.

Your story is still being written.  And the ending can be more amazing than you could ever imagine...  

Here's to a Brave New Ending to your Beautiful Story!

My Love, Always,

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Standing Up to the Schoolyard Bully!

Vickie Girard nails it in her book There's No Place Like Hope:

"I have often thought of cancer as the schoolyard bully... the mere thought of him can send people running.  But all it takes to diminish his power is for a couple of people to stand up to him.  That's what a cancer success story does - it stares down the bully."

Love this!

If ever there was truth!  Pancreatic cancer is so the schoolyard bully.

And I love her statement because a cancer success story can break the bonds of that fear and panic.  It gives Hope, provides a way to carry the heavy load, lays the groundwork to walk our own cancer road.

Through the ages, families use their stories to pass down history, to impart their values, to share their visions in the hopes that their legacy will live on.

Stories also inspire.  A cancer success story does exactly that.

It is a sharing of common struggles, transforming the challenges into manageable bites.  Taking the sting out of the bully and bestowing a confidence and hope that is so badly needed during the battle.

Not everyone wants to relive the horrors of their time in the trenches... it is hard to recount the experience of fighting this particular cancer bully.  But those that do, those that are willing to share their stories seem to have one thing in common... a wanting to turn their private nightmare into a collective good.

A desire to redeem the pain and suffering and turn it too good.  A singular determination to continue helping those who follow after...

Over the years, we have heard from so many of these warrior heroes.  Their stories are preserved on our Tribute page... I am forever humbled by their strength, their invincible spirit... They are strong.  They are kind.  They are devoted.  They share Hope in a place where there is no Hope.  They are what is good in this world.

This week we'll be chasing down more success stories... There are Pancreatic Cancer survivors!  And they offer so much Hope. So much Inspiration.

A powerful reminder of the truth that when we come together to share our story we are standing up to the Schoolyard Bully!

Take that Pancreatic Cancer!!

Monday, October 22, 2018

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Borrowing Trouble from Tomorrow

Fear and Suffering just go hand in hand...

As a matter of fact, pancreatic cancer is the perfect dance of fear and suffering.

For anyone who has walked this road, I can feel the nod... you've been there.  Fear and Suffering are ever present on this journey.

The sagest of advice would be to not borrow trouble from tomorrow.  Good Advice.  Just not practical when you've been handed a pancreatic cancer diagnosis.

Mom struggled with debilitating pain in her upper abdomen for the duration of her cancer battle.  At times it was under control with pain medication, but too often, we were chasing down the next comfort measure and pressing her medical team for stronger perscriptions...

Which led to the cold panic of fear as we struggled all the more against the claws of this brutal malignancy.  When a loved one is in pain and the diagnosis is terminal, an all-consuming fear can just overwhelm...

I wish I had the magic bullet to confront and resolve the painful effects of Fear and Suffering.  What I can share, are the thoughts and reflections that helped us survive the nightmare we were living...

First, and by far the most important, would be the grace by which mom handled her terminal diagnosis.  She was the rock we rallied around, and her strength multiplied many times over as we fell apart in so many ways.

Mom led the way in the Blessings of Gratitude and taught us by example.  Her choices continue to guide us to this day...

We also learned from the friends and mentors God placed along our journey...

One in particular gave space for the struggle.  Iva May.  Her devotions touched a tender spot as we walked this road.

"Suffering confronts people with the fragility of life and forces them to evaluate their theology."

That's Truth.

And then she challenged our response...

"They either respond in bitterness toward God (she called this the Pride of Entitlement)


They trust Him to accomplish His redemptive purposes (this she called the Humility of Surrender).

Shaking down the complex to simple choices and a summons to action.

It was Lisa Harper who reminded us that "Some of our greatest miracles lie on the other side of a river of tears."

Profound Permission to feel the sorrow and own the grief that began the day pancreatic cancer came home to lay siege on our family.

And Hallowed Grace to receive the miracles given... for when healing was not found in this earthly place, we were gifted the sacred space with mom to share moments of love and wholeness that have been cherished more than all the tears that fell during her grievous battle with that formidable foe.

