December 14th, 2016 By Jack Morton
In November 2015, my dad passed away after a three-year battle with stage IV pancreatic cancer. Coincidentally, November is also National Pancreatic Cancer Awareness month, and November 17th marked the third annual World Pancreatic Cancer Day (WPDC).
Even though pancreatic cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States, and even though this year alone it is estimated that more than 53,000 Americans will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer (and more than 41,000 will die of it), a worldwide survey found that 60% of people know “almost nothing” about pancreatic cancer.
[important]60% of people know “almost nothing” about pancreatic cancer.[/important]
The goal of WPCD is to close that gap, raise awareness, and elevate the global conversation. In addition to being personally impacted by this disease, these dismal statistics are why I advocate for pancreatic cancer patients and spread awareness on a daily basis, why I volunteer with the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and why I brought my cause to Jack Boston.
The day before WPCD, every Jack Boston employee found two bags of purple candy on their desk. The first was for them – a reminder (read: bribe) for people to wear purple the following day for WPCD. The second bag came with instructions to give to someone else outside of the office to continue spreading awareness. And because I read somewhere once that candy probably cures cancer. Here’s a handy flow chart of how I envisioned this working:
I handed out a total of 140 bags of candy, half of which were intended to spread beyond our Jack circle. In one instance, a Jack employee gave her second bag to her Uber driver, which sparked an in-depth conversation about the hard-to-detect early warning signs and genetic predispositions. So now if her Uber driver, Joe, ever experiences unexplained weight loss, yellowing of the skin and eyes or unexplained lower back pain, he could potentially catch his tumor early enough to be treated.
OK, so at the end of the day, candy may not actually cure cancer. But Jack Boston was able to expand the network of people who are aware of pancreatic cancer. And that truly is the first step in finding a cure.
1Statistic from American Cancer Society 03/14/2016
Pancreatic cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related death in the U.S. and the 7th most common cause of cancer-related death in men and women across the world. With a survival rate in the single digits, it is one of the only major cancers whose death rates are increasing in the U.S. while death rates are declining for most other cancers.
Do you know someone diagnosed with pancreatic cancer or are you interested in volunteering? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Learn more about the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network: www.pancan.org