June 19, 2017 09:53AM
By John Pettit Special to the Record-Journal
MERIDEN — Hubbard Park was a sea of purple Saturday morning, as over 1,000 people participated in the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network’s Connecticut PurpleStride 5K walk and run.
“It’s a very small community here in Connecticut,” said Bob Nims, a volunteer for the network’s Connecticut chapter. “We are waging hope against pancreatic cancer. Every year, over 40,000 people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. There are many members of our community who are part of that fight.”
A Middletown resident, Nims lost his father to the disease over six years ago.
“Pancreatic cancer is the second leading cancer in this country right now in terms of death,” he said. “Like most people, I tried to take the sorrow and pain and turn it into a positive outlet to make a difference.”
The event’s most poignant moment Saturday occurred when pancreatic cancer survivors, in their white “Survivor” T-shirts, were introduced on the main stage.
Marybeth Hoffman of Windsor was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer in May, 2014. She’s undergone numerous surgeries and 93 rounds of chemotherapy.
“It was like being at your own funeral when I was diagnosed,” she said. “This is a disease that virtually everyone diagnosed with it dies from. I want to show people that you can live. I continue to live my life. In some ways there have been a lot of blessings through cancer. I’ve had forewarning. I’ve had some time to plan. I’ve got to see the love that people have for me. I just encourage people not to give up. When I was first diagnosed, my doctor said you just have to hang in there and stay alive until the Calvary comes. Just two or three weeks ago, the first pancreatic cancer immunotherapy drug got FDA approval. The Calvary is coming. I hope to see even more white shirts in the future.”
Louise Pisarski, of South Glastonbury was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last August. Her team, Louise’s Purple Pals, raised $8,450 on Saturday.
Were you SPOTTED? At the Purple Stride 5K?
“I am here today because I wanted to meet other pancreatic cancer survivors and also to give back just a little for all I have received,” she told the crowd. “I’m so blessed that the cancer was caught early. I know for so many that is not the case. Together let us wage hope and double the pancreatic cancer survival rate by 2020.”
Saturday’s family-friendly walk featured a disc jockey, Zumba, children’s activities, refreshments and plenty of inspiration. The fifth-year race is not a part of the city’s road race series at Hubbard Park, but runners and walkers filled the park to help PCAN raise money for research, patient support, community outreach and advocacy care for a cure.
The goal was to raise $155,000.
“We feel like we’re building some great momentum,” said Kathryn Evans, an event planner for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.