 Finally, an encouragement from Pope Paul VI that puts a perspective of Hope in all that we do...

"Somebody should tell us, right at the start of our lives, that we are dying.  Then we might live life to the limit, every minute of every day.  Do it! I say.  Whatever you want to do, do it now!  There are only so many tomorrows."

And we don't need to be Borrowing Trouble from those Tomorrows!! 

That's Truth... and Grace... for tonight,
My Love, Always,

Friday, October 19, 2018

Honoring a Memory...

I had another post ready to go today... and then...

this arrived in our email... A reminder that pancreatic cancer is still taking too many precious lives from our midst:

Hi Jane

Today is a rough day for me... as today marks one year since my life was turned upside down.  

One year ago on October 19th, 2017... my wife, best friend, and soulmate was taken away from this world by pancreatic cancer.

And that's why I tell everyone, hold your loved ones tight and never forget to tell them how much you love them.

Life can change in an instant... we just never know.

Her passing was one of the most difficult times of my life.. but it was also illuminating as well.

As soon as The Sacred Plant community heard about her passing, support poured in from all over the globe.

I received phone calls, emails, hand-written letters and cards, books, teddy bears, Christmas ornaments, gifts and messages of love...

I simply couldn't believe how much love and true compassion came from this community...

I couldn't have made it through this without you.  And I still appreciate your help, calls, messages, and letters - they keep me going.

And, it's a reminder of why we do what we do.  We are all in this together and I thank you ALL from the bottom of my heart.

Corinne and I started on this mission when her father, Stan was sent to hospice care after being diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer and METS to the brain.

We started researching alternative therapies as a way to make his final days less painful... but instead discovered the life-saving ability of medical cannabis.

Since then, I have seen over and over how the sacred plant can and does save the lives of people all around the world.

Sadly, even with the many successes of medical cannabis... it is not a "cure-all."

Even in her final days, Corinne was a true believer of the healing powers of medical cannabis.

For the last year since her passing, I've continued the advocacy that Corinne and I started.

In fact, I am now even more committed to helping make this plant accessible to everyone with safe access laws that also allow researchers to do the must needed clinical trials.

In loving honor of my beautiful wife, Corinne and her passionate advocacy, we've created a tribute page to honor her life and all she's done for this movement and mission...

We'll be airing her expert interview she recorded for our Season 1 docuseries, The Sacred Plant: Healing Secrets Exposed.

I love, appreciate and cherish you and everyone in our community.

From the bottom of my heart,

John and Corinne Malanca

*          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *

Our hearts and prayers are continually lifted for the families and loved ones in the fight against this ruthless disease.   John's tribute to Corinne speaks to the heart of this fight... it is the never-ending Story of Love that holds us together when all around us falls apart.

We stand, together to battle for Health, and Healing and Wholeness... and until we arrive at the place of a cure, we honor the Warriors with everything we have!

In Grace, Always,

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Fear is a Liar

Today we trace another cancer journey.  You might have seen their story on the news last month...

The unthinkable for these parents. Not one precious child, but both of their children, diagnosed with a rare and deadly form of brain cancer within weeks of each other.

Brain cancer.  Pancreatic Cancer.  Breast Cancer.  CANCER.

It strikes with Fear.

Cold... Paralyzing... Debilitating... A Dread that turns your life into a living Nightmare...

The journalist interviewing the parents asked the mother what she felt when she heard the diagnosis.

It is fear.  It can swallow you whole.

As the camera rested on her tear-stained face, you could feel the pain... a visceral struggle for composure.

"It feels like someone broke my heart open and has pulled it out of my body."

Duncan and Nohea Avery have had their whole world turned upside down from this cancer diagnosis.

They know a Fear that a parent should never feel.

But we've learned that Fear follows the words Cancer as sure as the sun sets in the west.  If  you've been diagnosed or are walking hard along this journey with a loved one, then you will remember that moment when the cancer diagnosis sunk in and the fear clawed through your soul.

Zach Williams must have a window into our world...

With his latest song, he has spun truth... For Fear truly is a Liar...

Fear he is a liar.

