OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- Cancer of the pancreas usually takes lives quickly. Three out of four people die within a year of diagnosis. Forty thousand lives will be lost to the cancer this year in America. But one Raymore man is giving others hope.
In 2012, Mark Hurst wouldn't have believed that he would still be working today at Argus Consulting or that he would still be here for his wife, children and grandchildren. Hurst was making funeral plans.
"I already had my music picked out. I had the way I wanted to be thought of," he recalled.
Hurst had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The disease kills most within months in part because of late diagnosis. Hurst was fortunate to be diagnosed just three weeks after symptoms started.
"I was losing a lot of weight. I knew that something was really wrong," he said.
Poor appetite, weight loss, jaundice and pain in the upper abdomen or mid-back are among the warning signs. Risk factors include smoking and a family history of the cancer although Hurst had no risk factors.
He credits his survival to early diagnosis and good treatment, but progress to find better treatments that can save most people with pancreatic cancer has been slow.
"It's getting better, but it's very, very small baby steps at a time," said Kathy Hogan of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.
So this Saturday, Mark will be among 3,000 people who will take big steps. They'll take part in PurpleStride Kansas City 2015, a walk and run to raise money for the network's programs and research.
Last year, Mark and his team spelled out a short, but powerful word.
" That's what I'm here for now, I feel," he said.
The word was "hope," and he's giving it to others with pancreatic cancer.