Steven Yedwabnick will never forget the thrill that shot through his body when he stood up with other 10-year pancreatic cancer survivors at National Pancreatic Cancer Advocacy Day in Washington, D.C., in 2016. Ten years earlier, after receiving his diagnosis and hearing the alarming statistics about pancreatic cancer, he had set a goal to defy them. Now, after a successful Whipple surgery and seven months of chemotherapy and radiation, Yedwabnick was ready to share his story at Advocacy Day. This moment mattered to him.
Yedwabnick has been a volunteer with the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN) for seven years, with four as the South Dakota Advocacy Chair. In this role, he led groups that met with senators, members of Congress, and their staff. While advocacy is challenging, Yedwabnick remains focused on fighting for the eventual cure for the disease that could have taken his life.
Through his advocacy, Yedwabnick has talked to more than 800 people about increasing funding for pancreatic cancer. However, his advocacy efforts have not been contained to Washington, D.C. He has taken this passion back to his home state of South Dakota, where he has been to the mayor’s office, city council and the office of Governor Noem. At his local PurpleStride event, he is recognized as a survivor and an inspiration to all those fighting pancreatic cancer, and he speaks with others who are doing the same. When PurpleStride Sioux Falls 2019 is held on June 1, Yedwabnick will be there celebrating 13 years as a survivor.
Today, Yedwabnick continues volunteering with PanCAN in an effort to “see constant improvement in treatment options and patient care and give hope for all those suffering from this disease.” As the Survivor and Caregiver Chair for the Sioux Falls Affiliate and with advocacy in his nature, he is always willing to talk about his journey to help someone else.
Yedwabnick’s goal this year is to start a survivor and caregiver connection group in Sioux Falls with his wife, Sue, so that more patients and families can experience moments that matter.