Just finished my yummy fish dinner from our local Pancreatic Cancer fundraiser. (I wrote about that yesterday).
Unlike last week, we visited while it was still light. So we saw an information plaque which gave various facts about pancreatic cancer. One of them was pretty sobering: it said that the state of pancreatic cancer research is approximately where breast cancer research was in the 1930's.
Well, we who were alive in the 1970's know how much the fight against breast cancer has advanced since then.
Circa 1960's, if a woman was suspected of having breast cancer, she went under the knife. Many times they did something called a frozen section biopsy while the woman was under. If this biopsy was positive for cancer, the mastectomy was done then and there. No counseling, no opportunity for the woman to make a treatment decision, no warning, no nothing. The woman woke up minus a breast. Who cared about her feelings?
How grateful we women should be for the amount of progress made since then.
Now it is time to apply that same can-do spirit to pancreatic cancer. Why?
1. There is no early detection method for pancreatic cancer.
2. (partially as a result of #1) this is one of the most deadly forms of cancer there is. We are talking an approximately 4% survival rate after five years.
It is not unknown for people to die less than a month after diagnosis. That is way devastating to the family, never mind the person with the cancer.
3. Not that celebrities should be more important than the rest of us but do you remember: Michael Landon? Jack Benny? Donna Reed? Rex Harrison? Joan Crawford? Fred Gwynne? Luciano Pavarotti? (some of these are more baby boomer icon names.) And of course (recently) Patrick Swayze.
And, the sad but true fact is that it is the loss of celebrities (or the famous) that call people to action. Although, as this article points out, there aren't too many "famous" spokepeople for this illness-they don't survive long enough.
And, if a cause isn't (excuse the expression) "sexy", it doesn't get the money.
Pancreatic cancer certainly doesn't get the money.
We must change that.
(Written in honor of my aunt Trudy, who died from pancreatic cancer in 1974).