November is the month of Thanksgiving and it is also Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month. While I’ll never give thanks for the disease that claimed the life of my father, Norman Cordeiro of Dartmouth, there is still much to be thankful for in the fight against pancreatic cancer. While the statistics are still grim, there has been a slow increase in the survival rate since the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network was established.
Pancreatic cancer is the third deadliest major cancer in America having recently surpassed breast cancer. The disease is expected to pass colorectal cancer by 2020 to become the second deadliest cancer in the United States. This year it is estimated that 53,070 Americans will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and 41,780 will die from the disease. Pancreatic cancer’s five-year survival rate is just 8 percent, and it is the only major cancer with a single digit survival rate. Like my dad, 71 percent of those diagnosed will die within their first year.
November was packed with activities that shined a purple light on pancreatic cancer, and it’s important that our neighbors take note of our community efforts to change the course of this disease.
PurpleLight Boston 2016 was held in October as a lead-in event for Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month. The luminaria ceremony sought to honor, inspire and remember all those who have been touched by this terrible disease. The event was hosted by the Boston affiliate of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.
A “Purple Party for Pancreatic Cancer Awareness” was a night of food, camaraderie and great music. The free event featured musical acts (the Brethren Order of the North East Sea — BONES — and the King’s Busketeers, as well as DJ Michael Paolucci), with food by the Mad House Grill and beverages by the Knights. Representatives from both the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network of Massachusetts (ACS CAN MA) were on hand to answer any questions and to tell their personal stories. Funds collected via free will donation were donated to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.
U. S. Rep. Bill Keating of the 9th Congressional District pledged to join the bipartisan and bicameral Congressional Caucus on the Deadliest Cancers on Nov. 15. The Boston Affiliate of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network met with a staff member of Rep. Keating’s on June 21 during the organization’s Advocacy Day at Capitol Hill asking to join the Caucus. The Congressional Caucus on the Deadliest Cancers raises awareness about the deadliest forms of cancer, such as pancreatic cancer, and advocates for research funding and other measures to increase survival rates for these cancers.
The Boston Affiliate of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network was invited to meet with Gov. Charlie Baker in his ceremonial State House office on Nov. 17, World Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Day, as the governor signed a proclamation declaring that date Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Day. Several Massachusetts landmarks were illuminated with purple to mark the occasion.
The Dartmouth Police Department honored Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month and World Pancreatic Cancer Day on their Facebook page. WBSM-AM, particularly Phil Paleologos, helped to promote the Purple Party and posted photos of the event on their Facebook page.
There is one event left to keep your eye on. The local Boston Affiliate will be meeting with the governor’s staff at the State House on Dec. 2, to discuss the appointment of volunteers to the Special Commission to Study Pancreatic Cancer in Mass. I have been appointed as the designee of House Minority Leader Brad Jones of North Reading.
The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network’s battle cry in the war against pancreatic cancer is “Wage Hope!” That war isn’t confined to the month of November as those touched by the disease fight every day of every month throughout the year. We won’t stop fighting until we’ve conquered pancreatic cancer! Will you join us? To learn more, visit www.pancan.org.
Below are photos taken of Governor Charlie Baker meeting with volunteers from PanCAN Boston and signing the proclamation honoring November 17, 2016 as Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Day in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.