On a Tuesday in September of 2015, my grandfather, M.A. Wallace, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. It happened so fast. I thought, "He's really healthy. He'll make it through this. He has to make it through this, because I'm not ready for him to go."
The next morning had torrential downpours in store. I got up that morning, just like every morning, and went to the gym. The workout was the CrossFit "Hero" Workout, Glen.
- 135/95 pound Clean and jerk, 30 reps
- Run 1 mile
- 15 foot Rope climb, 10 ascents
- Run 1 mile
- 100 Burpees
The coach turned up the music and counted "3, 2, 1, go." My muscles fatigued quickly. The rain fell in sheets and my clothes were soaked and heavy, but I kept going. Once we'd finished running, I came inside from the rain to face one hundred burpees. I took off my wet shoes and told myself that if Papaw could make it through pancreatic cancer, I could make it through "Glen," and I did, but Papaw died three weeks later.
For those of you who did not know Papaw, he found joy in the simplest things – whether that be tickling a grandkid, sneaking up on and intentionally startling someone, or the art of selecting and enjoying a good watermelon on a hot day. Many said that he always had a smile on his face and a whistle on his lips. Papaw was loved and respected by every person whose life he touched.
My family and I watched him wither away into nothing, in what felt like a matter of moments. I asked myself how this could happen, and then I started reading.
Pancreatic cancer is the 3rd leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States, and is one of the few cancers for which survival has not improved substantially over nearly 40 years. Its symptoms are vague and there are no detection tools to diagnose the disease in its early stages when surgical removal of the tumor is still possible. Thus, treatment options for pancreatic cancer are limited. Perhaps most breathtaking is the fact that, despite being one of the deadliest forms of cancer, pancreatic cancer prevention and treatment research has been, and continues to be, woefully underfunded.
Recognizing the tremendous strength and spirit that Papaw has given me, I'm completing the Tough Mudder, a 10-12 mile obstacle race designed by the British Special Forces, in his memory.
I am fundraising for this cause through Project Purple, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with a mission of raising awareness and funds towards a cure for pancreatic cancer. Thank you for your interest in my campaign. If you would like to contribute to this cause, please click the "Donate" button to the right of this page.