ROLFE PANCREATIC CANCER FOUNDATION

Denise and Scott Adams

“Debbie was the fun one. She was adventurous, kind and caring. We always took vacations together, with her son, Kelly, and my daughter Margaret. She was the type of person that if you needed her, she was there for you no matter what,” shared Denise Adams about her sister, Debbie Slucki, who died of Pancreatic Cancer in 2022 at age 53.

Debbie was adventurous, kind and caring. She was the type of person that if you needed her, she was there for you no matter what.”

 

Debbie’s Pancreatic Cancer Journey

Like so many experiencing warning signs of Pancreatic Cancer, Debbie’s symptoms — including constipation and back pain — were initially attributed to benign medical issues; she had even started physical therapy for her back. While on a family vacation to Disney, Denise noticed that Debbie didn’t have much appetite and had lost weight, which Debbie attributed to healthier eating. Shortly after her return, Debbie went to the ER, concerned that she was having a heart attack, and was told it was GI issues. A few days later, still feeling unwell, she returned to the ER, where doctors determined that she had Stage IV Pancreatic Cancer. 

Denise, a school social worker, and her husband Scott, the Chicago Bears’ Mascot Coordinator for Staley Da Bear, helped care for Debbie during her brief 4-month battle with the disease. “She was diagnosed over the 4th of July weekend and died on October 31st, her favorite day of the year,” Denise commented. “I think it was her way of telling us to always celebrate Halloween the way she and Kelly used to; people would come from all over just to see their house decorated.”  

Kelly and his dog, Rockie, now live with Denise, Scott and Margaret. “My sister was my best friend, so we were always together, and our kids have always been extremely close,” Denise noted. Life without Debbie has been an adjustment for everyone, but a village of extended family and friends, including Kelly’s grandparents, cousins, coaches, and neighbors, have rallied around the Adams family with love and support. Kelly’s new football team wore the purple cancer ribbon on their helmets to honor Debbie, and his travel baseball coach had the purple ribbon printed on Kelly’s baseball bag. “Kelly came home from practice with the bag and said, ‘Mom’s always with me now,’” Denise recalled.

 

Teaming Rolfe Pancreatic Cancer Foundation with the Chicago Bears

As part of the initiative “My Cause, My Cleats,” NFL players and mascots raise awareness for a cause or organization that is personally important to them by wearing custom-designed cleats. When Scott learned about Rolfe Pancreatic Cancer Foundation through a colleague at the Chicago Bears, he signed up Staley to wear purple cleats bearing Rolfe’s name and logo. (This year’s cleats will be auctioned off during Rolfe’s 25th Anniversary Gala, to be held on November 14, 2024, to raise funds for early detection research and patient and family support.) 

“People always reach out after Staley wears the cleats on Game Day to share how they’ve lost people to Pancreatic Cancer. Seeing those shoes makes them feel that connection,” Scott commented.

 

Team Slucki Strong’s Commitment to DASH

In addition to making sure Staley Da Bear is at Rolfe’s DASH for Detection every year to cheer on the runners and walkers, Scott partners with Denise as Co-Captains of Team Slucki Strong. Following the team’s first DASH in 2023, they were excited to form an even bigger team this year. In addition to the family-friendly activities, making team signs to carry, and walking along the lakefront, they also took lots of selfies with Staley.  

“DASH is a way to honor Debbie, and we had a lot of extra supporters this year,” Denise noted. “There wasn’t a dry eye, but we talked about good memories with the kids throughout the walk.”  

“DASH is a way to honor Debbie. There wasn’t a dry eye, but we talked about good memories with the kids throughout the walk.”

Scott was excited to see Staley run in the Kids’ 50-Yard DASH and high-five all of the runners at the start line. “It was great going to the DASH with Staley, seeing him mingle and putting some smiles on people’s faces. Once Staley headed back to his ‘Bear’s Den,’ I had fun at the post-race activities, hanging out with family and friends, and enjoying a nice day at Montrose Harbor.” 

“It was great going to the DASH with Staley, seeing him mingle and putting some smiles on people’s faces.”

“DASH is one thing that we, as a family, have agreed will always come first,” added Denise. “We’ve committed to clearing our schedules every year so that we can be at DASH to honor Debbie.” 

 

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Debbie Slucki, her son Kelly, Denise Adams, Scott Adams, and their daughter, Margaret (left to right)