Imagine having a servere pain that comes and goes, never knowing when it will hit. You go to the doctor but they tell you it’s acid reflux and send you on your way. You know something isn’t right and finally it gets so bad you can’t walk or stand up. You go to the emergency room, they run some tests and it comes back with severely high lipase and amylase levels, you are having an attack of pancreatitis. They tell you to call your doctor in the morning and send you home. You have more attacks over the next few months, your pancreas has decided to digest itself, causing intense, severe pain and irreparable damage. Your doctor tells you that you carry a mutated gene that causes the disease, nothing did caused it and nothing you can do will prevent it. There is no cure, there is only management in the form of heavy narcotics and hospitalization for severe attacks. This will be a lifelong disease. One leading to a multitude of other complications as your pancreas continues to damage itself. Your digestive enzymes will stop functioning. Your islet cells will become to damaged to produce insulin. Your chances of developing pancreatic cancer highly increases with every attack. Every shooting, stabbing pain you have, you are more and more aware that dangerous damage is being done and all you can do is ‘manage’. Your frequent visits to the ER result in being labeled a medication junkie. And when your pancreas becomes so damaged that your amylase and lipase levels, the one thing doctors rely on to diagnose your disease, are no longer elevating, the ER doctors are more convinced you are just addicted to narcotics and offer no help. Now imagine you are a child. You are 6 years old and at the age of 8 you are labeled a junkie. You have a chronic condition that is misunderstood, even by medical professionals, and you’ll have it forever because remember, there is no cure. You are a child, scared everytime you feel that stabbing pain, wondering which part of your pancreas is taking the damage this time, wondering if you’ll have enough pain pills to get through the attack because you won’t be able to get another refill for awhile, wondering if it’s going to get so bad you’ll have to go to the hospital, again. But you try to not worry too much because you’ve come to realize stress can bring on attacks or make them worse. Oh the irony! It’s easier to not complain than to have to explain try and explain to people outside your family. It’s invisible on the outside, you don’t ‘look sick’ so it can’t be that bad right? You go through the years just trying to have a life, persevering through the continued obstacles you are facing and just hoping the life you have been given will be a life worth living. November is Pancreatic Disease Awareness month. It’s not a ‘popular’ disease with special sporting events, catchy sayings or Tshirts. But it’s real. It’s a disease that has no cure or treatment, often leading to the thought of no hope. It’s misunderstood and lacks awareness in the medical community. It kills, from the complications it causes and going undiagnosed for too long. Our hope is that by sharing Hanah’s story, Hanah’s Hope, we can bring more awareness to finding a cure for pancreatic cancer and help people understand the debilitating effects of pancreatitis.