Waging Hope: What You Need To Know, And Can Do, About Pancreatic Cancer

November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month. The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network has a goal of doubling survival by 2020 (it currently has only a 9 percent 5-year survival rate).

Texas Congressman, Member of the House Foreign Affairs and House Intelligence Committees.

A dear college friend of mine, Erin, has been personally touched by pancreatic cancer. I want to share with you what you need to know – and can do – about this horrible disease from her first-hand experience, from prevention to awareness to advocacy.

“One of the saddest and most maddening things about pancreatic cancer is how hard it is to detect and by the time it is detected, patients are already in the palliative care phase of treatment. This horrific disease is grossly underfunded and because of that, research is limited as well.”

In response, Erin travels from Kansas City to DC to meet with Congress for National Pancreatic Cancer Advocacy Day. Volunteers from every major city in the nation gather to lobby Congress for funds geared towards pancreatic cancer research. Specifically, they ask Congress to support increased funding for the National Institute of Health (NIH) and National Cancer Institute (NCI) through their fiscal year budgets. They ask that Congress supports pancreatic cancer research specifically with the Department of Defense research programs because they target more aggressive research grants. These ambassadors also ask Congress to join the Deadliest Cancers Caucus; and the biggest push is to bring awareness about pancreatic cancer as it’s slated to be the deadliest cancer by 2020…less than 2 years away. The past 3 years Congress has voted to increase funding by 30 percent, and it’s making a difference.

Delegation of advocates from Kansas City travelling to DC to lobby Congress for more funding for pancreatic cancer research.

What you need to know about pancreatic cancer, and what you can do:

  1. Know the symptoms. With no early detection methods for pancreatic cancer, knowing the signs of the disease can lead to earlier diagnosis and better outcomes: Start the quiz
  2. Asses your risk: Take the test (my results were “normal risk” – the test took less than 5 minutes)
  3. The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCan) is an excellent resource for anyone at high risk for this disease or is diagnosed already.
  4. Congress DOES listen! Get involved and ask our senators and representatives to help. Email them asking to increase federal funding for pancreatic cancer research.
  5. Help others become more aware using #PANCaware on your social media networks
  6. Get involved through a walk/run, volunteering, advocacy, fundraising, emailing your state representatives, fundraising/donating (makes a great Christmas/holiday gift). And for those of us who like to shop for a cause, go purple.

To all of those fighting cancer, to the ambassadors and care givers, nurses, doctors and medical staff, to Congress and researchers, to those who donate their time and money, we are with you and thank you.

This post was written in honor and memory of Erin’s mother-in-law, Marilyn Dedrickson who passed away from pancreatic cancer on June 5, 2016.

Erin and her family and friends took part in a local race to race awareness for pancreatic cancer.


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