This is the personal blog of Charity Runner Kino, a 5 Hour Marathoner turned 3:15 Marathoner, who has traveled the world running over 100 marathons / ultras, raising awareness and funding for various charitable causes while encouraging others to do the same.
When you hear the term cancer, any thoughts you may have will likely be unpleasant ones. When you hear the term pancreatic cancer, your thoughts may become grimmer yet, possibly along the lines of "low survival rate" or "short life expectancy after diagnosis". Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer death with a five-year survival rate of 6% (mortality rate of 94%). According to the National Cancer Institute, over 43,000 Americans were estimated to have been diagnosed with the disease in 2010 with roughly 37,000 losing their lives. 75% of patients die within the first year of diagnosis. The average life expectancy after diagnosis with metastatic disease is just three to six months.
The disease is hard to detect because of the location of the pancreas—it is deep in the abdomen and the symptoms are often vague. There are no early detection or screening methods as there are with colon, breast or prostate cancer. The mortality for pancreatic cancer is so high because patients are typically diagnosed when the cancer has already spread to other organs.
Low funding hinders scientific progress. 94% of pancreatic cancer patients die within five years from their diagnosis; a statistic largely unchanged in the past nearly 40 years. In fact, pancreatic cancer is the only one of the top 10 cancer killers that still has a five-year survival rate in the single digits. Additionally, in the same time frame, the five-year survival rate for all forms of cancer has risen from 50% to 68%, and some cancer survival rates are now 90% or above. The sad truth is that there are few survivors to advocate for more research funding.
This year's recipient of the 50 States & D.C. Marathon Group's Humanitarian Award is Hideki Kinoshita, an individual who has lost two loved ones to this disease. His concern for effects of this disease and his love for running were coupled together in a quest to run 14 marathons in 13 weeks. He partnered with the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network to establish a fundraising goal of $10,000 to help in the research and awareness of this dreaded disease. He set out to run one marathon a week for thirteen weeks (3 months) and in one of those weeks, he ran a back-to-back double to complete his goal of fourteen marathons. Hideki experienced some unexpected results along the way: Four marathon PR's were set, the longest distance he ever ran was completed at 60K (37.2 miles), he met a lot of great runners along the way, and exceeded the $10,000 goal.