‘You are a walking miracle’

Champlin business fundraises for pancreatic cancer research

 

by megan hopps

SUN PRESS Newspapers

 

Lisa Beckendorf (left) and her niece April Johnson (right) raise awareness of pancreatic cancer and fund raise at their salon in Champlin to donate to PurpleRide, sponsored by the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. (Sun staff photo by Megan Hopps)

Lisa Beckendorf (left) and her niece April Johnson (right) raise awareness of pancreatic cancer and fund raise at their salon in Champlin to donate to PurpleRide, sponsored by the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. (Sun staff photo by Megan Hopps)

Maple Grove resident Lisa Beckendorf is a 15-year pancreatic cancer survivor, having been diagnosed with a rare form of pancreatic cancer at the age of 33. She is one of only six percent that survive this deadly disease. Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the United States and has the lowest survival rate among leading cancer killers. This year, more than 45,000 Americans will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and more than 38,000 lose the battle.

When she was diagnosed, Beckendorf had limited understanding of what a pancreas was—or how low her chances were of surviving.

“You truly are a walking miracle,” said April Johnson, Beckendorf’s co-owner of Element Salon in Champlin. “With this disease there are so few people that survive this long beyond diagnosis.”

Beckendorf went on with life, quietly celebrating her personal miracle. She admits that for a while she put the cancer behind her.

“I didn’t want to face it every day,” Beckendorf said. “But I knew I needed to get involved. I wasn’t going to put this in the rear view mirror anymore.”

Fighting Back

Fourteen years went by before she even met another survivor at a cancer symposium at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. There, she learned about the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, and knew it was time to step in and get involved in raising awareness about the disease. Beckendorf is now the Event Coordinator for the Twin Cities Affiliate, organizing the upcoming PurpleRide bike ride on Sept. 12, the PurpleStride walk/run held in Rochester on September 21st and PurpleLight National Vigil for Hope on the steps of the State Capital on October 27th.

Get Involved

On Sept. 15 the Twin Cities Affiliate of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network is hosting its annual PurpleRide family bike ride at Elm Creek Park. PurpleRide Twin Cities, planned entirely by local volunteers, is a day filled with hope and inspiration for participants while supporting important work being done by the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.  Pancreatic cancer survivors, loved ones, friends, and supporters are invited to attend the event.  The ride will be followed by family activities, raffles and a closing ceremony.  As owners of Element Salon, Beckendorf and Johnson have formed TEAM ELEMENT and set a goal to raise $1,500 dollars for the cause at their salon. At this event alone, an estimated 1,200 bikers will ride and a goal of $400,000 will be raised to fund research, working on early diagnosis and treatment of this deadly disease.

“The awareness just isn’t there,” said Johnson. “And hopefully, after hearing Lisa’s story, people will know where to go to find support and information about this disease.”

Since becoming involved with the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, Beckendorf said she’s learned so much more about the disease and just how lucky she is. “Live each day as though it is a gift,” she said, “because it truly is.”

 

To learn more about the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and the Twin Cities affiliate, visit www.pancan.org , or to donate to TEAM ELEMENT, go to www.purpleride.org/twincities and select Donate.

 

Contact Megan Hopps at megan.hopps@ecm-inc.com

 
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