He will take y our breath
Stop you in your steps
Fear he is a liar
He will rob your rest
Steal your happiness

Cast your fear in the fire
'Cause fear he is a liar

Let Your fire fall and cast out all my fears
Let Your fire fall Your love is all I feel.

Oh, fear he is a liar.
He will take your breath
Stop you in your steps
Fear he is a liar
He will rob your rest
Steal your happiness

Cast your fear in the fire,
'Cause fear, he is a liar.

Lessons we must learn over and over... let it sink in deep.  For Fear is a Liar.  And God's Grace the antidote.  May our trust always fall on the One whose steadfast Love can cast out every Fear.


Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Our Favorite Housekeeper... And a lesson from the Bees

Just when you think you've gotten on top of all your cancer fears, another ugly concern raises red flags...

Let me back up and perhaps make some sense.

On August 5th, word came that Charlotte Rae had passed away from complications of pancreatic cancer.  Rae was best known for her role as the sassy housekeeper, Mrs. Garrett, in the sitcoms, Diff'rent Strokes and The Facts of Life.

As celebrity news goes, her death just merited a brief passing nod... for me, however, the words pancreatic cancer sounded an alarm immediately.

It turns out that Charlotte Rae's family had a history of pancreatic cancer.  Her mother, an older sister and an uncle all had reportedly died from it.  So, due to the frequency of pancreatic cancer in her family, Charlotte was screened for it in 2009 and ultimately diagnosed with early stage cancer.

Charlotte underwent 6 months of chemotherapy and was declared cancer-free.

Unfortunately, it appears that the cancer metasticized and ended up in her bones.  She passed away at her home at the age of 92.

So, the ugly red flag?  The prickly ripple of unease I was feeling?

The family connection... Charlotte had lost 3 family members to the same cancer she herself fought.

Pancreatic Cancer.

Is it possible that having one family member with this cancer can increase our own risk?

Mom's pancreatic cancer diagnosis was a singular, nuclear event in our family.  Walking that road with her took all we had... Grieving her these past 6 years has been a monumental task in finding our new normal...

Never had I considered the implications of familial genetics in the cancer risk.

Pancreatic cancer does not play fair.  And perhaps we will never be free of the fear that it generates.

The kind of fear that keeps you up at night.  The dread that dogs your waking days.  The kind of panic with each unexpected twinge or pain.  Could it mean something?  Could it be a warning?  A sign?  Could pancreatic cancer be coming back to haunt our family in a new generation?

That kind of fear... it shuts down a heart.

The Farmer reminds me of the first time we worked with our Bees.  Our nerves nearly got the best of us...

The bees were literally boiling out of the box!  Like, Yikes!  It was all I could do not to turn and run for the hills...

But Byron, our beekeeping mentor, insisted the BeeKeeping suits were, well, Bee-Proof...

I'll let you in on a little secret... I didn't believe him (!)

Fear was on tap every single time we worked the bees... all summer long.  As the bees swarmed and buzzed us, we had to consciously choose to be calm and carry on... instead of swatting the heck out of this pesky, buzzing bees.

Guess what?!  Byron was right... the Beekeeping suits were Bee-Proof!

The only times we have gotten stung were the times we got complacent and "checked" the hives sans white gloves... {rookie mistakes}

And somewhere during those melting hot August hive checks, I realized that I was trusting the suit and ignoring the apprehensive shiver of bee sings... Fear was taking a back seat to the amazing work of those tiny little busy bees.  

Watching the honey-making process was fascinating... the buzzing of diminutive wings and the bumping of nosy little insects against our bee veils, these became a part of the sweet endeavor the honeybees added to our lives. 

The Farmer Husband was right... fear was overcome when we trusted the suits... and our lives were immeasurably bettered for it.

And I realized that the Beekeeping suit experience reminds us of the value of trust in the midst of soul-clenching fear.

The fear that pancreatic cancer might have a genetic component... the panic that pancreatic cancer may be waiting for another swipe at our family... at me...

Fear can and does swamp our failing hearts ... Trust in a Faithful God, that is the conscious choice, the value that cancels out Fear.

Faith in God's Sovereign Hand over our lives... whether or not the pancreatic cancer comes to call in our lives again.  His Hand holds us safe and leads us onward...

