Russell Killen signs a lot of proclamations as mayor of Knightdale.
But one he signed recently that hit especially close to home.
“That one was very different for me,” said Killen of the document declaring November Pancreatic Cancer month. “My mother and two of her sisters died of pancreatic cancer. We all are very directly affected by that disease.”
Killen’s mother, Linda Killen, died last Dec. 11 and his aunts Annie Bogue and Ruth Mercer also were victims of the disease.
Killen said lots of families go through the pain of cancer illnesses and deaths, but what stands out for pancreatic cancer is that there are very few survivors.
“Ninety-five percent of the people die within 18 months,” he said. “Most people diagnosed with it don’t live long enough to be spokespeople for it.”
And being a spokesperson for it means getting dollars for pancreatic cancer research which is why Killen is doing his part.
Pancreatic cancer begins when abnormal cells grow out of control within the pancreas.
Now Killen is doing his part to fight the cancer.
Killen, his sister, Karen Banks, and several cousins are participating in a study on pancreatic cancer at UNC.
“When mom was alive, she went to investigate some study treatments at UNC,”said Killen. “The folks conducting research saw the history of pancreatic cancer in our family and asked us to participate in the study.”
Killen and his daughter Rachel attended a Pancreatic Cancer Network fundraiser at Mimi’s Café in Cary last Monday night. Morrisville Mayor Jan Faulkner, Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht and others came out to raise money and awareness about the disease, he said.