Bay Ridge resident walks to raise awareness and fund research

Where there’s life there’s hope, said Bay Ridge resident,Angela Vaccaro, who lost her mother to pancreatic cancer a littleover six years ago.

Pancreatic cancer, one of the most lethal forms of the disease, hasa survival rate of six percent. This kind of cancer is oftendetected during its late stages because no early tests areavailable; its late detection makes it that much harder tocure.

She became symptomatic as soon as she was diagnosed, said Vaccaroof her mother, Barbara whose symptoms included fatigue, abdominalpain, unexplained weight loss and inflammation of thepancreas.

She was, however, one of the 20 percent of pancreatic cancerpatients eligible for the Whipple procedure, in which thegallbladder, common bile duct, part of the duodenum and the head ofthe pancreas are removed in an attempt to cure the disease.

It was her strength that carried her through, Vaccaro said of hermother who did well for a while after the surgery.

Last Sunday — to mark her mother’s journey, which lasted fouryears, and to raise money for scientific and medical research intothe disease – Vaccaro put her best foot forward and participated inthe Pancreatic Cancer Research Walk organized by the LustgartenFoundation, an organization whose goal is improving diagnosis andtreatment of pancreatic cancer, as well as ultimately finding acure for it.

All of these events really help raise the awareness of thisdisease, said Vaccaro. We all have some selfish reasons. Our risktriples [when someone in the family is diagnosed], so it makes itthat much more important to get an early diagnosis.

For Vaccaro, walking is also a way for her to honor her mother’slife and battle with pancreatic cancer. She always wanted life tobe celebrated, not mourned, Vaccaro said.

The foundation, which was founded in 1998, donates 100 percent ofits proceeds to the cause. To date, it is estimated that thefoundation has raised more than $38 million to supportresearch.

Join the fight, we need to convey hope by investing money inresearch — that’s the way to find a cure, said Kerri Kaplan, theexecutive director of the Lustgarten Foundation,.

Last weekend’s walk was the first one held in New York City, saidKaplan, who said that the group had held the walk in Long Islandfor about 11 years. As of March 31, a total of $264, 694 had beenraised this year – that’s $264, 694 that will go directly toresearch.

For more information on pancreatic cancer, to make donations to theLustgarten Foundation, or to register for next year’s walk,

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