On July 25th I lost a dear friend and nurse colleague to the dreaded disease just four months shy of her 50th birthday; nearly a year following the horrific diagnosis. Determined to beat the odds, she learned everything she could about the latest treatments, remained positive, and trudged ahead full force.
She knew the future was bleak, but she was determined to beat the odds. She didn't outlive other survivors, she didn't beat the odds, but she lived each day to the fullest, and won the battle by fighting the deadly disease on her terms with dignity and grace.
More than 45,000 Americans will be faced with the diagnosis of pancreatic this year; only 23% of those people will survive 1 year...only 4% will survive five years.
Understanding pancreatic cancer
- Family history
- Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas)
Many other possible risk factors are under active study. For example, researchers are studying whether a diet high in fat (especially animal fat) or heavy drinking of alcoholic beverages may increase the risk of pancreatic cancer. Another area of active research is whether certain genes increase the risk of disease.
In the early stages, pancreatic cancer doesn't cause symptoms. As the cancer grows, the patient may notice one or more of the following:
- Dark urine, pale stools, and yellow skin and eyes
- Pain in the upper abdomen
- Pain the the middle of the back that doesn't go away with a change in position
- Nausea and vomiting
- Stools that float in the toilet
Advanced cancer may cause weakness, tiredness, loss of appetite or feelings of fullness, and unexplained weight loss. People who experience these symptoms should seek medical care.
Pancreatic cancer is often overlooked; it doesn't get the same attention as breast , colon, and prostate cancer; but its a deadly disease that needs attention. During this month of pancreatic awareness, I challenge you to become informed and help spread the word so this deadly disease gets the attention and funding its victims so desperately need!