"I just had to find ways to celebrate, you know?" she said.
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Pancreatic cancer is often caught in the late stages and is very hard to treat, but one Hollywood veteran managed to beat the odds.
She credits her doctor, the support of a local organization and humor.
You may have seen her face or chuckled at her jokes. Making people laugh is what actress and comedian Wendy Hammers does best.
Humor has guided the 61-year-old through her darkest days battling with pancreatic cancer.
"I just had to find ways to celebrate, you know? I remember dancing during chemo. I've always had butt, boobs and hair and those three were gone," she said.
Hammers' journey with cancer started seven years ago.
"I lost weight and then I did what any good person does when you lose weight. You go eat brownies," she said.
Besides dropping 40 pounds, she felt sharp abdominal pain.
"Apparently, there was a tumor pressing on my bile duct. I went in, found out and went into treatment almost immediately," Hammers said.
According to doctors, pancreatic cancer is currently the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S.
Dr. Timothy Donahue, the surgical director of UCLA's Agi Hirshberg Center for Pancreatic Diseases, said Hammers is truly a tremendous success story.
He said she was fortunate to feel symptoms because that's not usually the case.
"The five-year survival rate is 10% or 11% or so. So, it's incredibly low," he said.
Hammers underwent chemo and surgery. While Donahue saw to her medical care, the support team at the Hirshberg Foundation saw to her emotional care.
"There's so many things they did for us that really did make a difference and that got us through," Hammers said.
The comedian is now using her talents to support the foundation's 25th annual L.A. Cancer Challenge on Sunday, Oct. 23, at UCLA.
"I will be there celebrating life," she said.
Besides patient care, proceeds also fund the UC Pancreatic Cancer Consortium, where researchers collaborate across five UC campuses.
For Hammers, science is one part of the equation, humor is the other.
"By humor, I mean perspective, when you go through something challenging. If you can't laugh at the absurdity of your life, then you're lost," she said.