Cronin February2014

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A Message from the President and CEO:

A day doesn’t go by at the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network without us hearing an inspiring story of hope. We are so fortunate to have a network of passionate – and compassionate – people who go to great lengths to help change the course of pancreatic cancer.

This month, we want to show you why we’re often stopped in our tracks by the stories of the heroic activities of young people! Yes, youth are among our most ardent supporters. And though they are often compelled to get involved because they’ve been touched by a loved one’s pancreatic cancer diagnosis or passing, they soon find that giving back is one of the best ways to find a renewed sense of purpose and community.

We know this because they tell us, and with Valentine’s Day around the corner, we wanted to share some of their stories—and our heartfelt gratitude for their work.

Our guest columnist this month is Nikki Cronin, 13, from Pittsburgh, Penn. Nikki shares why she is involved – and why giving back to the cause will always be a part of her life.

A huge thank you to Nikki and supporters of all ages! We are amazed at the devotion of these kids, and we think you will be too.

Many thanks,

Julie Fleshman, JD, MBA
President and CEO
Pancreatic Cancer Action Network

Nikki Cronin and her dad, Dennis, a pancreatic cancer survivor, at PurpleStride Pittsburgh 2013.

Why the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network Means So Much to Me

Hello! I am an eighth-grader who has been involved with the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network for almost three years now.  Four years ago, if I had heard someone talk about the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, I would have asked what it was. I didn’t know what a pancreas was!  Now, I can tell anyone in detail what this wonderful organization is and how it has affected me.
My world was forever shaken in 2010 when my hero, my dad, Dennis Cronin, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  As my family struggled to understand, my dad found the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and began to get information about the disease.

In August 2011, we attended our first Pancreatic Cancer Action Network event, PurpleStride Pittsburgh. I went as part of our family team, “Faith Heals,” and my dad’s work team, “HM Pacesetters,” also participated. The whole concept of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network was new to me, but I do remember noticing how wonderful the event was and I appreciated all that the organization did.

Although he is cancer-free today, I saw firsthand my dad’s suffering through this disease, so it meant so much to see everyone’s dedication.  I tried my best to thank everyone who was a part of the event.

The Cronin family at PurpleStride Pittsburgh 2013. From left: Kathy, Tyler, Dennis and Nikki.

Months later, we attended our local PurpleLight Vigil for Hope. The most touching part of the night was when I was able to encourage an older girl whose dad had pancreatic cancer. I told her that things would get better. I hope that I helped her.

Last summer, I attended Pancreatic Cancer Advocacy Day with my dad, mom and my older brother, Tyler. I loved everything about it! I appreciated getting to share my story with others, including our Pennsylvania senators and representative, and I was especially grateful to hear the inspiring stories of survivors. Advocacy Day felt extremely rewarding because we were doing something concrete and momentous. I left happy because it was clear we were changing something for the better.

I give my time to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network because I love being able to meet people and be there for them – it’s the best feeling in the world! My up-close and personal experience with pancreatic cancer has made me a better person, as helping others always does.  

I encourage other kids to get involved, too. It will give you a feeling like no other. Besides, the survival rate for pancreatic cancer is a shockingly low six percent, and we all need to do our part to raise it. You never know if this might affect you, a family member or a friend. 

Until the world is free of pancreatic cancer, I’ll keep doing my part.

Nikki Cronin