In the course of 20 years, Neil Piper lost four family members to pancreatic cancer – his mother, uncle, sister, and brother. This motivated Neil and Shari Piper to organize the Walk.
In 1981, Neil lost his mother to pancreatic cancer. She was diagnosed in 1980, and 14 months later, Resa passed away. It was a devastating time for Neil and the family, but they figured, “…it’s cancer – it happens”.
Ten years later, in November 1991, Neil’s paternal uncle, Louie, succumbed to PC. This was coincidence, right? But shortly after Uncle Louie’s passing, Neil’s sister Barbara was diagnosed with PC. Four months later, she passed away. The shadowy presence of pancreatic cancer had become a haunting, dreadful spectre, constantly reminding Neil, Shari and the rest of the family that more would probably come.
But for a while, things quieted down and the Pipers got on with their lives. Then, in Aug. 2001, Neil’s brother Bruce was diagnosed with PC, and a short year later in August 2002, Bruce passed away. Over a twenty year period, PC had removed Neil’s mother, uncle, sister and brother from his life. Now everyone knew with the inevitability of circumstance that Neil, possibly the kids and perhaps other family members, were “wired” for pancreatic cancer.
The Pipers researched the literature for information on this horrible, haunting disease. They learned of Lustgarten Foundation and its dedication to fight PC and promote PC research. Neil and Shari decided to become involved in Lustgarten’s fight, and in 2004, they organized the first Lustgarten Capital District Walk for Pancreatic Cancer. They’ve been organizing the Walk ever since.
The Pipers hope that the annual Walk will make a difference by involving the community and families affected by PC, raising PC awareness, and raising funds for the Lustgarten Foundation — the largest private non-profit organization dedicated to pancreatic cancer research.
If you are reading this, you probably have a story to share yourself. We invite you to consider sharing it on the blog. If you live within driving distance of the Albany Capital District, we urge you to join us at the Annual Walk and help support Lustgarten Foundation’s efforts to develop early detection, better treatment options and the eventual cure of pancreatic cancer. Check out the Lustgarten Foundation website to see what kinds of research are being funded, and/or to donate or register for our Walk.