There is a very ambitious goal by the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network to double the number of survivors by the year 2020.
Pancreatic cancer kills 94 percent of those diagnosed within five years, but there is a Carlyss man with a strong will to live in the lucky six percent.
It is another country day for 49-year-old Kenneth Marks, tending to the rabbits and quails. Marks stays busy, something he never knew three years ago would turn into a source of stability and strength. "Basically all my life, I've never really been sick," he said.
It was in the spring of 2010 that Marks' daughter noticed that her dad was jaundiced. "She says, 'Dad, you're yellow,' and I'm thinking oh God, what's wrong,?" he said.
Marks did not feel sick, but went to the doctor to have the yellowing checked out. The discovery was not good. "He said the bad news is you have a growth on your pancreas and it has to come out," said Marks.
That growth turned out to be cancerous and a whipple procedure, a surgery well known in the pancreatic cancer community, was performed to remove the head of the pancreas, a portion of the bile duct, the gallbladder and the duodenum. Then, aggressive chemo and radiation were prescribed. "I'd feel bad for a couple of days, then after that I was good to go," said Marks.
Marks is a tough fighter and says he made the decision to avoid reading the grim statistics associated with the aggressive cancer that does not allow nine in ten people to live five years past their diagnosis. "I really don't want to know what all these other people went through," he said, "good, bad, whatever. I don't want to be disappointed either way."
Marks fills his days with the things he loves - family and farm life - keeping on, even when the going has been tough. "I think it's a will to live," said Marks, "I've got a wife, I've got a daughter and responsibilities."
When I asked Marks what it is helping him beat the odds, his answer was simple. "I didn't give up and I'm not gonna give up," he said.
Marks takes an enzyme every time he eats to help his body break down food. On April 15, 2013, he will hit the three year mark for being cancer-free.
While pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cancer killer, it receives very little research funding. You can help raise money Saturday, December 8th at Prien Lake Park by joining in the 8th annual PurpleStride walk event at 7:00 a.m. Click here for more information.