Step It Up Walk Nov. 21

The 6th annual Step It Up to Cure Pancreatic Cancer 5K Walk will be held Saturday, November 21 from 12:00 to 4:00 p.m. at the RIT Gordon Field House.

Mary Ellen Smith, the Associate Executive Director of the Pancreatic Cancer Association of Western New York, and Mark Kokanovich, an 11 year survivor of pancreatic cancer and the Honorary Walk Chair, discussed the disease and the Walk Monday on News 8 at Noon.

The Pancreatic Cancer Association of WNY was formed in 2009.  Smith, who lost her mother to pancreatic cancer after a 13 month battle, said the organization funds local research, provides educational programs and offers patient support services.

Pancreatic cancer is difficult to diagnose and often detected in the late stages.  It has the highest mortality rate of all the major cancers.  There is no screening.  Currently cancer of the pancreas is the 4th leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. and the third leading cause of cancer deaths in Monroe County.  As a survivor, Kokanovich is the exception, not the norm.  Only six to seven percent of people survive more than five years from diagnosis.  Three out of four die within a year.

Symptoms of the disease include abdominal and/or back pain, fatigue, unexplained weigh loss, loss of appetite, jaundice, digestive issues, changes in bowel habits and diabetes.

The Walk is held each year in November as part of Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month.  It's a family fun event with activities and entertainment for all ages.  All of the funds raised stay local for local needs.

To pre-register for the walk online, visit the Pancreatic Cancer Association of WNY website, click here.

As part of a special month-long fundraiser Kittleberger Florist is selling purple carnations and specially designed bouquets with a portion of the sales going to the Pancreatic Cancer Assocation.

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