On July 29, 2006, Stefanie Condon-Oldreive’s life changed forever.
Her father, Craig Schurman Condon, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer at 63 years old. Eight weeks later, her life changed again when Craig passed away.
“During those eight weeks we learned that there was nothing available in Canada for pancreatic cancer patients,” said Condon-Oldreive. “We reached out to PanCAN (Pancreatic Cancer Action Network) and we felt that Canadians should have something similar.”
PanCAN is a non-profit organization based in California that is dedicated to advancing research, supporting patients and creating hope for people and loved ones touched by pancreatic cancer.
“So after (my father’s) death, we put together a very simple web page for memorial donations and directed them to an account where I could ensure that 100 per cent of donations were put into researchers’ hands,” said Condon-Oldreive, who raised over $10,000 at her father’s funeral.
She said that, after the funeral, people landed on her father’s memorial web page, reaching out and asking her for help.
“So we developed the web page a bit more and it really just took off,” said Condon-Oldreive.
Today, Craig’s Cause is staffed by a part-time employees with 100 per cent of proceeds donated to patients and research. To date, more than $20,000 has been donated to patient support and over $2 million to research funding.
But Condon-Oldreive isn’t done raising money and awareness for pancreatic cancer — the cancer that took her father’s life.
“We’re hoping that the purple ribbon becomes a symbol that is recognized, because right now it’s not,” she said. “November is Pancreatic Cancer Month and Nov. 17 is World Pancreatic Cancer Day.”
But before those dates, Colon-Oldreive is planning other local events around Nova Scotia to help raise awareness.
On Sept. 24, Craig’s Cause is hosting its 10th annual bike-walk-run. The event starts at 10 a.m. at Porters Lake in eastern Halifax. The non-profit organization is hoping to raise over $25,000 and expects more than 150 participants.
The year after Craig’s death, the bike tour raised more than $10,000 when over 100 participants showed up to ride around Porters Lake. In 2014, the event raised more than $43,000, which was donated to pancreatic cancer research.
“It’s a great event because (this year) families can walk or run through the Provincial Park, bikers can go the route around the park, there are free tune-ups, and Chad Doucet from Canadian Idol will perform live music,” said Colon-Oldreive. “Before the race, there will be a reading of people’s names who have passed away from pancreatic cancer; a small tribute to have people’s loved ones remembered.”
Another event run by Craig’s Cause is the Light Up the Lake run around Lake Banook in Dartmouth where runners head out at night with glowsticks and headlamps. The event ends with a fireworks display.
“We offer an opportunity to come together and remember our loved ones,” said Codon-Oldreive. “For many of them, for 92 per cent of them, these events are a tribute to their loved ones . . . six per cent of patients in Atlantic Canada will survive pancreatic cancer; it’s eight per cent in bigger provinces.
“Hope goes a long way when motivating patients,” she continued.
The national charity is happy with their success so far in raising money and awareness, but they know there is still a long way to go — one event at a time.
“These events are during our 10th year of operations and we’d love to see some of the biggest crowds possible,” said Colon-Oldreive.
“The only way we can start to bring awareness to this disease is to have people come out and support the event, support each other and share their stories.”