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Written By Debra Gelbart
August 5. 2018
Diagnosed: February, 2001
Stable Disease: Currently August, 2018
A Long-Term Pancreatic Cancer Survivor Determined To Give Back
Kellie Ellegdge-Bott is so grateful she has survived nearly 18-years after her pancreatic cancer diagnosis that she serves as a “voice for those who can no longer be heard.” She’s referring to creating awareness and raising funds for pancreatic cancer research on behalf of pancreatic cancer patients who have passed away. She has participated in many fundraising events in her community of Sacramento, California since 2011. And she has convinced family and friends to join her in pursuit of a cure in honor of those that ultimately lost the battle against pancreatic cancer the deadliest of all cancers with the lowest survival rate of about 8.5% (2018).
“When patients pass away and their advocate voices go silent, their loved-ones, friends, and co-workers should sustain their legacies of those who have lost the battle by becoming strong voices of spreading awareness and philanthropic advocates committed to raising donations so medical science can continue the pursuit of an eventual cure of pancreatic cancer.”
Diagnosis A Huge Surprise
When she was diagnosed, Kellie’s circumstances were not typical. She didn’t have the classic symptoms of pancreatic cancer—jaundice, rapid weight loss, loss of appetite, bloating or common abdominal pain. Instead, toward the end of 2000 and in January 2001, she was experiencing puzzling episodes of low blood sugar. Then, on the last day of January in 2001, she had lunch with a friend and shortly afterward began to feel like she had food poisoning. Her nausea and vomiting worsened and she ended up in a hospital emergency room.
What followed was a nightmarish spiral of left flank pain, abnormal white and red blood cell counts, dangerously high blood pressure and a CT scan that revealed a “softball size mass encapsulating little pockets of tumors on my pancreas and pressing up against the blood supply for the spleen and the left-side adrenal gland,” Kellie said. “ Before the doctors could even do surgery, they put me on I-V fluids in the hospital for eight days. And when I had surgery, they removed two-thirds of my pancreas, my spleen and my adrenal gland. And they told me the mass was cancerous.”
Doctors also told her they believed they got the entire tumor and she didn’t need follow-up treatment. Nearly two decades later, this mother of two and grandmother of six has had no recurrence of the disease. She has Type 1 diabetes because she can’t produce insulin and she’s not allowed to have any alcohol because she has no spleen. “But overall, I feel great and it’s part of my life’s mission to raise awareness of pancreatic cancer and the need to fund research to develop more treatments and find a cure.”
Taking On A Key Role As An Advocate in The Fight Against Pancreatic Cancer
During speaking engagements, Kellie often will ask that 111 people in the room stand up. “This is how many people die every day from pancreatic cancer,” she’ll tell the crowd. “We need to change that.”
On November 10, 2018, Kellie and 22 family members and friends will, as a team, participate in a 5K fun run to raise money for pancreatic cancer research. “We’ll dress up as Star Wars characters,” she said, “and wear purple ribbons to signify hope for this disease.” She’ll also show off her wrist tattoo, a purple ribbon with the word “survivor” above it.
She said she’s delighted to know about the Seena Magowitz Foundation and wants to make people aware of how this organization is committed to funding pancreatic cancer research. “I’m grateful to the Seena Magowitz Foundation and the work it does,” she said. “Whether we as advocates for pancreatic cancer research take little steps like me and my team or big steps like the Foundation to fight this disease, it all makes a difference in the world.”