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Living Healthy

Battling pancreatic cancer

UNDATED (WHDH) -- When it comes to pancreatic cancer, early detection and treatment are key but so much more needs to be done when it comes to research and funding.

Meet one woman who is beating the odds.

Amy Mcdonough-Vaughan of Salem is in the fight of her life.

"The day after my honeymoon, I found out I had a tumor at the head of my pancreas," said McDonough-Vaughan.

It was two years ago when she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

McDonough-Vaughan remembers thinking it "can't possibly be happening. I'm 37. I'm supposed to be starting a family. This is impossible."

"It was the absolute worst day of my life," said McDonough-Vaughan.

As a nurse, McDonough-Vaughan knew the seriousness of the diagnosis.

"I was familiar with pancreatic cancer because I know someone who was diagnosed and passed away very quickly. I was petrified. How do you live, knowing you have a fatal disease and it's gonna be what takes you? But then, I said, I don't wanna live like that. I don't wanna be constantly crying. I don't wanna crawl in a hole and turn down all the shades. I don't wanna live like that that's not a way to live," said McDonough-Vaughan.

That's not how McDonough-Vaughan is living. She's fighting, and so far, she's winning.

"It's like a switch went off. You do have time left. Enjoy yourself. That's how I feel," said McDonough-Vaughan.

Pancreatic cancer is the 4th deadliest of all major cancers - a sobering statistic.

"It's a complicated cancer and there is no good early detection tool. Part of it is where the pancreas is actually located in the body, it's kind of in the middle and a lot of people don't even know they have a pancreas, let alone where it is," said Michelle Wood of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.

Wwhile progress is being made in diagnosing and treating pancreatic cancer, so much more needs to be done - soon.

"It's not as well known. Typically people that are diagnosed are diagnosed so late, that they don't go through years of treatment. They don't have the time to participate in walks," said Wood.

McDonough-Vaughan is raising awareness. She'll join thousands of others, walking with "Purple Stride" again this year, and spread her message of hope.

"It's been a hell of a 2 years for me. I feel great. I don't feel like I'm going anywhere yet. There's hope more hope every day being generated," said McDonough-Vaughan.

You can do your part - the "Unite to Fight" pancreatic cancer walk will be held in Boston on Saturday, September 28th. Registration begins at 8am.

For all the information, log on to http://www.unite2fightpc.org/