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Our story…


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Join us in the fight against Pancreatic Cancer!

Welcome to our fundraising page for this year's Kicking PancreAS™ 5K, a cause that's incredibly close to our hearts. We're rallying in support of Craig's Cause, a remarkable Canadian charity dedicated to providing essential support to individuals and their families touched by Pancreatic Cancer - and for our mother, Heather, who battled Pancreatic Cancer courageously.

Craig’s Cause funds programs like Peers with Pancreatic Cancer, a weekly support group via Zoom that encourages patients to advocate for themselves and to share experiences with peers facing the same challenge, and a wealth of other investments in patient support, healthcare education and research collaborations.


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The Cutler Family: From the left: Heather, Christopher, Bethany and Yuki.


About Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic Cancer is one of the world’s most lethal cancers, but also incredibly underfundedIn Canada, the five-year survival rate lags behind the United States, with only 10% of patients surviving five years after diagnosis.1 There are no approved methods for early screenings, and the disease produces limited symptoms until unfortunately it has already metastasized. That’s where advocacy organizations like Craig’s Cause can make a difference. 

Being a cancer patient already comes with its own set of physical and mental challenges, from treatment side-effects to medicine adherence. Patients shouldn’t have to spend their days researching options feeling disregarded by the healthcare system. 

Germline (Genetic) testing and Comprehensive Genomic Sequencing (Somatic) testing of tumors have emerged as ways of informing personalized treatment options and are one of the many advances that may improve outcomes for Canadians. They also help to personalize clinical trial matches based on your tumor mutations. We were advised the tests would be expensive and unlikely to yield actionable results. Turns out, a high TMB would have made Keytruda a treatment option earlier on. We went with a Canadian company that was doing testing for Pancreatic Cancer patients for free; they later would go bankrupt and there were discrepancies between testing in Canada and reputable testing in the United States. 

We learned a lot of lessons along the way and how to advocate for our Mother, and our family. But advocating for treatment or testing options that you aren’t aware exist or aren’t mentioned by your Oncologist can be challenging. Indeed, we learned some lessons too late to act on. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Having an organization dedicated to ensuring that Canadians demand more from their healthcare providers than just a label and a one-size-fits-all approach will ensure everyone has access to updated treatment options and guidelines; and advocate for the best healthcare outcomes for their disease. Just this year, Craigs Cause Introduced the world's first Pancreatic Enzyme Replacement Therapy (PERT) calculator to help patients understand how Pancreatic Enzymes can be dosed more effectively after several studies highlighted marked improvements in overall survival.2


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Last year we walked in support of Heather as she watched on FaceTime from the hospital, and told us how incredibly moved she was by the show of support from family and friends. 

This year, we walk to honour Heather’s memory and our resolve to make an impact is only stronger. We’ve already surpassed last year's fundraising goal and with your help, we believe it's possible.

Every step we walk, every dollar we raise, brings us closer to a future where Pancreatic Cancer can be defeated. Your support means the world to us and to all the families navigating this journey and is a true tribute to the person who she was.


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Heather’s graduation photograph, General Hospital School of Nursing (1981)


About Heather

Heather graduated from the General Hospital School of Nursing in 1981; she dedicated 20 years to Neurosurgery and another 15 years to Obstetrics. As my nurse through and through, she always prioritized the care and well-being of others.

Summers were well-spent many times at Terra Nova National Park with family and friends. As my sister noted, there was no puzzle she couldn’t take on, and she could always be found working on her latest home improvement idea or tending her garden.

At her very core, she was a woman driven by the value of family- her kids, husband, parents or anyone else who had a seat at family gatherings over the holidays. Even in the final few weeks, she was insistent on making any decisions as a family.

As a medical professional noticed a distinct back pain for several months, she expressed to her husband, Barry, before going back to visit her family doctor that whatever the news would be, it would be something serious. That day, she was told there were concerning spots on her Pancreas and liver and that a biopsy would follow, which would confirm Stage IV Pancreatic Cancer.

Before that day, most of us hadn’t even heard of Pancreatic Cancer before, and the prognosis would shake us to the core. Heather made it clear, however, that she would fight this cancer as long as she could for her family and that she wasn’t ready to go anywhere just yet. 

As bi-weekly chemo treatments and blood tests became the new routine for Heather, her daughter, Bethany and son, Christopher, began researching Pancreatic Cancer and possible treatment options, support organizations and clinical trials. Advocacy groups like Craig’s Cause stressed the importance of access to somatic and genetic testing, the vital role of Pancreatic Enzymes, second opinions and exploration of clinical trials. Every Monday after Jeopardy, Heather and family would join Peers with Pancreatic Cancer to hear how other patients were doing and share treatment experiences.

