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The Purple Iris Foundation needs your help

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By Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States, and has the highest mortality rate of all major cancers, with 94 percent of pancreatic cancer patients dying within five years of diagnosis and 74 percent of patients dying within the first year of diagnosis.  

Christina Parrish; her mother, Phyllis Couch; siblings Natalee Kohls, Amy Burgoyne and Tyler Parrish; and family friend Barb Novelli founded The Purple Iris Foundation in March of 2013. It is dedicated to saving lives by increasing awareness, raising funds to help with early detection of pancreatic cancer through initiatives such as the purple iris planting program that not only heightens awareness but also helps in raising funds to support research.

The foundation spent its first year planting purple iris bulbs. The Plant HOPE Project is something Christina Parrish wanted to do as a way to help her remember her friends, give hope to those fighting and to honor survivors. The flower implies a promise of hope, and the purple iris is often associated with valor and wisdom.  

According to Parrish, they will plant anywhere people will let them. 'We have furnished the bulbs for each of the plantings we have done, but donations are greatly appreciated. We have already planted at the Brewer Library, Brewer Auditorium, City of Ellsworth, Hermon Ecotat Garden, Ronald McDonald House in Bangor, Bumpa's Gas and Auto Repair, Spectacular Event Center, and Cancer Treatment Centers of America is Zion, IL.' Parrish says they are currently in the planning stages for a planting at the new expansion of St. Joseph's Hospital.  

Parrish says the foundation is also currently working on educational brochures and will be looking to reach out and speak to people about where the pancreas is and what functions it has.  'We already do this when we reach out to local businesses,' Parrish said. 'They are quite interested in the cause, but when you start explaining the statistics to people, it really makes them open their eyes and listen. Especially when you tell them you have survived for five and a half years. A five-year survival rate for Stage 4 pancreatic cancer is only 1 percent.'

On Thursday, Feb. 27, Parrish will be Chairing the silent auction portion of their Mardis Gras Fundraiser at the Spectacular Events Center in Bangor at 6 p.m. Dinner will be served at the event, and tickets are $40. If you're interested in purchasing tickets, you can call (207) 941-8700, or you can purchase them online at www.purpleirisfoundation.com.  

On Oct. 20, 2013, the Purple Iris Foundation held their 1st Annual Pound the Pavement for Pancreatic Cancer in Brewer. There were 262 participants, and they managed to bring in close to $6,500 from the event. According to Parrish, the involvement of so many volunteers and participants made the event an overwhelming success. The event was such a success that there will be a 2nd Annual Pound The Pavement 5k Fun/Color Run on Oct. 19, 2014 in Brewer. 

'This race had been on my bucket list,' Parrish said. 'Then I was introduced to Amy Badger -- the woman who made it a reality. A huge thank you goes out to her.' 

'Every time we plant Iris bulbs, have fundraisers or speak with the media, it creates awareness and it allows us to educate during these times. Initially, pancreatic cancer tends to be silent and painless as it grows. By the time it's large enough to cause symptoms, it has generally grown outside the pancreas,' Parrish said. 

If you can't make any upcoming events, but are still interested in donating, planting purple irises or finding out more information about pancreatic cancer, you can visit the Purple Iris Foundation website at www.purpleirisfoundation.com.  

Last modified on Tuesday, 18 February 2014 23:02

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