08-0751_04AdvocacyDay-SheriWhitko.jpg
 
 

"All things are difficult before they are easy."

- Thomas Fuller, English Historian

 

laurie tells her story

At the age of 55 and in perfect health, I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, one of the deadliest and most aggressive forms. It’s a disease that has recently surpassed breast cancer to become the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States.

IMG_3227.JPG

I fought hard. After over three years of chemotherapy, multiple surgeries (including the Whipple, considered the most complicated abdominal surgery in existence), numerous complications, complex therapies, insurmountable side effects, and too many emergency room visits to count...I was told I had three to six months to live. I just didn’t feel that this was an option.

 Laurie MacCaskill with friend Tina Staley

Laurie MacCaskill with friend Tina Staley

Since my original diagnosis in 2006, I am no longer in treatment, feeling great and living a completely normal life. I can honestly say that my cancer experience was a gift, though not a gift I’d want to give to any of you. I’ve created lifelong partnerships and friends throughout the past decade. 

Soon after the diagnosis, I became involved with a national advocacy organization, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. In 2009, I became of a member of the Board of Directors and also served as the Chair of the Board for three years.

 Afarin Davari, Laurie MacCaskill, Pamela Marquardt

Afarin Davari, Laurie MacCaskill, Pamela Marquardt

My cancer experience gave me a new purpose in life, and that is to motivate others and give them hope through their journeys. I am lucky enough to travel the country delivering speeches and interact with volunteers, patients, researchers, pharmaceutical professionals and experts in the medical community. I regularly fundraise and lobby Congress for increased research funding.

I challenge you to be your own advocate through a difficult experience, whatever that may be. Face your challenge with hope, courage and grit, and know that you have the tools to thrive.