Sadly, the availability of clinical trials in Canada that target tumour biomarkers lags far behind offerings in the United States. Princess Margaret gave us a second opinion that current Canada-based trials would not benefit us. Shortly after, we focused on treatment options offered in the United States. 

Heather travelled to Maryland, Baltimore in 2023 to seek a second opinion and see if there was anything more to offer beyond the two standard-of-care treatments approved in Canada. The first appointment was quite optimistic- there was a third-line treatment recently approved, and as a fall-back there was a clinical trial opening up in the summer which targeted her KRAS G12D mutation.

Unfortunately, as many families who have been touched by Cancer are familiar with- the disease can be unpredictable. Things were so good for so long. There was always hope. Even at the last chemo appointment where we were told that stopping chemo would be the right choice as the second-line chemo was no longer effective. Despite requesting the approval of a third chemo in Canada almost two months prior, when we raised it again at her last appointment we were told that her oncologist would need time to look into it. 

By that time, ascites had already developed in the abdomen and it would be a steady decline over the next couple weeks. But there was still hope. Until the last moments we held onto hope.

Given that so many with Pancreatic Cancer don’t get three months, and that even less get a pass away peacefully- we were so grateful that she got her wish from the hospital to come back home. The amazing staff at 5NB, where she had worked all those years before, took care of their own and we welcomed her back from hospital in May.

She would have been so proud of being able to contribute in any way possible to improving the outcomes for future patients living with Pancreatic Cancer.

So let's lace up, rally our spirits, and set out to make this year's event a milestone in the fight against Pancreatic Cancer. Your generosity fuels our hope and drives forward the invaluable work of Craig's Cause. Let's turn the tide against Pancreatic Cancer, one step at a time.


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Heather and daughter, Bethany in Baltimore for a second opinion at Johns Hopkins.


How to support Team Heather

There are two ways to support Team Heather! Whichever you choose, know that your donation will be going towards a wealth of supports that make a difference for families affected by Pancreatic Cancer.



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Walk with Team Heather

Choose “Join Team” to walk together as part of Team Heather on June 1st. In addition to supporting a great cause, every walker will receive a runners bib, a finishing medal and swag.


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Make a one-time donation

If you’d rather cheer us on, make a one-time donation to the team or choose a specific member of Team Heather to donate to. All proceeds go directly to Craig’s Cause.




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Kicking PancreAS™ 5K with Team Heather

 Royal St. John's Regatta Boathouse

Clancey Drive, St. John's, NL, Canada

June 1st, 2024 6:30PM

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By participating in Kicking PancreAS™️ 5K, you can make a difference in the lives of every Canadian diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer, along with their loved ones. Your donations directly support our four pillars: Awareness, Education, Support, and Research

Through fundraising, you actively contribute to the programs and resources needed to enhance the quality of life for patients today and in the future. Currently, only 1 in 10 Canadians will survive 5 years from diagnosis. Join the fight today and help us change the outcome of this devastating disease.

   


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References

1. Canadian Cancer Statistics Advisory Committee. Canadian Cancer Statistics 2021. Canadian Cancer Society; 2021.

2. V. P., and A. Najjar. “Effects of Pancreatic Enzyme Replacement Therapy (PERT) on Overall Survival (OS) in Patients (Pts) with Advanced Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma (APDAC) and Evidence of Pancreatic Enzyme Insufficiency (PEI): A Single Institution, Retrospective, Cohort Study.” Journal of Clinical Oncology, vol. 41, no. 16, 2023, https://doi.org/10.1200/JCO.2023.41.16_suppl.e16254.

Help us raise money for Craigs Cause Pancreatic Cancer Society

Team members

Click on one of our team members below to make a donation.

Recent donors

Donation date Donor name Donation amount
Jun 09 Carolyn Bradbury $25.00
Jun 08 D Cox $20.00
Jun 02 Alyssa Undisclosed amount
Jun 02 Mae Kenny Go team Heather!! $27.85
Jun 01 Jamie Loveless $40.00
Jun 01 Denise Cahill $100.00
Jun 01 Suzanne Langmead $25.00
Jun 01 Patricia & Dave $108.45
Jun 01 Phillip Go team Heather!! $26.05
Jun 01 Anonymous $22.47