“Who are the Purple People?”

pietrina signWhy is it important to spread awareness when you don’t know anyone with Pancreatic Cancer? Because at one point, neither did I.

November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month. November 13th is World Pancreatic Cancer Day. A day to spread awareness and it doesn’t cost a thing!

Blue used to be my favorite color. I wanted cobalt blue for my bridesmaids at my wedding, but ended up with amethyst. Who would have known all these years later I would become one of the “Purple People.” It’s a club that you don’t want to join.

When my father was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer and died a few short weeks later, I was crushed. What do you do when the person who listened to your hopes and dreams, who always supported you and your choices in life, is taken within weeks of diagnosis? For me, I spent days, weeks, months, wondering if there was something I could have done, and moreover, how long was this cancer inside him before being diagnosed? I eventually learned and accepted that it wasn’t my fault.

My story, like many others in this “purple club” is the common denominator; 5-year survival rate of just scarcely 7%, limited treatment options, barely a handful of FDA approved drugs, and no early detection is the norm with pancreatic cancer. Resources are slim. Funding is slow, progress is even slower; which is why I have become one of the “Purple People”. Everyone sees and knows what the color pink represents, and some have even referred to October as “Pinktober.”  Nothing against breast cancer and those battling (I lost my mother to breast cancer in 1978). In our defense, the survival rates for most other cancers have vastly improved over the years, while pancreatic cancer has had only a 1 % increase in the last decade. In 2015, an estimated 48,960 people will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the United States, and approximately 40,560 will die from the disease. Sure, we have made steps to improve the odds, but not nearly enough to change the course of this cancer. In January 2013, President Obama passed “The Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act,” an important step toward improving pancreatic cancer survival. It calls on the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to develop scientific frameworks that will help provide the strategic direction and guidance needed to make true progress against recalcitrant or deadly cancers.

As volunteers and the voice for those who have passed and those still fighting, it is our responsibility to spread awareness. Being involved with the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network has allowed me to be part of a group that is driven and motivated toward the same goal – Doubling the survival rate by 2020. My part is clear, awareness and education is the key to change. The more people are aware, the more interested they become. They want to be part of the change. They see the momentum and want to see statistics change. We have to be the advocates for awareness. With enough people focused and driven, my hope is that no daughter will have to heaprod revr that there is no hope like I did.

Our signature awareness event is in less than a week. If you find yourself inclined to help, please join us.  You can register until midnight November 6th, although too late for a t-shirt, it’s not too late to spread awareness. Most of us who register a team end up working the event because we don’t have enough survivors to fill all the slots. This gives me a chance to educate the community on the disease and yes, keep spreading awareness.



Nov. 8th 5K Run & Family-friendly Walk, Parsippany, NJ



Help spread awareness & sport some new clothes



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– See more on my other blog post:  From Darkness to Light