Neil and Shari Piper believe the annual community walk for pancreatic cancer will outpace the disease that took the lives of three members of their family.
Neil's mother, sister and brother, Bruce Piper, all died from pancreatic cancer. Bruce was able to survive a year with the illness. While undergoing treatment, he learned of a Long Island foundation called the Lustgarten Foundation, established by a prominent businessman who also had pancreatic cancer and who died from the illness in 1999. The Pipers realized after Bruce's death they could not give up the fight to find a cure for a disease that is difficult to detect and even harder to treat.
I talked to my wife and said I would really like to do something, said Neil Piper, who then learned about the community walks the Lustgarten Foundation began holding in Long Island.
A short time later the Pipers decided to hold the first local community walk for pancreatic cancer in 2005.
"We started small, and the foundation helped us," said Neil Piper. With a lot of effort and support from friends, the Pipers were able to raise $4,000 in the first walk.
Last year the 2.4-mile walk was held in Elm Avenue Park along the fitness trail, but as more people signed up, the Pipers realized how many people have been affected by pancreatic cancer.
Neil, along with his nieces and nephews, then all went to get tested to see if they have the disease.
"We all have inflammation of the pancreas," said Piper, who found out in March he was diagnosed with an abnormal growth that turned out to be negative. Piper's niece did have pre-cancerous micro tumors that needed to be removed.
"She decided to have a portion of her pancreas removed," said Piper.
Instead of becoming disheartened, the news only fortified Piper's belief that every effort needs to be made to find a cure.