November is Pancreatic Awareness Month and today marks the very first World Pancreatic Cancer Day. While I don’t usually take advantage of owning an online publication, today I am. Cancer is bad – no, it’s worse. It’s the evilest kind of illness because they still have not found a cure and, if diagnosed too late, a person can lose their life within months or even days. There are some cancers that are worse than others, and pancreatic cancer is one of those. So today, I choose to post this in hopes of educating people about this deadly cancer that goes unnoticed all too often.
Cancer has never been prominent in my, or my family’s, life so I do consider myself one of the lucky ones. But about two and a half years ago, I will never forget the day that my boyfriend called me to tell me his father had just been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and he had to leave for Lebanon as the doctors didn’t know how much time he had left. My heart hit the floor with a very loud thump. Just six months later, one of my View the Vibe team members came into the office and told me the same thing – his father had Stage 4 pancreatic cancer and doctors had given him months to live. Suddenly, this disease became very prominent in my sphere and, as with any illness of this nature, the feeling of helplessness became overwhelming. So when that happens, I turn to education.
What I learned was sad and shocking – it made me realize that pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest. First, it has the lowest survival rate — a fact that has not changed in 40 years. It’s a cancer that is almost always diagnosed too late, and 80% of patients have an average life expectancy of four to six months. Hundreds of people lose their lives daily to pancreatic cancer. Worst of all, despite knowing these horrific facts, less than 2% of cancer research funding goes towards finding a cure for this disease, making it the fourth leading cause of all cancer-related deaths. As a Canadian, it is embarrassing to discover that our awareness of this variety is exceptionally low compared to other cancers. This can change. You don’t have to wait until someone close to you is diagnosed.
My boyfriend lost his father a little over one year ago, as did my former co-worker. Pancreatic cancer kills; it kills so fast, people should take the time to educate themselves, help raise awareness, and support foundations like Pancreatic Cancer Canada (who have initiated World Pancreatic Cancer Day, the Purple Lights Campaign, and Pansies for Pancreatic Cancer).
The Purple Lights campaign is happening all through November, and encourages people to buy purple lights and a related sign from the PCC Purple Shop to shine in their homes throughout the month to raise awareness of pancreatic cancer in their neighbourhoods. Tonight, if you are in downtown Toronto, look up to the CN Tower to see it shining bright purple to show its support.
Having been part of a family who lost their father, I leave you with a quote from Sara Hbeichi, one of my boyfriend’s three sisters, who is actively raising awareness and funds so that those living with it can enjoy a little extra time with their loved ones and pancreatic cancer doesn’t remain one of the world’s deadliest cancers.
“Nader Hbeichi struggled with pancreatic cancer for two years before he passed away, and in this time he was able to cherish the familial bonding that took place in those months. This time afforded his daughter and son several opportunities to travel across an ocean in hopes of reminding him just how amazing his life has been and how much he has accomplished. Perhaps these are the moments that pancreatic cancer patients need to enable them to fight and live for the future. Anything we can do to prolong or enrich this time for patients and families is worth every dollar spent as it was for Rola, Rana, Sarah and Ayman. Please donate generously to www.pancreaticcancercanada.com and the various organizations across the world that provide resources to families and patients affected by cancer.”
World Pancreatic Cancer Day is today. Please help us bring awareness to this disease. Post it, tweet it, share it, and help those affected stop going unnoticed.