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The City of Oxford’s seventh annual “Run for Life” 5K fun run/walk/bike will be held Aug. 14.

Over the years, donations have been given to a cancer center in honor of and in remembrance of loved ones who have been affected by cancer. Last year the city extended the recipients of the donations to include the Ataxia-Telangiectasia Organization which is a rare genetic disease that has affected three members of Larry and Jill Ward family. This year the city is sponsoring the race to support Larry himself.

Larry grew up in Malad and has been a resident of Franklin County since 2016. He is the owner of Ward Feed & Seed in Malad and is the father of seven children. Due to a toxic exposure in 2013, Larry started having pancreatic attacks. Since that time, his life has been extremely unpredictable and to date he has been hospitalized 35 times to manage the excruciating pain and allow him to be on IV’s as he is not able to eat or drink anything until the inflammation has resolved. This can take anywhere from a day to several months.

For six years he suffered from acute attacks (a sudden and short bout of pancreatic inflammation), but after about a year and a half break from the attacks, they came back with a vengeance in the fall of 2020. He has since been diagnosed with chronic pancreatitis and is in constant pain. Recently part of his pancreas died, said his wife.

After Larry’s most recent hospital stay at Intermountain Medical Center in Murray, Utah he and Jill decided it was time to move forward with a procedure called TPAIT (Total Pancreatectomy and Autologous Islet Cell Transplant). During this procedure, the surgeon removes the pancreas, harvests those insulin-secreting islet cells from the pancreas, then re-infuses those cells back into the liver where they find a home and help manage blood sugar by secreting insulin.

”We learned that a good portion of his pancreas has already died and is now affecting his small intestine,” she said. He had developed jaundice as a result of his common bile duct being completely blocked from the severe inflammation and they are unable to put a stent in like they normally would do. He was put on total parenteral nutrition (TPN) feedings, which bypasses the gastrointestinal tract. Fluids to provide most of the nutrients that the body needs are administered intravenously, and he has had a tube placed to allow for normal drainage. He is also not allowed to have anything to eat or drink by mouth. All of these things will remain in place until his surgery that is scheduled for early September, said Jill.

”Life after the surgery will remain a challenge, as he will likely be somewhat insulin dependent and digestive enzyme dependent for the rest of his life. The hope is that he will be able to have a much better quality of life after this surgery and avoid the pancreatic cancer that runs in his family,” said Jill.

”Approximately 800 people have had the surgery and the majority of people do very well to go on and lead normal lives,” said Jill. To get this highly specialized surgery, the couple will spending two months at the University of Minnesota and slowly get back to normal activities over a years’ time, she said.

The family’s portion of the costly surgery will be $75,000 plus an estimated $10,000 for lodging, travel. “We appreciate so much everyone’s love and support and to date have been able to raise almost $67,000, and only have $18,000 to go to meet our goal,” said Jill! She is documenting her family’s experiences at jillshope.blogspot.com. The family is also accepting support at https://gofund.me/8489ab79 or through venmo @Larrysurgery.

Sign-ups for the Oxford “Race for Life” will begin at 6:30 a.m. Aug. 14, at the Oxford park. The race begins at 7 a.m. There is no fee to participate but all donations made will be given to the Ward family for expenses.

Persons interested in ordering an “Oxford Race for Life” t-shirt, are requested to text 208-840-0715 with their name and shirt size by July 30. The cost for the shirt is $12. The shirts are to support the race and the memory of those affected. Race participants who do to purchase a shirt are asked to dress in purple — the color of pancreas.

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