My name is Joe Marino and I’m riding in the 2018 PMC Winter Cycle event at Fenway Park, I have previously ridden in the Resolution spinning event at the George Foreman Gym. I’m also a 44 month survivor of Pancreatic Cancer. I was diagnosed on March 3rd, 2014 and had a Whipple on April 2nd 2014, I was 36 years old when I was diagnosed.
All forms of Cancer are extremely serious and change the lives of both those diagnosed and of course all of their family and friends. I didn’t know a lot about Pancreatic Cancer when I was first diagnosed, however that all changed very quickly once I first received that call about having a 4 CM spot in my Pancreas. It didn’t take much searching to realize that Pancreatic Cancer has one of the highest fatality rates of any form of Cancer and that the 5 year survival rate was only 6% at that time, it's now moved up to 9% over the past few years. That rate of course is still much too low and we need to continue to make huge strides focusing on early detection for Pancreatic Cancer. I was one of the very fortunate ones who was eligible for a Whipple Surgery, which is an extremely long and complex surgery that unfortunately most people who are diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer aren't candidates for. The reason behind this is that the symptoms often don’t appear until the disease has metastasized to a point where surgery would cause more harm than good.
Not a day goes by where I don’t realize how blessed I have been to have found my tumor when it was Stage One and to be around such amazing doctors, nurses and hospitals. I had my Whipple Surgery at Mass General Hospital and it was performed by Dr. Carlos Fernandez Del-Castillo who is The Director of Pancreas and Biliary Surgery Program at MGH.
It was a long recovery and there are still days where I am much more tired than someone in my physical condition normally would be and my diet is extremely restricted however those are both such minor issues compared to most diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer. I will golf regularly, exercise at the gym and play fairly competitive basketball.
Because of how fortunate I was with this disease I have become extremely proactive in the fight against Pancreatic Cancer. I co-founded the Marino Donnelly Foundation, which focuses on early detection with Pancreatic Cancer and especially with younger families dealing with this disease. We just recently had our 4th annual charity casino night for Pancreatic Cancer and we made a large donation to Massachusetts General Hospital and specifically towards their department focusing on Pancreatic Cancer research. I’m also the team's ambassador for the Boston Affiliate of The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, our PurpleStride walk this past year raised over $500,000 and we had 40 survivors in attendance. In addition to my efforts with this disease my sister and brother-in-law have been riding in the Pan-Mass Challenge the past few years.
I truly believe we are getting closer towards developing a test that will help others find their symptoms earlier when it comes towards Pancreatic Cancer and I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.