Karamchand Singh perhaps said it best,

"God seldom fixes our problems, but rather gives us the strength to face them."

Faith is the anecdote to Fear.

And Charlotte Rae faced her fears with confidence... and action.

She was a passionate Pancreatic Cancer champion.  She urged increased funding for pancreatic cancer research, "We must speak out loud and clear:  Federal funds must be invested to develop more effective treatments and to find a simple, affordable detection test.  This disease is so frightening because it cannot be detected early enough.  Effective treatments and early detection tools could save thousands and thousands of lives."

Said with the Faith that can move mountains, and more than enough Hope to stomp out Fear!

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The Celebrity Faces of Pancreatic Cancer

Statistics can be so deceiving...

Out of the approximately 325 million people living in America, just a relatively small number will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer... that's only 55,000 out of the 325 million or 1 in 65.  Not such bad odds, unless you are that 1 in 65.

You may be surprised by how many well-known people have struggled with the pancreatic cancer beast in the past few years...

Aretha Franklin, Singer-Songwriter, passed away from pancreatic cancer on August 16, 2018.  Her voice... the Queen of Soul gets all our RESPECT...

Bonnie Franklin, Actress, passed away from pancreatic cancer March 1, 2013.  Bonnie was best known for her role as the single mother in the series One Day at a Time.

Pat Conroy, Author, passed away on March 4, 2016 from pancreatic cancer.  He was best known for authoring The Prince of Tides and The Great Santini.

Sir John Hurt, English Actor, passed away on January 25, 2017 from pancreatic cancer.  Known for many iconic roles, from The Elephant Man to Harry Potter.

Alan Rickman, English Actor, passed away from pancreatic Cancer on January 14, 2016.  He is best known in our family for his role as Hans Gruber in the Die Hard movies, others may know him better as Professor Snape from the Harry Potter series.

Steve Jobs, cofounder of Apple, passed away on October 5, 2011 from pancreatic cancer.

Sally Ride, Astronaut, passed away from pancreatic cancer on July 23, 2012.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Supreme Court Justice, pancreatic cancer survivor, underwent surgery to remove cancerous tumor in 2009

So, so many lives are being forever changed by this horrific disease.  And so, so many are battling this cancer with a grace and grit that forever changes the way I respond to trials and suffering...

In honor of the thousands that have raised their hand to be counted in the battle, my heart just takes wing.

Alan Rickman shared a beautiful insight before he passed and it resonates deeply as we walk through this Stories of Love series,

"And it's a human need to be told stories.  The more we're governed by idiots and have no control over our destinies, the more we need to tell stories to each other about who we are, why we are, where we come from, and what might be possible."

Oh, it's so true... our stories are the light that gives hope as we journey this unpredictable road to what might be possible.

We carry the torch for those following behind...

Fighting Pancreatic Cancer is a battle that we lean in to every. single. day.

Fighting for Hope... Fighting for Healing... Fighting for a Cure...

... so that our stories resound with the Glorious Possibilities of all that might be!

Joining hands in Grace, Together Always,

Monday, October 15, 2018

Worth Fighting For

Shortly after mom's pancreatic cancer diagnosis we threw ourselves into research like madmen.

We struggled to understand this disease and were starved for hope.  But most of our internet searches just turned up complicated articles in medical journals and lengthy scientific treaties.  It was like wading through an advanced nuclear physics class with the skills of a toddler...

And yet, one huge story kept popping up during those initial weeks and months of searching. The stories of Patrick Swazye's battle with pancreatic cancer.  His was the face of familiar movies... like Dirty Dancing, Ghost and Roadhouse.  His passing 1 year before mom's diagnosis on September 14, 2009 was still fresh in the headlines.

Those stories were largely in part due to the presence of his beloved wife, Lisa Niemi.

After Patrick passed away in 2009, Lisa stepped up to the plate and became a spokeswoman for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network...

In a world turned upside down, Lisa Niemi was our touchstone.  We watched to see how she handled this cancer nightmare.  And learned much from her sweet, humble vulnerability...

