Updated: Dec 29, 2022
My husband, Eric K DeWitt of VGJazz, was born in November. How ironic that Pancreatic Cancer Awareness month is the same month he was born. I never knew that, but then again pancreatic cancer was not top of mind; breast cancer was due to my two aunts who have and are battling that disease, but not pancreatic cancer. I only knew of one person in my circle, Larry Mikell, who had pancreatic cancer. But I still didn't know much about it.
Of course there are plenty of "famous" people, celebrities who have had the disease: Senator John Lewis, Steve Jobs, RGB, Alan Rickman, Patrick Swayze to name a few. But it hadn't hit this close to home. This disease is the sneakiest cancer out there. There isn't a clear cut way to early detect. It disguises itself as something else less menacing. It lurks behind a benign ailment, then boom! It reveals itself, like a thief in the night, like the devil going to and fro seeking to whom he may devour; a predator. That's what I think of pancreatic cancer, it's a predator, looking for victims. And I'm going to spend the rest of my life, working as hard as I can to identify the predator, profiling it. So it does not sneak up on anyone else, like it snuck up on my husband, Eric and me.
When I look up the works "lurker", "predator", and see pictures on the internet, they are ugly, just as this disease. So November is not only the celebration of my husbands birth, which is magnificent. It's also the month where we shine a light on the predator, lurker, sneaky like thief disease called pancreatic cancer.
So what I'll do? Everything I can. I will participate, raise money, shout from the roof tops. And when I restart my husband's VGJAZZ legacy, I will shout it there too, not just in November but every month. Every month and every where until we have ways to detect this disease at stage 1, not at stage 4, when it's too late for many. It was too late for my husband, even though he battled until his last breath. Even though he refused to transition until he was ready. Until he knew his sisters were in The Netherlands safe. Until we had all of our affairs in order. Until he was ready and saw his father, which I may add, died the same day, September 5th, 18 years prior.
I will continue to fight this disease in my husband Eric's memory, honor and legacy. Through every tear I shed, every fit of anger, every questioning thought, every bought of loneliness, every adventure, every hug, every scream, every laugh, every triumph, every learning, every blessing, I will fight this disease.
No one should go through what my husband went through, no one. It was debilitating, and it took him from the strong, lively King, that he will always be to me, to a rail thin, with the inability to speak clearly, just the ability to whisper and not being able to swallow so he can sustain life. He had boughts of confusion sometimes. But still had his wits about him and knew what was going on around him. What really got me was how he declined. How fast it happened. We left the hospital in good spirits, with determination to beat this "plague." He was walking, talking, eating, dancing the best he could and then the last two weeks of his life, he declined quickly. I know many people do not want to see what he became, physically. But I think it's important to see what this disease does to people. People with purpose, goals, families, careers and dreams. People who want to be able to spend their lives living and loving. People who want to see the world, make a difference in it and help those in need. People like my husband Eric. I hate this disease. I hate how it hides, sneaks and lurks behind benign conditions. I hate how it disguises itself as something else, something that could be brushed off...."Oh I do a lot of lifting, this back pain is just from that" Or as my husbands Dr. advised, "It's just arthritis, let me prescribe "x"" As often as Eric went to the Dr., and he went regularly. As often as Eric knew when something was wrong with his body, and he was very keen to his body and when he needed treatment. As often as Eric went to the emergency room for "heart" issues, stomach issues, joint issues, to get those looked into and then a clear bill of health. He, yes this guy, was very aware of how important regular check ups were. On how regular colonoscopy screenings, prostate exams, heart exams, liver screening (since he did have lesions before) physical screens, PT screens, this guys gets this darn disease.
As I said, it's a predator, sneaking behind benign health issues and then kidnaps your organs and tortures the victim before they pass on. Grant it some, and a very few, have been lucky. They have been able to survive with this disease for years. But I say again, they are extremely lucky and blessed. Most will succumb to the disease within weeks, months, or possibly a couple of years. Most will end up like my husband, until there is a way to detect this disease early at stage 1.
I'm on a mission to do that. To work with organizations and hospitals in honor of my husband to determine ways of early detections; To support research that will allow people to live longer; To kick pancreatic cancer's ass. With early detection and ways of testing, we can and will do so.
Do I seem angry, well I am. I'm going through a few stages of grief at the same time. But I think anger will be with me for some time. So yes, November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month. Everyone will be putting on their purple in support of pancreatic cancer survivors, supporters, current victims, and future research. I will be there too, with my purple. And I will be there with my green. The green that will allow Drs. to find ways to test for early detect. Pancreatic Cancer Action Network is doing some incredible research on early detection and testing. I would like all off those who love Eric to support this organization. I have a donation page in honor of Eric, here's the link to make your donation.
Eric and I Thank You and together we will kick pancreatic cancer's ass!!
Me and Eric in Santorini Greece.