My story is about my Family.


This event took place from 15 June 2008 to 30 September 2009


The Discovery

In June 2008, my sister-in-law, noticed that her husband, my brother, Larry Townsend, was jaundice. She reached out to a GI doctor and an ERCP was performed. A tumor was blocking the bile duct which biopsy diagnosed as pancreatic cancer. Larry went to ETMB (Galveston) where after a complete workup, he had the Whipple surgery. The surgeon was unable to remove all the cancer because it was too close to the vein. It was hoped that the remainder could be eradicated with chemo. Larry passed away September 30, 2009.

My oldest sister, Mae Frances Gardner, went from NC to Texas to help care for Larry. While in Texas, she became ill and saw a couple of doctors without a diagnosis. In August 2008, she was brought back to NC and we continue to seek answers for her abdominal pains, nausea, and weakness. She went to the ER twice, once being admitted to the hospital for five days. Still no diagnosis. In September 2008, a new PCP ordered an abdominal CT scan. It was discovered that she had a mass emanating from the tail of the pancreas. It had grown into the stomach, encased the splenic artery. There were multiple lesions through out the liver and other organs were involved. She passed away two weeks from this diagnosis.

After two siblings were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, it was suggested that the rest of us consult our physicians about a scan. A growth was noticed in the pancreas of my youngest sister, Nellie Townsend. Surgery was performed in February 2009 and the tail of her pancreas, spleen, and lymph nodes were removed. The pathology showed that the tumor was Stage 1 pancreatic cancer. She received 6 months of chemo and is now a 12 year survivor!!
After checking with other family members, we discovered that our mother’s sister died of pancreatic cancer. Mother’s bother had two daughters who died of pancreatic cancer.

This is My Story

For 58 years, we were the Townsend Ten. Ten siblings who loved and cared for each other. Pancreatic cancer quickly changed our number, but will never change our love and care for family. April 30, 2022 will be the tenth year for our PurpleStride team, Townsend Ten Team.

The Impact of Time

It’s time for early detection.
It’s time for doctors to put pancreatic cancer on their radar when someone complains of unexplained abdominal pains.
It’s time for more awareness in the general public.