Coaches, refs & pancreatic cancer

The NBA Coaches Association is joining forces with NBA Referees in wearing purple wristbands in support of referee Greg Willard who was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The special bands, worn to bring about more awareness to the disease, are being provided by the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. Said Association President Rick Carlisle, “At the end of the day we are all one NBA family.  Wearing these wristbands will raise the visibility of this devastating disease, highlight the important mission of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and show our support for long time referee, Greg Willard.”

Both the coaches and the referees will wear the special bands for the month of November. For more information on how you can help this month, please visit

We encourage you to take a moment and see how you can help!


  1. Dana Quinn says:

    This is fantastic! Thanks NBA for taking a stand and showing support! I challenge you to wear the wristbands all season…why stop in November? I’ve had my purple PanCAN bracelet on since June 3, 2010 when my dad was diagnosed as a reminder to never stop fighting on his behalf and all this affected by the disease.

  2. There are not enough words meaning “Thank You’ in the English language to express my appreciation of the NBA’s support this month in raising PC Awareness. I lost the love of my life in August of 2011 to this monster disease – 48 years old – biggest sports fan ever. This would make him beam. Those of us who have dedicated countless hours and dollars into fighting the fight really appreciate when a “big gun” steps up to help – you really have no idea. We are not Pink – Our Purple Warriors do not get the big celebrations, because most of them die within 12 months of diagnosis. Well, to be exact, 74% die within 12 months of diagnosis and our 5 year survival rate is 6% – There has been NO significant change in 40 years with this disease. It is time for change NOW. So, much appreciation to you all for assisting in our campaign this year! You have given me a little extra to be thankful for next week!

    Warm Regards,
    MaryKaye Mackulin
    Pancreatic Cancer Action Network – Cleveland Affiliate
    Media Representative
    Devoted fighter for my sweet EJD. Always in my heart.

  3. Thank you for your comment! Here’s to your dad on a speedy recovery!

    • Dana Quinn says:

      Unfortunately, my dad passed away 9 months after diagnosis. Sadly, I feel fortunate to have had 9 months to say goodbye. Some families only have a matter of weeks due to the lack of funding and research to develop an early detection tool. Did you know that pancreatic cancer receives only 2% of the federal government’s annual cancer research budget? My dad was given basically the same diagnosis as those in the 1970′s…little progress has been made for this cancer in over 40 years and we are the only major cancer killer with a survival rate still in the single digits at just 6 %. As someone who watched a loved one suffer from this insidious disease for 9 months, I will do all I can to make sure change happens for this cancer.

  4. MaryKaye , thank you for sharing your story; We are so sorry for your loss. I’m grateful for the opportunity to highlight this story on TGiS in the hopes to bring about even more awareness.

  5. Marta Pickle says:

    Thank you Thank you Thank you for showing your support for all the Hero’s who battle and have battled this terrible disease!!! I thank you personally from my 3 daughters for our Superman, my husband, their Dad who battled for 3 years and lost his fight at the age of 52…Having been an advit basketball fan forever. I am so very proud to know that the NBA will help us all show awareness and support!! God Bless the NBA!!!

  6. Amy Di Bella says:

    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!! I wear TWO purple wristbands all day, every day in memory of my beloved momma who sadly passed from PC in 2011. Thank you for bringing more awareness to this cancer which has impacted so many of us.

  7. Janet McCraw says:

    Thank you from the depths of my heart to the NBA Coaches Association and the NBA Referees Association for launching this awareness campaign in support of one of your brethren. I lost my mother last month to this brutal disease after being diagnosed just two months prior. Our family lost mom’s younger brother in June of this year to pancreatic cancer as well. While our hearts hurt, we are also angry that this disease has received so little attention and federal funding. How, in this day and age, can a diagnosis of one disease be an almost certain death sentence? Thus, I thank you again for bringing awareness and I will keep Mr. Willard in my thoughts and prayers.

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