Letter: Wear purple for pancreatic cancer awareness
Break out the purple! November is National Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month. I hope everyone takes the time to learn about this devastating cancer in hopes to raise awareness.
People aren’t as knowledgeable about pancreatic cancer as breast, lung or prostate cancer, but it is just as debilitating a disease. Pancreatic cancer affects the pancreas, a small gland that lies behind the stomach and in front of your spine. Your pancreas is responsible for producing digestive juices that help break down food and also for producing hormones that control blood sugar.
Pancreatic cancer is a common cancer. However, it is very difficult to detect early and even more difficult to treat. The symptoms presented by pancreatic cancer are often very similar to that of many other illnesses, and they don’t always show until the disease has progressed to an advanced stage.
A few ugly facts about pancreatic cancer:
—Pancreatic cancer has the lowest survival rate of all the leading cancers;
—Most people diagnosed with Stage IV pancreatic cancer will die within the first year;
—There is no cure and no early detection for pancreatic cancer;
—Approximately 44,000 people will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer this year;
—Pancreatic cancer receives only 2 percent of federal funding for cancer research;
—By 2020, possibly 2015, pancreatic cancer will be the second cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S.;
—A number of well-known people have died from the disease including, most recently, Apple founder Steve Jobs, actors Patrick Swayze and Michael (Little Joe) Landon, Luciano Pavarotti and Fred Gwynne (best known for his role on the television series "The Munsters"). Joan Crawford died of a heart attack while battling pancreatic cancer. Jack Benny, Donna Reed, musical composer Henry Mancini, Count Basie … and the list continues to grow. Of course, the one that touches my heart the most was my very own beloved father, Johnny Cook of Gloucester;
—The five-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer is just 6 percent and has remained in the single digits for decades. So it is imperative that people become aware of this devastating disease and catch it in its early stages. We must give people a fighting chance to win this battle.
Purple is the color of pancreatic cancer awareness. So I urge everyone to wear their purple in November and spread pancreatic cancer awareness to improve survival rates. Do it for someone you love. Early detection gives them a fighting chance.
Thank you for reading and I hope to see a nation colored purple for the month of November.
Tonya C. Jones