November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month. Unlike breast cancer, there is no early screening for pancreatic cancer. We need to raise awareness for this terrible cancer, which begins with just a purple ribbon.
I’ve been advocating for pancreatic cancer awareness since October 4, 2007, the day that my younger brother passed away from pancreatic cancer. Until he was diagnosed just 18 months earlier, I didn’t know anything about pancreatic cancer, because it didn’t apply to me or my family.
When someone says to me, “I don’t know anyone with pancreatic cancer,” I say, “Until March 2006, I didn’t either.” You never know when pancreatic cancer will affect your family; it sure caught our family by surprise, and our lives have never been the same.
Just this year, pancreatic cancer claimed the lives of illusionist Siegfried Fischbauer, former WVU and Florida State Football Coach Bobby Bowden, and actor Willie Garson (who was only 57).
While overall cancer incidence and cancer death rates are declining, the incidence of pancreatic cancer and death rate for pancreatic cancer patients has been increasing. By the end of 2021, an estimated 60,400 Americans will have been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the United States, and more than 48,220 people will have died. Pancreatic cancer has surpassed breast cancer and is now the third leading cause of cancer-related death.
Since I have been volunteering for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, the five-year survival rate has risen from 6 percent to 10 percent. This is not nearly enough. We must all work together with our elected officials to increase federal funding for pancreatic cancer research. This starts by raising awareness.