My name is Claire Zampine Muollo, a single parent diagnosed with pancreatic cancer on July 4, 2009. On July 29, 2009 I underwent an 11-hour Whipple operation to remove my tumor and part of my pancreas and to reconstruct the pancreatic duct. I was hospitalized for twenty-one days and at home for two months. I have undergone extensive chemotherapy and radiation over the past two and a half years and continue to receive chemotherapy at a Cancer Institute in Boston.
Pancreatic cancer has had its effects on me and my two sons, Robert, age 27 and David, age 20. When I became ill, I weighed 135 pounds and decreased to 99 pounds. I currently weigh 104 pounds and am eating and feeling well. My pancreatic cancer metastasized to my lungs in October 2010. This has been difficult for David, as he enlisted in the Marines and was away for 6 months. And, for Bob who stayed with me for a year and then relocated closer to his job. Even though I have not worked since July 2, 2009, I still keep busy now, hanging my clothes on the line outside, driving my car, attending meetings and talking and visiting others who are pancreatic cancer patients. After the operation and when I could get around better, I continued with chemotherapy as well as alternative therapies such as massage, acupuncture and attended a healing class. I am positive that my faith, sense of humor, perseverance and the above have all contributed to my longevity. I thank God for every morning and day and spend as much time doing the important things. I know my life journey has its obstacles, but we can overcome them by having a positive attitude and the support of family and friends. Some days are tough, teary and weary.
During my fight against pancreatic cancer, I realized the passion the pancreatic research doctors at my hospital have to better detect the disease in its early stages, to allow those inflicted with this disease to have a better quality of life, and ultimately, to find a cure. Sitting around my dining room table, I told my two sons that I'd like to do something for this cancer. They urged me not to just talk about it, but to do it! So, in October 2010 I made this my crusade and organized in my area, the first PROMISES FOR PURPLE PANCREATIC CANCER AWARENESS WALK. I formed a committee of two other Marine moms, my sons, my neighbor, my niece and sisters. To promote my cause, I mailed informational letters and personally visited local businesses. I was interviewed at a local TV station and was featured in local newspapers. The response was overwhelming. Naturally, everything was Purple! I continued my marketing efforts by contacting your agency and received small purple ribbons to distribute to our participants and informative brochures on the disease. We provided tables for the following: giveaways, research information, hot chocolate, water, nutrition bars, cookies from a local bakery, purple sun glasses and many other items for the participants. Many items were donated. My oncologist who is part of the pancreatic cancer research team attended with his family along with over 200 other participants.
It was an emotional day for me, Bob, David and extended family. Everyone came wearing purple. With all my visits for chemotherapy and massage at the cancer institute, they know me as the "Purple Lady" and have since persuaded the gift shops at two locations to highlight areas of their shops each November with purple items for pancreatic cancer. I sure would like to see local and national sports players, players wear purple each November! Wouldn't you? I am working on it! I thank my two sons, other family members, friends, co-workers, volunteers and vendors for their love, prayers and support during my exhausted fight against pancreatic cancer.
My best to your agency and all pancreatic cancer patients. Keep the purple flowing!