Duluth Woman Beating The Odds: Raising Awareness For Deadly Cancer

By KBJR News 1

August 19, 2011 Updated Aug 19, 2011 at 10:01 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) -- It's one of the most deadly forms of cancer. Just 6% of pancreatic cancer patients will survive five years.

LeAnn Wallace puts us in touch with a Duluth group looking to change that.

"This is my favorite."

Theresa Grosser points to a picture of her late husband, Tom. He lost his battle with Pancreatic cancer ten years ago.

"It was a very difficult time."

Since that time, not much progress has been made in improving the life expectancy for those diagnosed with this deadly disease.

"The national cancer institute has only given 2% of their dollars toward pancreatic cancer. That's very sad with a cancer that's as deadly as this one is."

According to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, 74% of patients will die within 12 months of being diagnosed. A mere 6% of people beat those odds.

"I was diagnosed in 1998 with a rare type of pancreatic cancer. It's a neuroendocrine tumor."

LaVonne Levar knows she's lucky to be alive.

"I don't know why, many days I'm still here...I don't begin to try to answer that question but I do feel strong because I am here, what can I do with this time to be useful."

She's using her time to help in the fight against this type of Cancer by volunteering for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. She'll join other people affected by the disease on September first at Clyde Iron Works in Duluth for "Purple Night Out."

"Our goal is to bring awareness to the Duluth community. To come out, help fight this disease because it's the fourth leading cause of cancer death," said Grosser.

"And yes, many days astounded that I'm still here but then it really empowers me and impassions me to say I want to use this time well to create hope for other people with pancreatic cancer as well," said Levar.

"Purple Night Out" will be held on Thursday, September First at Clyde Iron Works in Duluth.

There will be appetizers, door prizes and more information about how you can join in on the fight.

For more information about Pancreatic Cancer, you can visit: www.pancan.org.