Giant construction cranes in western Iowa and eastern Nebraska are being painted purple, the color of pancreatic cancer awareness, along with the slogan, "Rise Up For Cancer Research." Ken Tolton is co-owner of Duke Aerial, a construction equipment rental business, based in Atlantic, Iowa.
"A portion of the rental of the boom will go to a trust that will be directly used for pancreatic cancer research. We’re just trying to building some awareness and hopefully someday to help try to find a cure." Tolton’s wife is being treated at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha.
Linda Tolton was diagnosed with stage-four pancreatic cancer in July and was given six months to a year to live. She is 45. Ken Tolton says he hopes his idea of painting the 25 big booms purple brings more visibility for the disease.
"Pancreatic cancer you don’t hear that much of. A lot smaller percentage of people get this type of cancer, but it also is one of most aggressive cancers that’s out there. People are very aware of breast cancer and prostrate cancer and some of the others ones that they have a better handle on, but this particular one, the awareness isn’t as much out there."
Jay Noddle is president and CEO of Noddle Companies, a real estate developer. It’s the first to feature one of the purple booms at the Aksarben Village job site in Omaha. Noddle says, "My father, Harlan, lost a battle to pancreatic cancer in 2005 and so when we heard about what Ken and his colleagues were planning, we wanted to do whatever we could to be involved and to help."
The National Cancer Institute recently awarded a 5.3 million-dollar, five-year grant in pancreatic cancer to the UNMC Eppley Cancer Center. Noddle says his father was treated at the center. Noddle says, "We don’t always know as much about the remarkable things that are taking place at the medical center and the cancer center until we need them, but people should know and need to know."
At no cost to its customers, Duke Aerial will donate a percentage of the fees to rent the purple construction equipment to the Linda Tolton Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund at the University of Nebraska Foundation. There are no tools for early detection of pancreatic cancer, which is a major reason why it’s a leading cause of cancer death. Signs and symptoms typically don’t appear until pancreatic cancer is quite advanced, which is what happened in Tolton’s case.