United States expatriate, Kaila was living a wonderful life abroad in Australia when she found out the devastating news that her mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Dropping everything to be by her mother’s side, she gives a perfect example of love that knows no distance.

My mum, Jude, was first diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in November 2017 after seeing various doctors about symptoms she had been experiencing. I immediately flew back to the United States to be by mum’s side when she started chemotherapy and stayed with her for the months that followed. Despite her treatment being a difficult time, I was fortunate for mum to be there to celebrate my marriage to my partner, Ludovico, in Lake Como (Italy) only two months before she passed away. Mum passed away after a nine-month battle at home with my step-father and myself by her side. I was only 27 when she passed away and now face a life time without her.

Before mum was diagnosed, I knew nothing about pancreatic cancer. After caring for mum, I now know the symptoms, side effects from chemotherapy and even how the body prepares for the end of life. I’m proud of the strength I was able to provide for mum during that time. Mum and I had a strong mother/daughter connection – she was my everything.

This year I’ll proudly be walking in the Sydney Walk for Hope with my husband and friends for team Hey Jude in honour of mum. I’ve been blessed to have the support of a loving husband and friends who are like family in my second home of Australia, who have been there for me every step of the way.

I’m currently the top highest individual fundraiser for the Sydney walk. My advice to others when it comes to fundraising, is to tell your true story. For me it’s come naturally as I’m passionate about pancreatic cancer being heard. I have shared mum’s story on social media, email and even local online groups. My network extends globally, and I’ve been overwhelmed by the donations of support from family and friends in the U.S, Canada, Italy and the UK. I’m so proud of everyone’s contribution and feel good knowing that the donations are going to be used in the fight against pancreatic cancer.

Today, my mission is simple: to ensure more people are aware of this disease and know the warning signs. Don’t be afraid of seeking help if something feels wrong. I want to be a part of a future where no one has to lose someone they love to pancreatic cancer. I’m looking at enrolling in a study for pancreatic cancer related to genetics – not because I’m making friends with this cancer, but because I’m trying to kick its butt!

There are some great awareness organisations out there, including Pancare, and I want my voice to contribute to raising awareness. Together, we all need to do our best to make sure people we’re connected with are armed with knowledge on the disease that one day may help save a life.