In one particular interview she shares her heart in such an honest way that I found myself returning again and again to her words:

Losing a loved one is such a personal experience. Why did you decide to share your story so pub-licly?
A: If you can’t take a bad situation and do something constructive with it, you’re not honoring that experience. I tear up [during public talks]. It’s hard. Sometimes I’m very depressed afterwards. But at the same time, I have found it to be very, very valuable to me. That whole experience of being with him when [we knew] he wasn’t going to be in the world—there are things I don’t want to forget.
By all accounts, you two had an incredible marriage, especially by Hollywood standards. What was the key to that relationship?
A: Someone once said, “The way that you stay married for a long time is you don’t get divorced.” You just stay in there. Of course, the love has to be there. We never gave up on each other.
Do you have any regrets? Any conversations you wish you’d had with him?
A: We were so busy being positive; we said we were “realistic optimists.” We were going to hold space for miracles. But that also meant that there were some discussions we didn’t have, about any angst we had about what might happen. I would’ve wanted to talk with him more. But there’s no doubt that I was doing the best that I knew how.
What do you miss most about Patrick?
A: I miss everything about him. I miss his presence, I miss seeing him across the room, knowing that he’s right around the corner. I miss talking to him. I know he’s here with me in spirit, but I still miss him.
What’s the most important advice you can give to those who are caring for someone with a ter-minal illness?
A: Take care of yourself. It’s very difficult. I would’ve thrown myself under a bus if it would’ve made Patrick better. Being a caregiver is physically and emotionally exhausting. Take advantage of little breaks. I used to go to TJ Maxx. That’s a good two hours of not thinking about the illness.
What can friends do to support a caregiver?A: I had incredibly wise, wonderful friends who said, “If you need me, it doesn’t matter if it’s 3 a.m., call.” Mind you, that didn’t mean they were going to pick up. [Laughs.] Just the act of reaching out made an enormous difference to me.
You’re the spokesperson for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. What should people know about pancreatic cancer?
A: It’s merciless. Less than 6 percent survive to five years. Usually it’s in its advanced stages by the time it’s diagnosed. The average life expectancy is three to six months—which is why the tabloids could print that Patrick had died day after day. Of course, he said, “I guess they figure one day they’re going to get it right.”
The statistics have not changed in over 40 years. It’s the fourth-leading cause of cancer death in the nation, but less than 2 percent of the National Cancer Institute budget goes to pancreatic cancer research. This is a no-brainer that this needs to change.
The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network provides patient services, but we also lobby hard in Washington. We finally got what’s called the Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act, which deals with cancers with survival rate less than 40 percent. Pancreatic cancer is way at the top of that list. This bill compels the NCI to come up with a plan for addressing these diseases. I know that Patrick would be extremely proud that his presence has brought all this to pass.

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During Patrick's nearly 2-years battle with pancreatic cancer, Lisa was his strong champion, caregiver and steadfast rock.  After he passed away in 2009, she became a public face for dealing with terminal illness and a passionate advocate for pancreatic cancer awareness. Her book, Worth Fighting For, chronicles the couple’s experiences during the last years of Patrick’s life.

When celebrities and well-known people find themselves in this vicious cancer battle, they have a choice... to fight in private or take it public... we honor either choice and pray grace and strength over the fight in abundance. 

The choice Patrick and Lisa made to share their private nightmare and the Hope they found, has turned his public battle with pancreatic cancer into a national conversation, and has been a galvanizing inspiration for me... giving me the push to take my own stand in solidarity against this horrific disease.

And that is Hope for today,
       In Grace, Always,

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Warrior Song

This song... it speaks volumes!

and these words... they are part of the Battle plan...

