Pancreatic cancer is the fourth most common cause of cancer-related deaths within the United States and the least funded of the top-ten cancers. Early diagnosis of pancreatic cancer is critical to improving survival. Pancreatic cancer is difficult to detect in its early stages and is commonly diagnosed as a stage IV disease. It is a highly aggressive cancer with an overall five-year survival rate of 7%. This number drops to 3% for patients diagnosed with stage IV disease. The American Cancer Society estimates that in the United States during 2018, about 55,440 people will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and about 44,330 people will die of pancreatic cancer. Significant funding towards research is needed to develop sensitive early detection methods, provide patients with more efficacious treatment options, and improve quality of life after diagnosis.
In February 2014, our father, John Polio, MD, was diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer. He approached his diagnosis with strength and grace, never allowing his disease to dictate his outlook or enjoyment of life. Our dad was a rare breed, his genuine warmth, altruism, and humor permeated all aspect of his life. His career was marked with altruism and sincere compassion, earning him the respect and admiration of friends, colleagues, and patients alike. Our dad sadly lost his battle with pancreatic cancer in October 2015. We are indescribably saddened by the loss of our dad, who was also our mentor, teacher, and best friend.
Jill first learned of Project Purple through her boyfriend, Andrew Polio. While she never had the privilege of meeting Dr. Polio, the stories she heard made it clear the impact this terrible disease and the loss of his life had on the Polio family. After learning more about Project Purple and the ways the organization positively influenced the Polio family, as well as countless others during their own battles with this disease, she jumped at the opportunity to contribute. As a volunteer with the organization, she has met some of the incredible people who are fighting to prevent others from experiencing a similar loss. Now she couldn't be happier to be able to support the mission of Project Purple first hand.
The five of us now have band together and feel privileged to join the Project Purple Chicago Marathon 2018 team. We hope that our small contribution may one day benefit others in their fight against pancreatic cancer and ultimately lead to a cure. Together, we have agreed to raise $20,000 for Project Purple. Any contribution, no matter the size, is greatly appreciated. Thank you so much for all your support. It means everything to have friends and family stand behind us on our way to 26.2 miles.
Always our best,
Matt, Sarah, Andy, Jill and Katie