Crowds will gather in Troy Saturday, April 27, for the Purplestride Walk to End Pancreatic Cancer.

Crowds will gather in Troy Saturday, April 27, for the Purplestride Walk to End Pancreatic Cancer.

Photo provided by Monica-Amit Mishra

Troy area events to raise funds to fight pancreatic cancer

By: Brendan Losinski | Troy Times | Published April 17, 2024


TROY — Those helping combat pancreatic cancer will convene April 27 in Troy for the PurpleStride Walk to End Pancreatic Cancer.

The event is hosted annually across the country by the Pancreatic Action Network, also known as “PanCan.”

The walk in southeast Michigan usually takes place in Detroit, but the event was moved to Troy this year because of the NFL Draft in Detroit.

“We’ve been doing the Walk in Michigan for some time, but it’s been taking place downtown on the RiverWalk, and we had to switch things up because it’s the same weekend as the draft this year,” said Lindsay Szela, the media chair of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. “We chose Troy because of their connection to the Friends of Ken Woods organization, their community center was very accessible and close to I-75, and the fact that we got a lot of support from the community center.”

Michigan’s PurpleStride walk will take place at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 27. The Troy Community Center is located at 3179 Livernois Road. Online signup is available at It is free to sign up, and those who raise $50 get a shirt. There’s no deadline to sign up, and those interested can also sign up at the event.

Walk organizers are coordinating with the Friends of Ken Woods, a local organization that hosts a golf outing each year to raise money for pancreatic cancer research in memory of Ken Woods, a local man who died from the disease in 2007.

“My husband, Ken, was diagnosed at age 46, and he passed away at 48,” said Kandi Wood, the organization’s leader. “At that point, I had already found PanCan. He had reached out to them because they assist people who are diagnosed as far as where to go, who to speak to, what to eat, and so forth. I started volunteering with them two weeks after he died. … I have been volunteering for 16 years now. With the golf outing and the cancer walk we did our first year we have coordinated with the same two guys to put it all together. I sent out several fliers for the golf outing and was giving the money to a doctor at Karmanos because that was where my husband was treated. When he left Karmanos, I decided to donate the money to PanCan, since I volunteer with them.”

Szela said the funds raised help those with pancreatic cancer in two major ways.

“PanCan has a multifaceted purpose,” she said. “There are two big things: They have the patient services phone line that someone with pancreatic cancer or a family member of someone who has pancreatic cancer can call and get information and they can go over your treatment options. With pancreatic cancer, your best option isn’t necessarily chemo, so you want to look at all of your options. The other thing is PanCan funding programs and research, since there’s no cure at this point.”

“PanCan is a great organization. They help the patient, they work with our government officials, they do so much,” added Wood. “It’s not just one thing. They fight pancreatic cancer from every direction. When I joined up with them, I told them I will volunteer so long as I don’t feel I am wasting my time, and I have never felt like I am wasting my time.”

“We have it at Lake Erie Metropark golf course because that was Ken’s favorite course,” said Wood. “We collected $16,000 from last year’s golf outing. … The PanCan team suggested the Ken Wood Memorial sponsor the walk. Since we were donating that money to them anyway, we qualified as the primary sponsor for their Detroit-area walk. … Our money will go toward them this year as well. It happens on June 8. People can sign up by emailing It’s $100 per person for the outing, which includes our steak dinner and hot dog at the turn. We prefer people sign up ahead of time so we can get numbers and groups organized.”

Szela said the golf outing has done a great deal to help people.

“Kandi Wood is one of our local affiliate’s co-chairs,” she said. “She has been active in our affiliate since 2007. She has been working hard on this fundraiser for the last 16 years. She was not allocating the funds from her golf outing. She was giving them directly to the doctor who served her husband and his team. After he moved hospitals, she has begun giving the funds to our organization.”

Szela stressed how important the fight against pancreatic cancer is.

“The five-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer is 13%,” said Szela. “It’s been getting better recently, but that’s still very low. It’s the third deadliest cancer in the United States. In 2024, we’re projecting to have 1,900 people die of pancreatic cancer this year.”

“It is a moving experience,” added Wood. “ It’s a group of people who are fighting toward a goal of eradicating pancreatic cancer because the survivors generally don’t live long enough to waive their flags themselves. We have to have hope for these people, and we are trying to give that to them through our dollars and through the awareness we are raising.”