Kristen Fidler and her husband, Ryan, at PanCAN PurpleStride Maryland

Editor’s Note: We are saddened at the passing of Ryan Fidler on June 22, 2023. PanCAN sends deepest sympathies and heartfelt condolences to his friends and family.

Kristen Fidler spoke at PanCAN PurpleStride Maryland on behalf of Ryan’s Warriors – a team that came together to support her husband, Ryan, who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in October of 2022 at the age of 43. With their young son, Reid, by their side, they celebrated their seventh wedding anniversary with the “sea of purple” that day. In her remarks to the crowd, Kristen celebrated the warrior spirit of Ryan and all of the PanCAN PurpleStride participants united to change the future of pancreatic cancer. We share Kristen’s inspiring words as the last in our series honoring cancer survivors everywhere.

Thank you for the opportunity to share the story of Ryan’s Warriors with you.

Six months, one week and one day ago, October 21, 2022, my husband, Ryan, received a call from his doctor and heard just a few words that were truly incomprehensible at the time. A diagnosis each of you are all too familiar with.

Everything went dark in that moment. It was a continuous slow-motion stream of wakeless hours and doomscrolling, which only confirmed our worst possible thoughts. That is, until after about 48 hours of free falling, just spiraling and feeling helpless I stumbled upon a blaze of purple – the PanCAN website. It was full of hope, opportunities to connect, support and knowledge that could move us in a positive direction.

Clicking from page to page I felt the space around me start to brighten. Then, there it was – with great fanfare, the announcement that the annual PurpleStride fundraiser would be held in person in 2023 – on April 29. This – exactly this, is what I needed to see. It felt like it was meant just for me. My heart started beating loudly – I could hear it.

And while that date was six whole months away, that date, today, is our seventh wedding anniversary, and it was right there and then in that moment, that I vowed “we” – he – would be here.

We would march forward to this goal, reconnecting and collecting friends and family each step of the way. And our path, made up of “one day at a time,” our path to today, would be filled with positivity, with strength, community and a spirit of celebrating life -- showing all of us, showing me, showing Ryan, showing Reid what it looks like not just to survive but to thrive.

Kristen and Ryan’s son, Reid

And so, it was -- at 43 years young, healthy, fit, active – father to our young son– six months, one week and one day ago, Ryan set out on the fight of his life. And today, I get to look you in the eyes and say Happy Anniversary babe, I love you.

WE ARE HERE TODAY – and it truly is because of all of you – each and every single one of you. Thank you, Ryan’s Warriors, those of you that are here, those that are near and those that are joining us from afar – thank you for your Warrior Love.

PanCAN, thank you for your hope and your fierce determination to dramatically change the future of pancreatic cancer.

To all the Purple Stride Maryland teams here with us today – together you are making a difference, every day, even on the days that are the hardest. Because I recognize that today represents anniversaries for others as well – Ian, my heart is with you today as we walk together in honor of your wife Beth. Carol, joining us from Oregon, we share a wedding anniversary – and my heart is with you today as you remember walking down the aisle 45 years ago with your beloved husband. To our friend, Rachel, thinking about her beautiful mother, and Jen thinking about her father, today, and every day.

We are all truly in this fight together. And that is what will make all the difference. Looking out at this ABSOLUTELY MAGNIFICENT SEA OF PURPLE – it is like a wave of purple roaring in the face of pancreatic cancer, saying WE ARE STRONGER – WE WILL NEVER GIVE UP. It reminds me of a phrase written by the poet Cleo Wade, which I will close by sharing:

She writes: “We don’t change the world when we whisper. We change the world when we roar.”

Thank you all so much!

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