Pancreatic cancer survivor to speak at PMC Heavy Hitter Dinner May 9, 2014

Bill Alfano's picture
Bill Alfano

Pancreatic cancer survivor to speak at PMC Heavy Hitter Dinner May 9, 2014

In March 2005, Loie Williams of Newton, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, a disease in which less than 20 percent of patients survive. As a wife and mother, her first thoughts were to remain strong for her friends and her family. She didn’t know the future path that her illness would take, but she told her husband and then thirteen-year-old son that she wasn’t going anywhere.  

“When I first learned I had cancer, I thought of a close family friend who had received a similar pancreatic cancer diagnosis as I had, but lived,” says Williams. “Certainly, as a wife and mother I was concerned about leaving my husband and son, but the reality is that their lives would have gone on. Once I accepted the worst, I was able to hope for the best. My initial goal was to live to see my son’s high school graduation.”  

For Williams, a significant portion of her fight against cancer was her positive attitude. She had to trust her team of doctors to do everything they could to help her. She underwent an eight hour surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and had a tumor the size of a half-gallon of milk removed from her pancreas. Surgeons also removed her spleen.  Lying in a hospital bed after her surgery with what felt like 500 tubes sticking out of her, Williams felt an odd sense of relief. She had a long journey ahead of her but continued to tell herself she was going to survive.  

Williams remained hospitalized for five days. When she went home, she had to change her mindset from being a full-time consultant at a leadership development firm to being a full-time recovering cancer patient. Her new job was to get well. Each day, she pushed herself to walk and eat a little more. Once fully healed from her surgery, she went through chemotherapy treatments every three weeks for four months. As she left after her final chemo visit, she got to ring the survivor’s bell to mark the completion of her treatments. 

In January 2006, Williams began to train to ride in her first PMC to support adult and pediatric patient care and cancer research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute through the Jimmy Fund. Her motivation to ride and raise money for the cause was twofold. She wanted to give back to the institution that had helped to save her life. She also wanted to help current and future cancer patients who may or may not be as fortunate as she.  

On May 9, at the PMC Heavy Hitter event, she will speak about her cancer experience and the importance of helping to fund medical advancements. The event recognizes top fundraisers of the annual bike-a-thon. PMC Heavy Hitters are riders who raisd $6,700 or more in 2013. Her husband, Wayne, 61, and son, Chris, 22, her biggest supporters and former caregivers, will be there by her side.  She looks forward to seeing her son graduate from George Washington University weeks later. 

This August, Williams will once again saddle up on her bicycle to ride in the 35th annual event. She will be among more than 5,800 cyclists who will ride up to 190 miles in an effort to raise $40 million. She will embark on the two-day 163-mile PMC route from Wellesley to Provincetown wearing ribbons with the names of more than 200 cancer patients and survivors whose loved ones have contributed to her fundraising campaign. Her goal is to raise $20,000, bringing her eight-year PMC contribution to more than $128,000. 

“Riding in the PMC has helped to save my life,” says Williams. “When you’re going through cancer treatment, you have friends, family members and acquaintances doing the nicest things for you. Even now, I have people I have never even met who contribute to my annual PMC fundraising campaign. The PMC allows me the opportunity to raise money for cancer research at Dana Farber. It feels great to know that I might be part of finding a cure.”  

To register to ride in the 35th annual Pan-Mass Challenge, which is set for Aug. 2 and 3, or to support Loie Williams or another PMC cyclist, visit


Loie Williams strikes a pose with her family during PMC 2012. Pictured from left to right: Loie’s son, Chris Welch; Loie Williams; Loie’s husband, Wayne Welch; and Loie’s brother, Kent Williams. 

Post courtsy of Allison at Teak Media + Communication