By Monica Colella
Jim Foster, my dad, was the glue of our family.
When he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in September of 2011, it was devastating to all of our family, friends, and colleagues. He was a genuinely good person and his diagnosis raised the constant unanswered question of “why him?” Even as a well-educated woman, I didn’t know anything about pancreatic cancer and wondered, why is this disease one of the most fatal cancers and the least funded?
After his diagnosis and throughout treatment, Dad didn’t talk much. We all kept wondering what he was thinking about. He put up a good fight and when he was too weak we fought this disease together. When the oncologist and surgeon had done everything they could, my Dad smiled. He shook the surgeon’s hand and thanked him. I remember thinking how could he thank him? It wasn’t until he was gone that I then realized that during all those quiet times we had, he hadn’t been angry. He’d made peace with it long before the rest of us had. He’d slowly taught my mom how to handle everyday tasks, from balancing the checkbook to grilling a hamburger. He even showed my brother how to cook the Thanksgiving turkey. Our fight was cut short after only four months. I think that he was able to thank the surgeon that day because he realized during those short four months that his work here was done. He was confident that he’d done his job as a husband, dad, friend, and colleague and he was proud of the results.
After our loss, our research on pancreatic cancer didn’t stop. I found the Hirshberg Foundation’s website and was excited to find something strictly for pancreatic cancer. My family and friends decided to hold a rummage sale and give 100% of the proceeds to the Hirshberg Foundation. It was well known that all the proceeds from our event would benefit pancreatic cancer research. We held a blind auction and received an abundance of donated gift cards and food from our community, friends, and family. We even had someone donate show rabbits that we were certain wouldn’t sell, but to our surprise they were gone before we knew it!
“Rummaging for a Cure” started out as a simple rummage sale in our community in Sioux City, Iowa. We had a $1,000 goal but when everything was said and done we’d raised thousands of dollars! With all the support, our fundraiser grew and grew and Foster the CURE grew with it! We had numerous people throughout the event tell us their stories about how pancreatic cancer had affected them. I was completely in awe of how supportive everyone was and our event raised a tremendous amount of awareness and funds.
I was happy to have my garage and house back after months of rummage items taking over! I decided it would be months before discussing or planning another event, but it was about six hours before I was planning for next year! Foster the CURE will be doing an annual event each year. Hopefully something bigger and better, to raise money for pancreatic cancer research and we are looking forward to continuing a long lasting relationship with the Hirshberg Foundation.