I remember it like it was yesterday.  Four years ago today, we lost my grandfather to pancreatic cancer.  January 10th, 2006, a few days before I returned to Susquehanna University to finish my undergraduate studies.  With the gracious support of hospice, my grandfather was able to live out the worst of his disease at home surrounding by his family.  Even though watching him die was a terrible thing to have to go through, the honor of caring for him in his final hours is an experience I will never regret.

My grandfather lost his battle quickly.  He doesn’t have a Patrick Swayze story.  He was diagnosed in late 2005, I believe around October, and we lost him a few short months later.  Pancreatic cancer is a terrible disease like that.  Each year in the US, over 42,000 people are diagnosed with the disease and over 35,000 die from it.  The survival rate, although it has improved, is extremely heartbreaking.

My grandfather was a wonderful man, and not a week goes by that I don’t think about him and cry over our loss.  I know that 4 years after the fact, that seems a bit over done, but my grandfather was a hero in my eyes.  A great husband to my grandmother for over 50 years, a great father,a terrific grandfather, and a dedicated public servant, we miss him more and more every day.  I especially miss him this year, as I prepare to take a trip down the aisle.  What I wouldn’t give to have him holding my arm, and walking me to my future husband. He set a great example for what a beautiful marriage looks like, and I intend to honor his example each day of my own marriage.

To honor the memory of my grandfather’s death and support the advancement of pancreatic cancer research, I have donated to The Lustgarten Foundation, an organization that advances the scientific and medical research related to the diagnosis, treatment, cure and prevention of pancreatic cancer.  I plan to continue to do this every year on January 10th as a tribute to a man I love and still miss each and every day.  If pancreatic cancer is a disease that is close to your heart, I encourage you to do the same.

My grandfather used to tell us before we left his house each time to return to school or whatever adventures we had, “Be good, and you’ll be happy.”  I’ve been good, Grandpa.  But I still miss you terribly.

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