Hey! Did you know November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month? I probably should have said something earlier in the month, but I didn’t.
Pancreatic cancer is one of the more rare forms of cancer. Thankfully this is the case, as it’s also one of the deadliest. There’s currently no standard screening method for detecting pancreatic cancer in its early stages, so it usually goes undetected until it’s too late. I’m not going to throw around a lot of statistics because there are so many different ways to slice and dice the numbers. In a nutshell, the survival rate for those diagnosed with pancreatic cancer is very, very low. Even in cases where the cancer is operable (the minority of cases), the survival rate is very, very low.
I feel like I need to harp about this issue once in a while because it seems like the vast majority of people really know next to nothing about this disease. Research into pancreatic cancer doesn’t get a lot of funding next to a lot of other more high profile diseases; according to PanCan, it gets the least amount of funding of any cancer. You’ll never see a store full of purple PanCan branded items, from vacuum cleaners to packets of yeast.
Brad’s father (an otherwise incredibly healthy, active, ex-smoker 57-year old with no other health issues) was diagnosed with operable stage 1 pancreatic cancer in October of 2004. Despite a successful surgery, chemo, radiation, and the whole nine yards, he only lived for nine months. Even someone with a good prognosis has very little chance, when it comes to this disease. Someday maybe I’ll be able to talk here about what it was like to live through that, to be there for every stage, and to even be there the night he died, but I still can’t do that. All I can do is try to draw attention to this issue once or twice a year in the hope that every little bit of awareness will slowly build up to help find ways of detecting and treating this cancer so that other people will be able to have more hope.
Donation form for PanCan, an organization dedicated to raising awareness and funding for pancreatic cancer research (see How will my donation be spent?)