Friday, April 18, 2008

pancreatic cancer on Miami Ink

The September after Dad died I remember a church email about a 32 year old woman, pregnant with her first child, who had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. My heart sank. I never heard anything else about her. A year later I stumbled across her husband's blog and found that she was diagnosed around September 20, lost the pregnancy at 15 weeks in October and passed away at the end of November. Two months. Two months to go from expecting your first baby to losing your baby and your wife. I cannot imagine his pain. He has become involved in raising awareness of this death sentence of a cancer.

It is the fourth leading cause of cancer deaths, with an estimated 33,000 Americans who will die of it this year. Every 15 minutes an American is diagnosed. There is a 99% one year mortality rate. Yet pancreatic cancer receives very little funding for research.

The story of James and Katie Smith will be on Miami Ink next Thursday, April 24 at 9 pm central. I know some who will read this probably dislike tattoos or think they are a sign of being "bad" or whatever. (I have one, you know.) But many, many people get tattoos to memorialize lost loved ones, which I can understand because I have considered getting a second one somehow relating to my Dad. In this episode of Miami Ink, James will get his tattoo memorializing his wife, their struggle, his loss. He will also talk about pancreatic cancer. I'll be watching it, and in some small way will share his pain. I have no idea what it is like to lose a spouse, but my family shares with him the devastation of this cancer. The way it hides until it is too late. The way it usually very quickly steals your loved one away. And the fear that it leaves in it's wake...

5 comments:

Rebecca said...

I will definately be watching...

Gina said...

Kristin,
I've never thought about what it leaves behind. Is it genetic? Do they know what causes it, or what the risk factors or preventive steps are?
I love you.
G

Kristin said...

Whether the cancer is hereditary or not depends on the sources you are reading. Some do indicate as much as 3x the normal risk for someone who had an immediate family member with it. Another source reported that around 15% of cases are genetic.

Erika said...

I'll watch. PS. I still want to know what your tatoo is!

Teresa Sussman said...

Hi. I came across your blog while googling for James' MI spot on you tube. Katie Smith was my sister. We were both pregnant (me with my second daughter, and her with her first), due six weeks apart, when we found out about Katie's cancer. My first daughter remembers Aunt Kate, but my second daughter will never know her. To comment on the question of heredity, PC is hereditary, or at least a predisposition to it is, and it tends to go with melanoma, which Katie also had three years before the PC. Doctors have now discovered the gene that is responsible. However, insurance companies treat the cancers as a preexisting condition if you have the genetic testing. So for now, I will just go for an abdominal scan every couple of years. I thought you might be interested in hearing about/sharing news about an event that my family is sponsoring with PANCAN in September. It's a memorial butterfly release and fund raiser for PANCAN called Katie's Flight for the Fight. You can check it out here http://www.pancan.org/Volunteer/pa/phl/index.html

Anyway, thanks for taking an interest in Katie's and James' story and for sharing it with your blog friends.

Teresa