Woman who survived pancreatic cancer hoping people will participate in virtual walk to raise funds for cancer research

The goal this year is to raise $30,000

SUN PRAIRIE, Wis. — Sun Prairie resident Ruth Haima describes herself as a “walking miracle.”

“I’m alive today because of my persistence and because my doctor took it seriously,” she said. “Every day is a joy. It’s an adventure. Every moment is a treasure. I don’t take anything for granted because once you look at death in the door, everything else goes away.”

Haima is a pancreatic cancer survivor.

“I am. Of eight years almost,” she said.

According to Dr. Noelle LoConte, an oncologist at UW Health, pancreatic cancer is the third leading cause of cancer related deaths in the U.S. LoConte said the five-year survival across all stages combined is 10%. Approximately 10%-15% are diagnosed in stage 1, fewer than 10% are diagnosed at stage 2, about 35%-40% are diagnosed at stage 3, and 45%-55% are diagnosed at stage 4.

Haima was diagnosed in the early stages of cancer. She said she felt symptoms for two years before being diagnosed. She went through surgery and five rounds of chemotherapy to get rid of two tumors that were growing on her pancreas. It took more than a year until she became cancer free.

“People are still dealing with this on a daily basis,” Haima said. “There’s an unusual feeling in their body. They go to the doctor, they have various tests done and it’s still an ongoing thing. Life does go on whether there’s a pandemic or not. People need to be able to get tests and find ways to stop it.”

Her story of survival is now leading her on a new path to bring awareness and raise funds for cancer research so others can continue to carry on their own journey.

Haima is encouraging people to particulate in this year’s Roll and Stroll event to help raise money for the Carbone Cancer Research Center at UW Health so that researchers and scientists can “try to find newer ways to diagnose it early on so people like me are not the unusual miracle, but are the norm.”

The Roll and Stroll event was supposed to be one big day of walking and fundraising, but now that can’t happen due to the pandemic. Haima is encouraging people to do it virtually.

“I was supposed to speak at the event in Middleton coming up here, but because of that, we have to do it virtually and just have to adapt and overcome whatever we can,” she said.

The virtual Roll and Stroll event starts now and continues through Aug. 9. The goal is to raise 30,000. All you have to do is register here and you can walk, bike or run on your own time.

“Even though we may be physically apart, we’ll be united in spirit as we work together to find a cure for this disease,” Haima said.

Participants are encouraged to share their walk or ride on social media using #MyRollandStroll.