Staring down the face of fear
Gotta keep breathing
When the negative is all you hear
Gotta keep believing

'Cause in the dark there is a light
Your truth it keeps on burning bright
Brave enough to fight the fight
And shout the battle cry

You'll never stop me I'm a warrior
When I fall down I get stronger
Faith is my shield His love is the armor

I'm a warrior
I'm a warrior
I'm a warrior

{Verse 2}
Every scar on my skin
Is a beautiful reminder
Of a moment when I didn't give in
And I walked through fire

'Cause in the dark there is a light
Your truth it keeps on burning bright
Makes me brave to fight the fight
And shout the battle cry

You'll never stop me I'm a warrior
When I fall down I get stronger
Faith is my shield His love is the armor

I will keep the hope alive
I will find the strength inside
I will keep the hope alive
I am a warrior, I will survive

I will keep the hope alive
I will find the strength inside
I will keep the hope alive
You'll never stop me I'm a warrior
When I fall down I get stronger

You'll never stop me I'm a warrior
When I fall down I get stronger
Faith is my shield
His love is the armor

I'm a warrior
I'm a warrior
Jesus, make me Your warrior

I will keep the hope alive
I will find the strength inside
I will keep the hope alive

Prayers lifted in Grace today for each Warrior
facing the fight of their lives...

Shoulder to Shoulder
Heart to Heart,
You never walk alone.

In Grace, Always,

Friday, October 12, 2018

The Weapons we Fight With!

In yesterday's post we shared about The Cost of this Pancreatic Cancer Journey...

Since writing that post, over 120 people have lost their battle with this beast.  120 Loved Ones have fought for their lives against a ferocious opponent... and lost... in the last 24 hours.

Pancreatic cancer does not play fair.

In that same time, 150 people have been devastated hearing the words "You have pancreatic cancer," and they are just beginning the fight.

The burdens are heavy for those walking this road.

The way I see it, there are 2 choices.

Give up.  Or Fight.

And I am not really Warrior material or anything... Fighting has never been my go-to.  I'm pretty much non-confrontational, you know, the peace-maker of the bunch. But when cancer came to call at our home, something rose up inside me.

For a solid year, we warriored harder than ever before.  Mom's pancreatic cancer diagnosis wrecked us... and we fought it like crazy people

We researched, we prayed, we pleaded, we sought 2nd opinions, we trudged through treatments, we tried alternative methods, we refused to give up.

This is what fighting a cancer diagnosis can look like.  And if you're here, then you already know that.  Everyone fights a little different.  We all pick up the weapons that fit best and here are some of the best we've found:

1.  Knowledge.  We've said it over and over... Knowledge is power.  Know your cancer.  Know your options.  The place to start is at one of these pancreatic cancer associations:

Pancreatic Cancer Action Network

Lustgarten Foundation


2.  Gather your medical team... persevere until you find a doctor you trust... they will be holding the line for you when the chips are down.

3.  Know your Tumor.  Ask.  And ask again.  Badger your doctor if you must. But apply to have your tumor tested with the Know Your Tumor protocol.  Seek information on your tumor to find the most effective treatments.

4.  Explore Clinical Trials.  They are our best hope for finding a cure.  It just takes one break-through to change the course of this battle.

5.  Surround yourself with your people.  Loved ones, family, friends.  Let them help, lean on each other.  I can't say it any plainer... let love carry you through when the hard overwhelms.  For some this will be easy, for others not so much.  But find your tribe.  When you do, amazing things begin to happen...

    - Run, Bike or Walk to Support Pancreatic Cancer Research

    - Attend a Purple Light Vigil to raise awareness of Pancreatic Cancer... We Honor. Inspire. Remember...

    - Write a Cancer Manifesto... trust me, you'll want to read this Love Story from Jen Hatmaker!

    - Find a need and fill it... like ChemoCar or Developing an Early Detection Test for Pancreatic Cancer or maybe even finding a tiny place on a website to Encourage and spread Hope.  When your passion and your purpose collide, lives will be lifted up and forever changed.

    - If you are the Caregiver, then Be the Gift... you are a Meal Bringer, a Hospital Sitter, a Card Sender, an Appointment Keeper, Insurance Organizer, Attentive Listener, Kleenex Provider and Love Giver.  You are Blessing in this nightmare... never doubt your ministry over the Cancer Warrior!

6.   And finally, Just Breathe... take a deep breath and get centered.  Let Hope settle over you like the answer to prayer it truly is ... God's strength as He holds us close will always, always give Grace enough for the journey.

Warriors rise up... Choose the Fight... It is past time to end the terrifying reign of Pancreatic Cancer.

We do this in Honor of and in Memory of the Valiant Heroes in our midst...