Metro Detroiters walk to raise awareness for pancreatic cancer

PurpleStride walk in Detroit seeks to raise money for cancer research

DETROIT – This year more than 62,000 people will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and hundreds of Metro Detroiters came out to Detroit on Saturday to raise awareness and money for research.

The PanCAN PurpleStride walk is a national movement that funds life changing programs for pancreatic cancer patients and their families.

Pancreatic cancer is when abnormal cells grow and form a tumor in the pancreas. The growth can get out of hand and spread to other organs and tissues within the body. According to PanCan, pancreatic cancer is the 10th most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States -- which is why the PurpleStride walk is meaningful to families across the nation.

Kathy Boertmann passed away from pancreatic cancer in 2020. Her daughter and granddaughter did the walk back in 2019 in honor of her.

“My mom lasted four years. She was my hero and now she’s my angel,” Kelly Boertmann said about her mother.

Michael Godfrey passed away from pancreatic cancer in 2016 and asked his family to take part in the PurpleStride walk.

“He did one walk. He did his one and final walk, and he did it,” said Shannon Godfrey, Michael Godfrey’s niece. “And he did the whole entire thing.”

Edna Jackson Gray is a 15-year survivor. Her first surgery was in 2007, but the cancer came back five years later. Gray will celebrate her 76th birthday this summer.

On Saturday, she brought her bike to the PurpleStride walk, just in case she couldn’t walk the entire route.

“Don’t give up. Because someone says, ‘Pancreatic cancer, and you’re still living?’ Well, yeah. Don’t give up,” Gray said.

Watch the full story in the video player above.

Related: How Alex Trebek’s public battle with pancreatic cancer helped raise awareness

About the Authors:

Priya joined WDIV-Local 4 in 2013 as a reporter and fill-in anchor. Education: B.A. in Communications/Post Grad in Advanced Journalism