Our Stories: Allene Manning
Purdue University Minority Engineering Program
and cancer survivor
When I was a teenager I had always been athletic and healthy. So, it was strange when I suddenly began getting sick and gaining weight in the summer and fall of 1992. I assumed it had to be the stress of my course load and the recent death of my father. I was an Electrical Engineering student and knew that it was very rigorous major.
On Oct. 29th – I remember because it was my 22nd birthday – I had dinner and my stomach burned. The next day I decided not to eat anything; I just drank water. But my stomach still burned badly so I went to the university health center. Given my symptoms, the doctor ordered some blood tests. They revealed a tumor in my pancreas. The doctors urged me to drop out of school and concentrate on my health. Having to postpone my education was very hard.
In January of 1993, I had major surgery to remove the tumor, which turned out to be malignant, along with part of my pancreas, my spleen and my gall bladder. I spent the next six weeks in the hospital, then months at home recovering. In the spring of ’94 I went back to school to pursue a degree in Mathematics in Indianapolis. My doctors had advised me not to try to finish my engineering program because it was too stressful. As much as I believed I would live, I believed that I would be an engineer someday. The next semester I returned to Purdue and finally got my degree in Electrical Engineering. I’ve since learned how to manage my stress, gotten a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering, begun work on my Ph.D. and accepted the position of Assistant Director of the Minority Engineering Program here at Purdue.
When people think of cancer, they automatically think of death. I want everyone to know that we can beat cancer. We are making remarkable advances every day and we have to support cancer research so more people will be survivors like me.
UPDATE: Ms. Manning passed away on April 12, 2016. We send our sincere condolences to her loved ones.