Bloor West family continues its fight against pancreatic cancer with Accessorize for Awareness campaign

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Photo : Courtesy photo
High Park area resident Marianne Musi and her family have established the Accessorize for Awareness campaign to raise awareness and funds for pancreatic cancer.

Bloor West Villager
by Lisa Rainford

She put up “one heck of a fight,” but tragically Demetra “Didi” Diles, 52, succumbed to pancreatic cancer, seven months after her diagnosis.

Since Diles’ passing in March, her family is still digesting the fact that a once “healthy and most vibrant” woman is gone.

“It’s weird. All of us are going through our own emotions. We’re just trying to accept it,” said her daughter Marianne Musi, who lives on Quebec Avenue with her husband. “It feels like it didn’t happen, that she’s on vacation.”

Despite their grief, the Diles’ family remains committed to raising awareness and funds through their Accessorize for Awareness campaign, for a deadly cancer that has just a six percent survival rate.

Since last October, Musi and her sister-in-law Kimberly Lamontagne have created a variety of purple bracelets with a wide selection of charms. Bracelet sales brought in as much as $8,000 within the campaign’s first month.

At the time of Diles’ death, the future of the Accessorize for Awareness campaign was uncertain, according to Lamontagne. What was once “worked on with hope became a constant reminder of our deep loss,” she said.

“I am happy to say, however, that we are forging ahead with the campaign – it’s what Didi would have wanted,” Lamontagne said. “No one should have to face what she and countless others do because pancreatic cancer continuously falls under the radar.”

As the campaign nears its first anniversary, new charms are being created.

Few people realize just how devastating the disease is, Musi said.

“My mother was a healthy, 52-year-old woman. She walked every day. By the time she died, she was down to 80 lbs. She couldn’t walk; she couldn’t go to the bathroom on her own,” she said. “It’s so hard to watch a family member go through that.”

Diles experienced pain for as long as a year before her diagnosis in what she thought was her stomach, according to her daughter, however, she had always suffered from digestive issues and so thought nothing of it.

Pancreatic cancer is seriously underfunded, receiving only 0.1 per cent of all research funds, according to a report by the non-profit institute Charity Intelligence Canada.

If you would like further information or would like to purchase a bracelet or make a donation, visit accessorizeforawareness.com

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