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Family Battles Pancreatic Cancer Jumping A Generation

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(credit: CBS) Matt Brickman
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MAPLE GROVE, Minn. (WCCO) — The seventh-annual Twin Cities Purple Ride hits Maple Grove’s Elm Creek Regional Park this weekend.

The event raises money for pancreatic cancer research and one of the families taking part has been greatly impacted by the devastating disease.

In a home filled with purple, Ruby, Nancy Marian’s mother, is easy to spot.

“My mother died of pancreatic cancer in 2008,” Nancy said.

The cruelty of pancreatic cancer is not just its 6 percent survival rate, which hasn’t improved in 40 years, it’s that it’s genetic.

“I dealt with some guilt, there’s no doubt about it,” Nancy said. “You think, ‘Why would my sons, at such a young age, develop this and not me?'”

Of Nancy’s three sons, 17-year-old Evan and 20-year-old Jacob, have pre-cancerous pancreatic tumors.

“I don’t think about it very often,” Evan said.

And apart from the couple times a year when Evan and Jacob have to undergo extensive tests, they are normal.

For now, the tumors aren’t big enough to cause any problems.

“There’s this magical point, and I don’t know, the doctors say when it gets to 2 centimeters, we’ll need to do something, and right now they’re under 2 centimeters,” Nancy said.

All they can really do is watch and wait, hoping the tumors don’t continue to grow.

“It does not look bright at all right now,” Evan said. “But that’s why we need more research and more treatments.”

The boys are taking advantage of the present. Along with their mother, Jacob and Evan went to Washington DC to advocate for pancreatic cancer research. And Jacob is going to school to be a nurse.

“With pancreatic cancer, once you know you have it, it’s usually too late,” Jacob said. “And we’re the lucky ones — we know that we have it because of our grandmother had it.”

Evan will be riding in the Purple Ride with his father this weekend.

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