Boardman residents fight for pancreatic cancer research

By kalea Hall


Looking at Randy Cramer, the Boardman resident does not appear to be battling pancreatic cancer.

What is noticeable, however, is the message Randy and his wife visibly show.

With purple ribbon tattoos, purple clothing, bracelets and even hair, it is quite obvious the couple has a message to send.

In June, the Cramers took that message of supporting pancreatic cancer research to Washington, D.C., for Pancreatic Cancer Advocacy Day, sponsored by the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCan). This enabled them to tell their stories to members of Congress and encourage more funding for research in curing and preventing the cancer.

“We have found so much support online,” said Vicky Cramer, Randy’s wife. “We chose to go to Advocacy Day to learn and be involved.”

The Cramers have been active in their fight against pancreatic cancer since Randy was diagnosed in September 2012. Randy said he was “healthy as a horse” but became jaundiced. After a series of tests, doctors told him he had stage four pancreatic cancer. Since the cancer had spread to his abdominal wall, the cancer was inoperable. Without surgery, the Cramers only option to extend Randy’s time left would be chemotherapy.

“It was a life-changing event,” Randy said. “It opened my eyes to how blessed I am.”

The Cramers took the diagnosis hard at first, especially when they had to break the news to their three children, but they had to stop the tears and start the fight. Randy was given nine to 12 months to live with the cancer as long as he took on the chemo- therapy treatments. So far, he has had 15 treatments of one of the strongest treatments for pancreatic cancer.

“My husband is 54 years old, and we never thought we would get this,” Vicky said.

The shock the Cramers felt from the diagnosis caused them to reach out. They wanted to meet people who were dealing with pancreatic cancer, and they wanted to learn as much as they could. They took to the Internet and found PanCan, where they were able to grab the reins and fight — not just against Randy’s cancer, but for everyone affected by pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic cancer is the only major cancer with a five-year survival rate, according to PanCan, and it’s believed that pancreatic cancer will be the second-leading cause of death by cancer by 2020.

“When we left Advocacy Day I actually said I was grateful because nine-and-half months later, and my husband is still here,” Vicky said.

Randy was able to share his story with Congress members, including U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Niles, D-13th. Along with 600 other people from across the nation, the Cramers told them “thank you” for passing 2012 Recalcitrant Act, which focuses on research for high-mortality rate cancers that have not seen any substantial research progress. They also asked Congress to end seques- tration and release funds for research.

“I still believe we are going to beat this,” Vicky said. “We know the statistics, but I still tell people this is Randy Cramer.”

Now, the Cramers are focused on fighting and laughing. They hope that one day, Randy can change his title of fighter to survivor.

“I will kick this [cancer’s] butt from one end of Boardman to the other,” Randy said.

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