November 3 is a day like any other for most of you, yet a day I wish I could forget. As the calendar struck 11/3/2019, I commemorated the 17th year of my mother’s passing. Unlike what books, movies and wise friends tell you – it doesn’t actually get any easier.
Losing a parent is life-altering. The sorrow and loss cracks the very foundation of who you are at your core, and although you may learn to cope and function with the grief, your foundation never actually gets repaired.
There isn’t a day that passes that I don’t wish my mother was still alive. My kids would have adored her the same way that I did growing up. Maybe a lot of kids say this about their parents, but my mother was truly special. She was kind, caring and the most positive woman you’d ever meet, and to me she was everything.
I still remember the last time that my mom and dad were in the US together before they headed back to Greece. Like a video stuck in a loop, I replay this memory often, because they helped me open the first Medix office space.
After cleaning and setting up the office, on our way out for the evening, my mom cradled my face in her hands, and said to me in Greek, “Work hard and everything is going to go well; you have my blessings.”
Shortly thereafter, my mother passed away from pancreatic cancer – a mere 90 days after her initial diagnosis. As a new father and business owner, it shocked my entire world. How did something so severe get diagnosed so late? Where were the warning signs?
This disease was one I didn’t know a lot about at the time, and it wasn’t really until hearing Randy Pausch’s story and reading “The Last Lecture” that I, and millions of Americans, learned what a silent killer pancreatic cancer really is.
Some things to know about pancreatic cancer:
- More than 155 people are diagnosed each day.
- Its symptoms are so subtle that most people easily ignore them. They’re vague and nonspecific.
- It’s extremely hard to diagnose it in its early, treatable stages. Meaning, when a lot of people are diagnosed, it’s very advanced, making it a tough fight or even too late.
Although November 3 will never get any easier, I’m grateful to be surrounded by family and friends who share my passion for pancreatic cancer awareness, and I’m hopeful for advancements in science and medicine that could lead to a cure. As we celebrate Pancreatic Cancer Awareness month this November, let’s all commit to talking, sharing, educating, advocating, and ultimately ensuring this silent killer never takes another life.