MY View: Urge Officials to Promote Awareness of Pancreatic Cancer

Here is something that is, if not a bit of a first, then it is something that I do not do very often and that is engage in a completely, totally, utterly, and absolutely non-partisan campaign — and yes, during the last few weeks of this election cycle!

I have been volunteering for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN) through their PanCAN Boston affiliate ( &  The reasons why aren’t much of a secret, and many of you already know it, and they’re briefly discussed below, my father was rushed into the hospital the day after our MassGOP State Convention, indeed I was just leaving my hotel when I got the news, and he passed away of pancreatic cancer on March 30.

Since then I went on to participate in PurpleStride Boston 2014, a charity walk around the Boston Common, on August 24.  Thanks to the generosity of many who read RMG (and yes, it was non-partisan — plenty of Democrats dug deep to donate and a whole boatload of Republicans and unenrolled, far more individuals than I ever expected) I smashed my personal fundraising goal and topped out at $2,600.  The mantra of PurpleStride, which takes place all across the country at various dates during the year, is “pancreatic cancer: Know it! Fight it! End it!“.  Many of you may have seen my photos from the event on Facebook.

The next PanCAN Boston event is PurpleLight Boston 2014 and it will also be at the Boston Common (the Parkman Bandstand next to Tremont Street) on Sunday, October 26 at 5:00 pm.  That will be 1 year & 2 days after my Dad’s Whipple surgery at MGH.  PurpleLight is an event to “Honor. Inspire. Remember“.  If you happen to wander by that way, and everyone is certainly invited, I’ll be there with my purple glow stick awaiting to light it when my Dad’s name is read aloud in memoriam.  To learn more about PurpleLight Boston 2014 please see  If you are fighting pancreatic cancer, if you’re a survivor, or if you’re a friend/family/caretaker of someone with pancreatic cancer then I urge you to attend PurpleLight Boston 2014.  Registration is entirely free and necessary so that PanCAN Boston has enough purple glow sticks for you!  🙂  

However, for the past several weeks I have been involved with what PanCAN Boston calls its “Proclamation Project”.  We are attempting to reach out to all 351 cities & towns across Massachusetts in an attempt to have as many as possible pass a resolution proclaiming November 2014 as “Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month”.  To that end, I spent my day yesterday emailing all the municipalities in Bristol, Plymouth, Barnstable, Dukes, and Nantucket Counties with an introduction to the Proclamation Project and PanCAN’s recommended wording for the resolution.  Other volunteers are reaching out to the remaining municipalities in other counties, although I may join them in that outreach as well.

I have already received some very positive responses!

Below, is the text of an opinion piece that was published in today’s edition of the Standard-Times of New Bedford (www.SouthCoastToday).  The piece was titled “Your View: Urge officials to promote awareness of pancreatic cancer“.

Whatever your party registration or ideological persuasion, I hope — and I ask — that you please reach out and urge your local municipal officials to please proclaim November 2014 as Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month.

As a volunteer for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN), I write to issue a call to action to the elected leaders of each and every city and town throughout SouthCoast.

I implore our city councils and boards of selectmen to pass a resolution in every municipality proclaiming that November shall be “Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month.” This municipal action would align our communities with World Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Day on Nov. 13.

There are an estimated 39,590 Americans who will die of pancreatic cancer in 2014, approximately 920 of whom live in Massachusetts. In 2014, pancreatic cancer will afflict more than 46,420 Americans, 73 percent of whom will die within one year of their diagnosis, and 94 percent of whom will die within five years of diagnosis.

My father, Norman Cordeiro, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer on Sept. 18, 2013, and prior to then the disease was something about which I had really only heard of, but it had never directly affected me or my family. Unfortunately, despite an initial hopeful diagnosis, his condition was different, and much worse, than had been expected. My father’s surgeon told me that my dad had an estimate of only six months to live. Norman Cordeiro passed away from pancreatic cancer on March 30.

To date, pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the United States, and it is the only major cancer with a five-year relative survival rate in the single digits, at just 6 percent. Furthermore, the incidence and death rate for pancreatic cancer are increasing, and pancreatic cancer is anticipated to move from the fourth to the second leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States by 2020.

We need your help to shine a spotlight on this disease and finally make progress in developing treatments and early detection tools. By issuing a proclamation supporting the observance of November as Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month, our local elected officials will help us to raise awareness in our communities.

The process of notifying our area elected officials has begun, and if you have not yet been contacted by either PanCAN or me, then you soon will be. I have already received favorable responses from the New Bedford City Council and the Dartmouth Select Board, both of which have placed our resolutions on their upcoming agendas. New Bedford’s meeting falls upon World Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Day.

As PanCAN says, together we can “Know it! Fight it! End it!” and I believe that a crucial part of that process is local passage of PanCAN’s resolution proclaiming November as Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month so that we may “Honor. Inspire. Remember.”


Brock N. Cordeiro lives in Dartmouth.

October 13, 2014 12:00 AM…

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