Five years ago, Linda Plymesser made herself a promise to spread awareness about pancreatic cancer.

Her husband, Vern Plymesser, died of pancreatic cancer June 9, 2014. As a special education paraprofessional in the Oregon Area School District for 20 years, Plymesser used her resources at the district to do just that.

Since 2014, she has organized “Purple Day,” at Oregon High School. She encourages everyone to wear purple on national Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Day, which this year fell on Thursday, Nov. 21.

More than 50% of staff and students wear purple to show awareness for the third most common type of cancer. This year, Rome Corners Intermediate School and Oregon Middle School also joined in on the awareness campaign.

At the age of 73, Vern died just three months after being diagnosed.

Plymesser said the key is early detection. Her husband was in pain for more than a year before he was diagnosed by doctors.

Plymesser said she is grateful when she sees her colleagues and students with purple hats, beads, shirts or socks. She feels like the word is getting out there about a cancer that is known as the “secret killer.”

“There are probably parents at home asking ‘Why do you have to wear purple today?’” Plymesser said.

Students and staff also create information posters, and one year held a bake sale that raised more than $150 towards pancreatic cancer research.

For information on the next pancreatic cancer awareness day, contact Linda Plymesser at

Contact Mackenzie Krumme at