Seena Magowitz

That Day in 2001, My Heart Was Ripped Out

Struck with shock and fear, I tried to understand what just happened. My Mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and given just months to live. Time had become our enemy. I stared at my watch for hours, then removed it and tucked it safely away as if it would let time stand still.

As a single Mom she worked very hard creating a humble life for us during my younger years in a single bedroom apartment. A tough lady yet caring and philanthropic. She taught me how to respect life. To strive for responsible maturity, tenacity to succeed and the rewards of compassion.

I remember the endless hours she and my grandmother dedicated as leaders of the “Friendly Group”, a charitable organization that raised funds for Brookdale Hospital in Brooklyn, New York for cancer research. They left an imprint on me of how important it is to help the community with a giving heart.

That fateful day of her diagnosis in 2001 is embedded forever. Unrecognizable symptoms had permitted pancreas cancer to advance well-beyond the possibility of survival. Absent a sliver of hope and without viable treatment options, she bravely asked the oncologist how much time she had. With empathetic voice, the doctor said just a few months.

My Mother was a fighter and mentally prepared herself for the battle that lay ahead. I was devastated. Angry that such a brutal disease permitted so little time. I knew nothing about this dreadful killer. Why so little time? No meaningful treatment options? No drugs to give even the slightest hope? Had the medical science industry and our government turned a blind-eye to pancreatic cancer? The deadliest of all cancers?

There had been so little advancement in fighting pancreatic cancer. No viable method of early detection. Few treatments to extend quality of life. All cancers are devastating, but while the survival rate of other well-known cancers dramatically improved, prognosis of pancreas cancer had stood still for decades. Our government and private funding of pancreatic cancer research was severely deficient.

Armed with philanthropic attitude that my Mom had embedded, I became passionately committed to helping fund expert pancreatic research to hasten the pace of medical advancement. There was a reason God had taken my 64 year-old Mother. In honor of her legacy, I am perpetually compelled to devote my energy to give greater hope to pancreatic patients. This brutal disease must be eradicated.

My wristwatch? Still safely tucked away until the ultimate mission is achieved.

~ Roger E. Magowitz