Sunday, November 1, 2009

November Is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month

Tie A Purple Ribbon 'Round The Old Oak Tree

My daughter is going through nursing school and, as she is in her last year of school, she's been doing her clinicals at a local hospital. She shared with me that on Friday, a 63 year old man walked into the hospital seeking help as he had jaundinced and didn't know why. After some testing, he was told that he had Stage IV pancreatic cancer and with only 6 months to live. He had no other symptoms aside from the jaundicing. This is all too common of this particular cancer.

Psssst!....can we talk? . . .

Each year, about 42,000 people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and, each year, about 35,000 die from this disease. The vast majority of individuals diagnosed with pancreatic cancer die within three to six months. With a mortality rate somewhere between 96 and 99 percent, precious few survive this dance with death. Pancreatic cancer remains the 4th leading cause of cancer death in the U.S., however it receives much less funding than any other leading cancers.

We have witnessed tremendous advances in some of the other leading cancer mortalities in the past 30 years. Breast cancer, for example, which had a five-year survival rate of 75 percent in 1974, is currently just under 87 percent. Prostate cancer survival moved from 67 to almost 99 percent. Pancreatic cancer, meanwhile, remains stagnant.

Early detection techniques are not a routine consideration in health care. Given its location, any abnormalities in the pancreas are not likely to be found during an annual physical exam. There is no accurate blood test available. It becomes a concern only when symptoms are manifest, usually too late for curative treatment. Another reason for this lack of awareness stems from the high mortality rate of pancreatic cancer. There are so few survivors that the critical mass necessary for mounting a national awareness campaign is severely lacking. It is very difficult for those who have lost loved ones to pick up the mantle and carry on this fight. Most will seek closure and healing. The second distinctive feature of pancreatic cancer is the lack of adequate research funding. Thank God that some choose to continue the battle.

Pancreatic Cancer Action Network ( is a national advocate for this deadly disease. I learn much from this site and gain much needed hope from their Survivor stories. I too am a survivor in that I had early enough symptoms which allowed me to undergo a surgery that may end up being my cure. I can hope, anyway. Or, at least, I was blessed with more time...other's aren't so lucky. The people at are doing all they can to bring awareness to pancreatic cancer but they can't do it alone. With November being Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month, perhaps you may want to go to to see what you can do to help. You can go here to watch a very short public service announcement video to learn more. And, even if you don't look good in purple, maybe you could wear a small amount this month :-)

I'm thankful for the additional time I've been given and I live it one day at a time . . .

Aroma Fields Candles & Bath


Jodie said...

I'm glad you got the help you needed early enough. How awful that there are few easily detectable symptoms.

Medical Information said...

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