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Donor Story: Maija Eerkes

Newly retired in December 2005, I was looking forward to spending time with my husband Al and our friends, and maybe taking a year to figure out what I wanted to do with the next chapter; what causes to get behind and put my energy toward. Seven months into my retirement I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and just like that, the cause I had been mulling over was suddenly dropped squarely in my lap.
I learned about the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network through my oncologist. Right away, I was very impressed – I felt like the people behind the organization really cared about me. Every step of the way on my journey, they were there. I wanted to find a way to reciprocate. 
My husband and I decided to give a legacy gift. We are supporters now – I volunteer much of my free time to the cause – but an estate gift allows us to help advance the work of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network when we’re no longer here. 
For a lot of people, talking about that day – and creating a will – is very daunting. But I had to grapple with my own mortality at the time of my diagnosis, so talking about what will happen after I pass is not the least bit scary to me. It helps if you can look at planned giving as a practical thing to do. It really does give you a sense of calm, knowing that your estate will be handled in a way that is meaningful and that it will do some good in the world. Al and I worked with our estate attorney, and the process of setting aside a legacy gift for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network was really quite easy. 
The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network is a great place to invest your dollars. The organization has made significant strides in advocacy, funding research and in reaching patients through educational materials and with information about clinical trials. The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network really hits on all cylinders.
My tumor was unresectable, so I hadn’t qualified for surgery, but with several rounds of intense treatment, by 2007 it was not detectable. 
Today I’m a seven-year survivor, and I like to think I’m a medical miracle. Given the statistics associated with this disease, I realize how incredibly fortunate I am. I feel it’s my mission in life to act for people who are no longer here, so I want the choices I make to be meaningful. Thanks to the option of legacy giving, I’m grateful I can leverage my money in a way that will benefit a cause I strongly believe in. 
One day it could mean that the work of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network is no longer needed. Can you imagine?

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