Last month, my son and I were part of a delegation of 650 family members, survivors, and friends across the country who joined forces last month to advocate before their Members of Congress for the Pancreatic Cancer Research & Education Act.
We went to D.C. in person to talk about limited treatment options, lack of research on early detection and a low five-year survival rate of only six percent. That’s right – 94% die from pancreatic cancer within the first five years. It is the 4th leading cancer killer in the United States and the least funded among the top five cancers.
My mother passed away from pancreatic cancer a short three and a half months after her initial diagnosis. She was 80 years old. Our family did not have a history with the disease. I live in California and my mother lived in Upstate New York, so I spent a good 65% of my time back East during the snowiest winter of 2011 caring for Mom.
Mom’s story was very much like those other families we have met, yet there are two stories I can cite of Californians who passed away at age 30 and age 47. That’s too young. One was an athlete at CAL; the other an active Mom. It is their sad stories and limited quality of life that lead me to remain active in helping to move the bill in this Congress.
If you know anyone who has the disease, it is scary and most often not curable by current treatment methods. In fact, our government and researchers are spending money on a treatment that doesn’t work rather than focusing on technology and innovation that could yield early detection and better treatments.
We had the opportunity to meet personally with U.S. House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, Rep. Peter King of New York, and Rep. Jeff Denham of California, and U.S. Senator Mike Lee of Utah. We also met with staff representatives for U.S. Congressional Reps Darrell Issa (R-CA), Mary Bono Mack (R-CA), Dan Lungren (R-CA), Mike Grimm (R-NY), and Sean Duffy (R-WI). The picture here shows us with Diane Peranich of Half Moon Bay, California and national spokeswoman Lisa Niemi Swayze, the wife of actor Patrick Swayze, who so courageously fought the disease.
There are 258 co-sponsors in the U.S. House of H.R. 733 and 55 co-sponsors in the U.S. Senate of the companion bill, S. 362. This is phenomenally good support but in a year like this with a Presidential election, tight debt ceiling requirements and and funding constraints, it’s difficult to get anything passed, which is a shame considering how under- funded this disease is.
You can help pass the bill by connecting with your Member of Congress. All the information you need is here.