How losing her parents lead her to volunteering

Monica loses both her parents to pancreatic cancer, first her mother and later her father.  Her mother wasn’t given many options – either chemo or let nature take its course.  With the low survival rate the decision made was to let nature take its course.  Monica being a researcher googled pancreatic cancer and found a chat group.  After reading a few stories posted by family members, Monica felt her mother had been given a death sentence.  After losing her mother in 2003 she continued to do research but found nothing was really being done.  She joined the PanCAN Albuquerque, New Mexico Affiliate in 2012 after attending her first PurpleLight. Monica always loved to volunteer, pancreatic cancer ended up choosing her mother and that lead her into the direction of volunteering with PanCAN.  Monica is the Social Media Chair of the Michigan Affiliate and has also served as the Advocacy Chair.  The first thing she tells people she meets who have been diagnosed or their family members is to contact PanCAN.  “I’d let them know there is hope not to give up, different things going.”  Monica feels going to Advocacy Day and sharing your stories with members of congress is very empowering.  It’s important our representative know “My mother was just not a statistic, she was not a number she was a real person.”  Monica was completely blindsided when she found out her dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer some years later.  Her father had seen what his wife and gone through so he was a little more aware and his was found earlier.  His symptoms were different, jaundice, itchy skin, he was able to have the whipple but sadly died less than a year later.  Monica hasn’t really come to terms yet in losing her father, she is still  mourning  her mother.  Losing both parents to pancreatic cancer Monica is more involved and invested in the fight against pancreatic cancer.  Quoting one of her favorite researcher, Dr Howard Crawford “It can be bent.”  Monica’s goal is to raise as much awareness, keep her mothers legacy alive, “I don’t want her to ever be forgotten and she won’t be forgotten through me or the work that I do.”

This episode of Living Hope is dedicated to Monica’s mother Ranjana Upadhyaya “MAA”

You can reach Monica through the affiliate facebook

or email


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