Remember when it was first reported that movie actor Michael J. Fox had Parkinson's Disease? The news gave a well-known face to a debilitating disease and a new nationwide awareness.

A similar phenomenon has occurred with Patrick Swayze and pancreatic cancer. You would be hard-pressed to find someone close to you, if not yourself, who has not been touched by any cancer.

A family member, a relative, a friend, a co-worker may have been affected. I recently had a personal loss due to pancreatic cancer. The significant other in my father's life, for close to two decades, recently passed away from the disease.

Christy was diagnosed in November of last year. When I would share this news with others, the look on their face was telling.

"There is no cure," and "time goes quickly" were two of the responses I often heard. The disease also recently affected my own significant other, when his mother passed away this year.

According to statistics, pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer deaths in our country.

"It is also the least-funded," said Kristen Angell, the committee chair of the upcoming PurpleStride Danbury 2009, a 2.5 mile walk/run to support the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PCAN).

The organization is dedicated to advanced research, patient support and offering hope to the pancreatic cancer community. PCAN funds medical research grants to find causes, treatments and, with hope, a cure.

"Most cases are diagnosed in stage 4, when it is irreversible. And there is a 95 percent mortality," said Angell. "The walk is the first large-scale event being done in this area for pancreatic cancer."

The walk will take place at the Danbury Fair mall on Sunday, Nov. 1, with registration beginning at 7:30 a.m.

"We are organizing the event to bring awareness that we need funding for a pre-screening process," Angell added. Her work on the event is being dedicated to her father.

"The response has been great. I have heard thank you for organizing something like this' and we've been waiting for an event like this in our area.' Everyone agrees it is a well-needed cause," she said.

For more information about pancreatic cancer and the event, go to

If you can't walk that day (remember, sneakers on!), everybody likes a good tune right? Further down county, you can attend the "Rockin for Pancreatic Cancer" event at the Westport Women's Club in Westport on Oct. 23, beginning at 7:30 p.m.

The band "DNR" is volunteering its classic rock musical talent for a concert, complete with fine food and drink. "DNR" stands for "do not resuscitate," as there are a few physicians in the band.

The event is being sponsored by the Independent Business Network (IBN), a networking group for the Fairfield/Westport area.

"A member of our group lost her mother to pancreatic cancer," said Dan Gree, an IBN member and event coordinator.

That IBN member is Lynn Tadell, who also paved the way for the Connecticut chapter of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.

For more information on the event, go to , and search Connecticut events. Then, mark your calendar.

You can do it! Sneakers on!

Did you know? October is a big "walk" month. Other area walks include The Community United Against Domestic Violence Annual 4K Walk on Oct. 4 at the Western Connecticut State University Westside Campus.

Laurie Leavy, a Danbury resident, is a certified fitness instructor, personal trainer and nutritionist. Contact her at