If you know me, you know that I research everything. It makes me feel like I’m doing something constructive when I don’t have any idea how to help the situation. With my grandmother’s illness it was different. Once I knew she had pancreatic cancer, I just wanted to bury my head and pretend everything was okay. Even when her symptoms got scary, I didn’t want to know anything beyond how we could make her comfortable.
Shortly after my grandmother’s passing, I finally gave in to my need to research. A few hours later, I was left with more questions than answers. There are no proven ways to prevent pancreatic cancer, no effective early screening methods or treatments. Only 2% of the National Cancer Institute’s $5 million budget is allocated to pancreatic cancer research. However, it is the fourth leading cause of cancer deaths in the US, and is the only cancer whose 5 year survival rate remains in the single digits. 74% of these patients will die within a year of diagnosis, 94% within five years. According the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network: “From a scientific research perspective, pancreatic cancer is where breast cancer was in the 1930s.”
Almost immediately I contacted someone at the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network about volunteer opportunities in my community. Since then, I’ve been on a roll. Shy little old me had November declared Pancreatic Cancer Awareness month in my town, is working on organizing fundraising events at her old high school, and was asked to consider becoming the Affiliate Coordinator for the state.