Pancreatic cancer. The prognosis is dire in many ways.

Statistics show that 56,000 Americans will get it in 2019 and 47,000 of those people will die from it.

There are a few stories of survival, including one in Middle Tennessee.

Ardyth Parrick is not only a survivor, she's a widow. Her husband was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2013 and died in June 2016. Just three months after his death, Parrick got the diagnosis - she had pancreatic cancer.

“When you first get the verdict, you're just panicked,” she recalls. “You can't even imagine you've got something like that.”

Parrick was diagnosed with stage I-A pancreatic cancer in 2016. Her condition quickly worsened.

“I had to have a stint put in my gallbladder was totally blocked,” Parrick said. “I was getting jaundiced, and I was tired, weak, didn't have any energy, I was starting to lose weight.”

Parrick was able to get the tumor removed, then began chemotherapy and radiation treatment.

Aretha Franklin, the long-reigning "Queen of Soul" who sang with matchless style on such classics as "Think" and her signature song, "Respect," died Thursday at age 76.

“I was almost done with my radiation treatments, that the doctor told me one day, I'm so surprised, when you came in here, I did not know that you would go out,” Parrick recalls. “He says you were that bad, I didn't expect you to make it… I said, well… I did!”

Parrick said she used her sense of humor and the power of positive thinking in her fight.

“It changes your whole outlook on life, absolutely changes your outlook. I'm so thankful and blessed, I don't know why I'm still here,” Parrick said. “Thousands and thousands of people have been in my situation who aren't here today.”

Christina Forster can't help but get emotional when thinking about what her mother went through.

“She's been such an inspiration, amazing,” Forster said. “I'm really thankful for the extra time we've had with her, it's irreplaceable.”

When Parrick heard about Alex Trebek's public announcement that he has stage IV pancreatic cancer, she thought about the thousands of others who will be diagnosed and the uncertainty they face.

“I would say, no matter what stage you're in, there's always hope. Never, never, never give up. There's always hope.”

She adds, “If anything happens, or if cancer comes back, I'm going to fight it again!”

www.pancan.org is a great resource for someone who has just been diagnosed, for their family members, their care givers, and even those who have lost a loved one to the disease.

Copyright 2019 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

Reporter

Edward Burch joined News4 at a reporter in December 2016. Edward currently covers growth stories in Nashville and Middle Tennessee.

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