How My Father s Death From Pancreatic Cancer Changed My Career Path

 
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"I remember my dad tinkering with his wrench to remove the training wheels from my bicycle.

How My Father   s Death From Pancreatic Cancer Changed My Career Path

“You’re ready,” he reassured me.

As he guided me down our Pleasanton, California, street, pushing my two-wheeler from the back of the seat, I started pedaling faster, knowing my dad was behind me.

But he had let go. I was riding on my own.

I remember coming to a stop at the end of the street and looking back. There he was, standing in the distance, proudly clapping and cheering on his little girl. He made me feel confident and safe.

It’s one of the first moments I remember with my dad. I was four, and he was my hero.

Dad traveled a lot for work, so every moment I had with him was precious. We joined the local Y-Indian Princesses program and participated in father-daughter campouts and dinner dances. As my passion for dance grew in high school, he was right there at all of my competitions and recitals, even lugging my little brother along so he’d have company.

But all too soon, my time with my dad was over. I was 24, in the middle of a dual JD-MBA degree program, when I got the news that he was dying from pancreatic cancer. I felt anything but confident or safe. With his sickness and death at age 52, my world shattered.

- Picking Up the Pieces:
But as anyone who has lost a loved one knows, life forces you to pick up the pieces and to grow and change in ways you never imagined possible.

My “picking up the pieces” started with a phone call to a prominent doctor at one of the few medical centers in the United States conducting pancreatic cancer research at the time. I wanted answers. I wanted to know why more wasn’t being done — why my dad and thousands of other people with pancreatic cancer were sent home to die. I wanted to change this thing that killed my dad.

To the doctor’s credit, he called me back.

Our conversation changed the course of my life and career. He connected me with the founders of a new organization, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.

The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network is a nonprofit organization that works to raise awareness of pancreatic cancer, support people who have it and their caregivers, and raise money — $200 million by 2020! — to fund research. The network’s goal is to develop better detection tools and treatment options for pancreatic cancer.

Through several serendipitous moments, I became the organization’s first full-time staff person, then its first executive director, and later its president and CEO. Working for this organization has been my personal way of picking up the pieces.

- Making Sure People Get What They Need:
I never thought I would be in the position I am in today.

As a little girl, I had a lemonade stand. When I was a bit older, I taught preschool and pre-kindergarten classes for the neighborhood children and enjoyed babysitting. During summer breaks from school, my job at Nordstrom taught me the invaluable importance of customer service.

Somehow in my work, I always wanted to make sure people got what they needed and to do what was right.

Today, as head of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, I come to work each day to honor my dad — and to right his wrong. My anger over his too-early death has transpired into a steadfast mission of hope.

And nothing makes me prouder than knowing that people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer today can find real options through Patient Central. The program arms them and their families with resources, information, and, most important, hope for their journey ahead — something we didn’t have when my dad was diagnosed.

Julie Fleshman, president and CEO of Pancreatic Cancer Action NetworkWe at “PanCan” have a long way to go to finish this journey, but we are committed to changing the course of this disease. If someone says we can’t do it, I say, I’m pretty sure we can.

Together, we wage hope.

Julie Fleshman is president and CEO of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network".

What if you share this touching history?? It is wonderful!!

Fuente: www.everydayhealth.com
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