A voice for hope in the fight against pancreatic cancer

MADISON, Wis. — After a cancer diagnosis, the lucky individuals go into fight mode with the promise of treatment or a cure. That’s not the reality for nearly 50,000 Americans who will die this year from pancreatic cancer, according to cancer.org.

Two sisters know this and need your help to keep their brother’s mission alive. They ultimately hope others facing this disease will have the chance he didn’t get.

It’s hard to feel adrift at the lake. At least, Al Caminata thought so.

“Oh, Al loved the water,” Rene Caminata, Al’s sister, said, staring out at the beautiful view of Lake Waubesa in Madison.

He loved the lake almost as much as he loved people.

“He gave freely of his time to everyone,” Caminata said.

It’s rather heartbreaking because the man who had all the time in the world for others had very little for himself.

“Al said, ‘I want to beat this disease and I want to help other people.’ And, ultimately, that didn’t happen,” Caminata said.

Doctors diagnosed Al with pancreatic cancer in October 2017. He died four months later at the age of 49.

His sisters say the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network was with him and them every step of the way.

“Just knowing they were there. They would always arm us with resources and tools and education to go into doctor’s appointments,” Lori Malett, Al’s sister, said.

That’s why Al’s family is giving back. The latest effort is a fundraiser at Christy’s Landing to raise money for the organization.

“We have to give people hope,” Rene said.

Local musicians West Shore Band will be playing. Two of its members promise a lively night for an important cause.

“This was really important and we wanted to support Rene and the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network,” lead singer Lisa Franek said.

“This is our way to give back to the community,” lead guitarist Craig Koltes said.

Since Al’s death, his family has raised more than $152,800 for pancreatic cancer research and to provide support for others, proving Al’s sisters walk the walk in addition to wearing their advocacy on their sleeves.

“I actually didn’t have any purple (the color for pancreatic cancer awareness) in my wardrobe other than when Brett Favre went to Vikings. I had a smidge. So, yeah, I have a lot of purple in my wardrobe,” Caminata said, pointing out her head-to-toe purple outfit.

Helping people is important; at least, Al Caminata thought so. He just didn’t have enough time to be the advocate he hoped to become.

“The problem with this disease is the voice dies because so many of the people die with it. That’s our mission: to carry his voice forever,” Malett said.

And when others, fighting pancreatic cancer, feel adrift; this family hopes to give them a life raft.

“We as a family decided we were going to carry out his wishes and we were going to fulfill his legacy to help other people,” Caminata said.

That fundraiser is at Christy’s Landing on Lake Waubesa beginning at 4 p.m. Saturday. Rene said attendees invited to wear purple.

The money will go to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, and provide support for research, treatments, advocacy, and hopefully — one day — a cure.