Spread awareness for pancreatic cancer

How can YOU help? Wear purple on Friday, Nov. 13. Take a picture of yourself wearing purple and then share it on social media, using hashtags #WPCD and #WageHope.

While pancreatic cancer is the fourth-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S. and has one of the lowest survival rates according to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PCAN), it is more than just a statistic to people like TV/video/radio teacher Mrs. Robinson.

Pancreatic Cancer
Art by Melina Illinger

“I had heard of pancreatic cancer,” Robinson said, “but I didn’t know anything about it. It’s very hard to diagnose, so by the time my mother was told that she had it, she was already terminally ill. She died five weeks later.”

Within the LHS community alone, at least three teachers and their families, including the Robinsons, have experienced the loss of a loved one due to this cancer. That’s why people like Robinson hope that building awareness about the statistics and poor prognosis is a “step in the right direction.”

“Hopefully it will get the same kind of attention that breast cancer has gotten over the years,” Robinson said. “Maybe one day pancreatic cancer won’t be a death sentence.”

Pancreatic cancer is such a lethal disease because it is hard to detect in its early stages. The pancreas is a small organ responsible for digestion and blood sugar regulation and works at a rapid pace. Once it becomes infected with cancer cells, the cancer advances quickly without producing many symptoms.

As the disease progresses, the symptoms become much more apparent and severe including jaundice, abdominal and back pain, new-onset diabetes, weight loss and loss of appetite, fatigue, weakness, digestive difficulties, and depression. At this stage of the cancer, there are very few options for treatment and many people diagnosed at this stage die shortly after.

“There is a push to get more funding devoted to pancreatic cancer research,” Robinson said, “especially in the area of early detection because it is rare that the cancer is found before it has already spread to other organs.”

There are plenty of local events and opportunities to get involved in the fight against pancreatic cancer. Visit https://www.pancan.org/ for more information about how to volunteer, donate money, or share your story.