In 2008, when my husband, Patrick Swayze was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, I didn’t know much about the disease, but he did. And he said to me, “I’m a dead man.”
Very quickly I was going to learn the brutal facts of this disease, the facts that were going to change our lives forever. And nearly four years later, these facts have changed little:
- This year approx 44,000 will be diagnosed & 38,000 will die.
- Average life expectancy after diagnosis is 3-6 months
- In 2009, the National Cancer Institute spent a mere 2% of their budget on pancreatic research
- Survival statistics have not changed in over 40 years
- Of the five major cancers it is the #1 killer
Startling information, huh? For us, it was beyond depressing. And even more startling, is to find out that pancreatic cancer research is, and has always been, very severely under funded.
When Patrick was diagnosed though, he was not about to take it “lying down.” Not his style. He and I were going to battle this disease with everything we had. And I saw this man fight with admirable dignity, wisdom, and incredible strength.
His one hope was that he’d live long enough to see a cure. Or, at least a treatment that was more effective in fighting this terribly aggressive disease. There was none. In spite of this, he lasted an amazing two years.
For me, just because he’s gone, doesn’t mean the fight is over! People are out there waiting, and praying, and doing their best to fight this disease just like he did. My heartfelt hope is that others receive the hope and support that Patrick fought so hard for.
But they need more than a wing and a prayer. Let’s give it to them!
On Capitol Hill with (L to R); New Jersey Affiliate Coordinator and pancreatic cancer survivor Michael Weinstein, Representative Leonard Lance (R-NJ), New Jersey Affiliate Media Rep Todd Cohen. No cancer has ever made meaningful progress without federal support. The National Cancer Institute budget for pancreatic cancer is 2% of their annual budget. With ten minutes of your time, you can contact your elected official and let them know you support The Pancreatic Cancer Research and Education Act.