Wage Hope was the battle cry at the recent Purple Stride Pancreatic Cancer walk in Detroit. Hundreds of people who have been touched by pancreatic cancer declared their commitment to hope. Tears came to my eyes as I joined the crowd in shouting Wage Hope.
I was there with Marlene’s Marchers, a team formed to honor my cousin Marlene who died from pancreatic cancer five years ago. Her siblings, children and grandchildren come together for this event under a poster bearing Marlene’s picture. She is smiling in the picture, taken during her last visit with her family and only months before her death.
Waging hope in the face of a deadly disease might seem incongruous and even futile. Hope for what?
Some of the talk at this event was of hope for a cure. The full slogan for Purple Stride is: Pancreatic Cancer: Know it. Fight it. End it. This event raises money for research, but for many of the people standing on that football field, the research did not pay off in time for their loved ones.
Still they come, we come. Even after death, we hope. This sea of dark purple t-shirts bears witness to hope—t-shirts adorned with small placards displaying names and photos of loved ones.
We honor the memories of those who lost their battles and support those in treatment. We raise money to fund research. We continue to hope.
I work in a cancer support organization, and this week I attended a breakfast sponsored by a local cancer center. Two doctors—one a researcher and the other a clinician—talked about their roles in developing new treatments for pancreatic cancer.
The program included a testimonial from a man who has pancreatic cancer and is participating in an experimental protocol. He was diagnosed almost two years ago, and his story was inspirational. He is working full-time and seems the picture of health. He is living with pancreatic cancer rather than dying from it.
My cousin also went through experimental protocols and I admired her determination. I don’t think I would have the courage to subject myself to what she went through. But, her willingness—and her hope—advanced the cause for others, like the man at the breakfast.
Pancreatic cancer may claim lives but it cannot erase the memory of those who lived nor can it rob us of hope. I am so grateful that my cousin’s family includes me in Marlene’s Marchers and that we get together to honor Marlene’s memory, to applaud her courage and to witness to hope.
P.S. As I was working on this piece, a friend called to share good news. She had received a card from someone who had been lost to her, someone she had long been hoping to hear from. After years of no communication, a card arrived. Her hopes were fulfilled, and her situation reminded me how God can do more than we ever imagine or hope for. (Ephesians 3:20-21) Wage hope.