Diane and Bill Galloway shared 41 years of marriage together, inseparable best friends even through their final battle. "My husband Bill Galloway was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2009. My only knowing of pancreatic cancer that it was a death sentence if you were diagnosed with it."
Seventeen months later, July 9, 2010, Bill passed from the disease. "We had time to say goodbye. So many people have no chance to say goodbye. We were really blessed."
According to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, 74% diagnosed with pancreatic cancer die within the first year, and only 6% of patients live more than 5 years past diagnosis.
Those statistics prompted Diane to attend the pancreatic cancer advocacy day in Washington D.C. Over 650 people, including Lisa Swayze, wife of the late Patrick Swayze who died of the disease. "And as far as I'm concerned, I'm going to kick pancreatic cancers butt."
They tried to convince lawmakers to allocate more money for research. Out of the over $5 billion budget the national cancer institute got in 2010, just over $97 million went to pancreatic cancer research. "It's just so sad. It's unacceptable that there is not a plan in place for our people out there. we have a lot of people in Kern County," adds Galloway.
"Roughly about 3-4 percent of our cancer patients are pancreatic cancer patients," says Julie Leach with Comprehensive Blood and Cancer Center.
She says while there have been cancer research advancements, detecting pancreatic cancer is still hard. "Where it might just be a CT scan now, it might be something simple that someone can do for screening in the next few years that would locate a pancreatic cancer when it's very early or better yet, find a genetic marker that shows you are more inclined to have it."
That's why Diane will continue fighting, wearing her purple, pushing for more pancreatic cancer research-and honoring her late husband. "The patients that are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer can at last have other options and at last they can have some hope."