Our story starts like so many others who lose someone they love to pancreatic cancer. You learn things about this terrible disease you wish you could change. You learn about the horrific mortality rate, the highest among major cancers. You learn how underfunded research is for this disease, the lowest among those same major cancers. And then you end up wishing there was something more you could do.
Our story, the PCCF story, starts with Amy (Cygan) Spier being diagnosed with Stage 2 Adenocarcinoma of the pancreas at age 49. It was shared later that after hearing her diagnosis and listening to an honest and sobering prognosis including the current five-year mortality rate (which at that time was only 6%), Amy thought for a moment and then reached out to shake her doctors hand as if to introduce herself. She did in fact, do just that, saying something along the lines of “Hello, I’m Amy Spier, and I’m going to be one of those 6%”. And thus her fight began.
With her team at Jefferson/Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center, Amy fought hard and fought well. Her whole team did. She had numerous surgeries, including the Whipple procedure which she was fortunate to be a candidate. She had multiple rounds of chemo, radiation, therapies, diets, medications and countless visits to doctors and specialists. She had her ups and she had her downs. Setbacks and advances. Hope and despair. Periods of pain and nausea and periods where she felt amazingly good. Thanks to her medical team at Jefferson, she was able to enjoy a surprisingly high quality of life during the years that followed. Sadly, on November 29th, 2014, Amy lost her 3-year battle with pancreatic cancer.
Amy was part of a very large family; she was one of 11 children. So when the family decided they wanted to hold some sort of event to raise money for research, there were plenty to share the load.
Actually, Amy was still battling the disease when we started planning our first Amy’s Ride/Run/Walk event and was aware of the plans being made. She passed before the event was held in May of 2015 and was not able to see how the event grew and how generous and broad the community support was. Inspired by the success of the first event, the family decided to do it again the following year, this time adding a 5k run to the day. After the second year, it was evident that our hearts were bound to the cause. The family made the unanimous decision to continue to support the fight for pancreatic research and care, and formed the non-profit, the Pancreatic Cancer Cure Foundation, Inc. to honor Amy’s courage and resolve, while also raising capital and awareness for the shockingly underfunded research programs for pancreatic cancer.
A little over 30 miles away, in January of 2013, Jean Loggia was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Jean was quickly treated by the passionate team of doctors at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Thomas Jefferson University. As one of the fortunate few, this wife, mother of 4, and Philadelphia native has been healthy and cancer-free since November of 2013!
While attending a patient symposium on pancreatic cancer at Jefferson, the Loggia family met the Cygan family. Both families have collaborated since 2016. In 2019, both the families and the PCCF organization launched the Paint the Trail Purple Ride/Run/Walk event along the Schuylkill River Trail to celebrate the hope and triumph over pancreatic cancer that Jean Loggia’s story represents. The PTTP event also aims to honor those who have bravely fought this terrible disease, and raise funds to support valuable research and patient treatment. We need more stories like Jean’s.
Our stories are special to us because they are our stories. There are far too many stories ending like Amy’s than like Jean’s. We remain committed to wanting to make a difference so that there are better endings to these stories. Pancreatic cancer has progressed to be the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States and research funding is critically lacking and direly needed. Please help us to support the research needed and provide compassionate care for those pancreatic cancer patients in need.
– The PCCF Family