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Cancer patient defeats all odds: 'There is hope. Seek treatment and don't give up'

Photo from Boise Pancreatic Cancer Action Network

Diane Schooley-Pettis and her husband spent their third anniversary like it could be their last.

Honoring their vows in sickness and in health - they traveled the world together. She says it brought them together in more ways than one.

Cancer is a gift in that way. Schooley-Pettis was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer in 2002.

"When she (the nurse) said, 'You have pancreatic cancer.' It was as if I backed out of the room," Schooley-Pettis said, "I wasn't really there. I think that was kind of a way of going into shock."

Only around 20 percent of patients are eligible for surgery, according to Pancreatica - a Cancer research group.

Schooley-Pettis wasn't one of the lucky ones. For her, surgery was not an option. Which she says made it an even scarier diagnosis.

So she had to undergo radiation for six weeks and chemo for 27 months.

Until one day she went in for her usual treatment, and the nurse turned her down saying, "you won't be having chemo today."

News that's disappointing to any cancer patient... At first.

"Then she said, you just got the results of your pet scan and the cancer is gone," Schooley-Pettis said.

She calls it a miracle. According to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, the five-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer patients is currently just 8 percent. Diane is pushing 14.

"I'm doing what I can for other patients and families because I think I'm still here for a reason," Schooley-Pettis said. "Part of that is to help others."

She's played an active role in Boise's annual Purple Stride race, saying it's not only a celebration of those who have survived, but an opportunity for families to honor their loved ones.

Money raised at the event also goes toward research for diagnostic testing and clinical trials.

Pancreatic Cancer is one of the top 5 deadliest cancers, according to LiveScience.

So even if it hasn't impacted a loved one's life yet, it could in the future. If you get that diagnosis, Schooley-Pettis has one message.

"There is hope. Seek treatment and don't give up."

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