In October each year, we are surrounded by pink for Breast Cancer Awareness. The breast cancer advocates have done an amazing job of advocating for their cause, thus leading to early diagnosis and screening.
I’ve been advocating for pancreatic cancer awareness since October 2007. I can even tell you the exact day, Oct. 4, 2007, the day that my younger brother passed away from pancreatic cancer. Until he was diagnosed just 18 months earlier, all I knew about cancer was the pink ribbon, because cancer didn’t apply to me.
When someone says to me, “I don’t know anyone with pancreatic cancer,” I say, “Until March 2006, neither did I.” You never know when pancreatic cancer will affect your family.
This is the type of cancer that claimed the lives of actors Patrick Swayze and Michael Landon, Apple Founder Steve Jobs, and the “Queen of Soul,” Aretha Franklin. Of course, most people have heard about “Jeopardy” Host, Alex Trebek being diagnosed earlier this year.
While overall cancer incidence and cancer death rates have been decreasing, the number of new pancreatic cancer cases in the United States has been projected to increase by 55% between now and 2030. As of this date, pancreatic cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death, and it is expected to be the second leading cause around 2025.
November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month, and it would be wonderful if we could see just half the purple in November as pink in October. Specifically, Thursday, Nov. 21 is World Pancreatic Cancer Day sponsored by the World Pancreatic Cancer Coalition.
Since I have been volunteering for PanCAN, the 5-year survival rate has risen from 6 percent to 9 percent. This is not enough! We must all work together and with our elected officials to increase federal funding for pancreatic cancer research. This starts by raising awareness – even if it’s just wearing purple on one day! I’m asking everyone who reads this to learn more about pancreatic cancer: go to www.pancan.org , and remember wear purple on Thursday, Nov. 21.