PHILIPPI, W.Va. — Annette Fetty-Santilli wears purple every day. It might be a ribbon, a scarf or a shirt, but purple follows Annette everywhere she goes.
“I really believe there’s a reason for everything that happens in your life,” she told 12 News. “We don’t always know what it is at the time.”
Annette’s reason is her brother, Jim. After months of misdiagnoses, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer on March 21, 2006. He passed away on October 4th, 2007 — just 18 months later. He was only 38 years old.
Like many remarkable people, Annette’s mission became clear during a moment of intense personal loss.
“I just like to think about the calling that God said, you know, that you need to do something about this, no one else should have to suffer like this.”
Now, thanks to her work, many people are no longer suffering alone. The day Jim passed away, Annette dedicated her life to advocacy. She works with the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCan) as a community advocate. Through PanCan, she helps people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer to speak with survivors, get enrolled in clinical trials or simply, find the help and company they need.
She leads other volunteers in West Virginia in efforts to raise awareness throughout the state.
“We can all participate with purple stride all over the country. West Virginia will be participating in fact in Pittsburgh in April.”
She also spends a large amount of time advocating to federal legislators to increase funding.
Of course, with the victories come the sad days.
“I lost a good friend friend back in July […] I mean it really hurt, it’s sort of like you’re going through it again.”
Annette does all this while working a full time job. She also volunteers with other organizations like the American Heart Association. Throughout it all, there is the memory of Jim.
“My brother was definitely one of my best friends. There wasn’t anything we wouldn’t do for each other, and this was the one thing I couldn’t fix,” she remembered. “He was a very hard worker, he was funny, he was always the life of the party.”
His legacy is the biggest motivator behind this remarkable woman.
“I do believe he looks out for me every day, and I’m very, very grateful for that.”