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Locals promote PurpleStride 2019

Scripps Ranch resident Angela Essex-Hans is the San Diego volunteer outreach chair for the Pancreatic Action Network and will walk with her team, Gisela’s Angels, in the 2019 PurpleStride San Diego walk/run. (courtesy of Angela Essex-Hans)

Locals promote PurpleStride 2019

When two Scripps Ranch residents each lost a parent to pancreatic cancer, they came across the Pancreatic Action Network, an organization focused on providing services to pancreatic cancer patients and raising funds for research. Years later, they are both volunteering with the organization.

Angela Essex-Hans and Lisa Kobzi are among the group of volunteers planning and promoting the Pancreatic Action Network’s annual PurpleStride San Diego walk/run. The event will take place at De Anza Cove in Mission Bay on Sept. 28.

“It’s a way to honor my mom and it’s a way to help other people. I like doing what I’m doing. I like getting involved in the walk,” Essex-Hans said.

The goal of the walk is to raise money for research and patient services, Essex-Hans said.

According to the Pancreatic Action Network website, the organization offers a variety of free services to patients with this form of cancer. These services range from matching the patient with local doctors to matching them with clinical trials.

Pancreatic cancer is projected to be the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States around the year 2020. Today, this form of cancer has a 9 percent survival rate, according to the Pancreatic Action Network.

Lisa Kobzi, also a Scripps Ranch resident, is the media relations chair for the Pancreatic Action Network and will walk with her team, Purple Pie, in the 2019 PurpleStride San Diego walk/run. (courtesy of Lisa Kobzi)

“The word cancer will change anyone’s life. If you put pancreatic in front of it, you know your chance of survival is so small and it’s just an awful diagnosis. What makes you crazy is that it’s an awful diagnosis and then the funding’s not there,” Essex-Hans said.

This annual walk/run is also hosted in other cities and is the organization’s main fundraiser, Kobzi said.

Last year, the San Diego event raised more than $300,000.

“At the end of the day, it’s really important that the money is being used for what it’s supposed to be used for and I’m proud to be a part of it,” Essex-Hans said.

Essex-Hans, a Scripps Ranch resident for more than 20 years, learned about the Pancreatic Action Network after her mother died, a few months after her cancer diagnosis. She has been volunteering with the organization for the last five years. This year will be her first year as the San Diego volunteer outreach chair.

As part of that position, Essex-Hans said she reaches out to doctors and oncologists to get the organization’s name out. She has also been focusing on securing donations for the event and recruiting teams and volunteers.

At the event, Essex-Hans will walk with her team, Gisela’s Angels, in honor of her mother. She will also work to recruit more volunteers into the San Diego affiliate location.

“Until we get rid of this ugly disease, there’s so much to do and every little bit will help,” she said.

Lisa Kobzi, a Scripps Ranch resident for 18 years, came across the Pancreatic Action Network through research when her father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He died three months later.

Kobzi said this event impacts her in more than one way as she has known multiple people who have died from this form of cancer.

“I know more people that have passed away from pancreatic cancer than any other type of cancer,” she said.

Since her father was diagnosed, Kobzi has walked the event every year. This will be her third year with a position with the Pancreatic Action Network’s San Diego location.

As the media relations chair, Kobzi said she is responsible for getting media sponsors and media coverage for the event and the organization all year round.

This year, Kobzi will also be walking with her team, Purple Pie.

“It’s very inspiring to do the walk because you can relate to other people that have been affected or have lost a family member to pancreatic cancer. We all join together and remember our loved ones that passed away,” she said.

To Essex-Hans, the walk is also very powerful.

“You talk to people. You have survivors there. You make instant connections because we’re all out there trying to change the history and we’re out there trying to honor our loved ones that we lost, or honor someone that’s fighting right now. Even though it’s only for a few hours, it’s just a great, amazing feeling to have,” she said.

For more information on PurpleStride San Diego, visit pancan.org

or contact Angela Essex-Hans at aessexhans@pancanvolunteer.org.

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