Less than a week after Christine Edmonds and her family received the devastating news that her husband, Kevin, had pancreatic cancer, they were on a beach in the Virgin Islands. This is how Kevin was—the type to opt to live life rather than wait for it to end—and it’s why he became the inspiration for A Love for Life, the Philadelphia-based nonprofit that raises funds for pancreatic cancer research. It founded by Christine in December 2012 following her husband’s death.
Kevin’s diagnosis wasn’t Christine’s first experience with this ruthless form of cancer. The year before, she watched as her sister-in-law battled the very same disease, eventually losing a seemingly rigged fight.
“Pancreatic cancer might not be as common as, say, breast cancer, but the chances of you dying once you get it are incredibly high,” says Christine. “And, it’s incredibly difficult to test for. My husband went to the doctor six or seven times before they finally said, ‘Yes, you have pancreatic cancer, and it’s everywhere. You have about six months.’ Once you are diagnosed, there’s just no hope.”
With only a 5 percent five-year survival rate (to give you some perspective, breast cancer has a five-year survival rate of 89 percent), pancreatic cancer is the deadliest of the major cancer diseases. Despite its claim on over 33,000 lives in the U.S. each year, the funding for research remains sparse.
After Kevin’s death, 22 of his friends banded together to race in last year’s Philadelphia International Dragon Boat Festival in an effort to raise money for pancreatic cancer research. None of them had ever participated in a dragon boat race before, but that didn’t stop them from raising a hefty sum to donate to finding a cure.
This year, they’re at it again—except this time they’ve got five boats instead of one. The teams will race this Saturday, October 5th, at the Dragon Boat Festival along Boathouse Row. All the funds their team raises will go directly towards funding pancreatic cancer research at Penn Medicine, where Kevin was treated.
“I talk about Kevin a lot but, this isn’t going to help Kevin,” says Christine. “This is about your brother, your cousin, your aunt, your friend, who could die from this. We want to find a cure for them.”
You won’t be able to miss Kevin’s cheering section: The A Love for Life crew will be manning 40 tables draped in bright purple tablecloths. You can support their efforts by sponsoring the boat or ordering some swag.