O P I N I O N
To the Editor:
As a volunteer for the Boston Affiliate of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN), I’m helping to bring awareness as November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month, and November 16th is World Pancreatic Cancer Day.
PanCAN’s mission is to take action to improve the lives of everyone impacted by pancreatic cancer by advancing scientific research, building community, sharing knowledge, and advocating for patients. This year’s message is to “Change the Course” through awareness and early detection by recognizing the risks and symptoms and advocating for your health.
My dad passed away in 2021 from a four-year battle with pancreatic cancer. He was a Vietnam veteran turned businessman who left a successful career in NYC to move to NH and spend more time with the family. My brothers and I were lucky to grow up with him as our sports coach, and he dedicated his time to building a new community center in Wilmot and starting a lacrosse program at the Outing Club of NH. He was always in excellent health and had no history of cancer, but he was with me in 2017 while I was stationed in San Diego when I noticed something was off after he declined a beer and mentioned some stomach pain. A month later, he told me on the phone that he had been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and given six months to live.
Through his strong spirit and the help and support of friends and family, doctors, and PanCAN, we were lucky to spend four more years with him. Two months before he passed away, he started a new immunotherapy treatment identified by PanCAN, but unfortunately, the cancer had returned in force before it had time to kick in. We all benefited immensely through PanCAN, and I want to give back to help future patients and their families. The family started the Bub Strong Foundation, and we had our third annual golf scramble, pig roast, and lacrosse tournament last July to raise over $10,000 for the Outing Club in New London, PanCAN, and veterans organizations.
Pancreatic cancer has affected notable figures such as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Alex Trebeck, and the Honorable John Lewis. With a five-year survival rate of just 12 percent, it is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States, with an estimated 320 deaths projected in New Hampshire this year. Symptoms of pancreatic cancer are often vague and not discovered until it has progressed. Diagnosing the disease early on can dramatically improve survival, but currently, there is no early detection test.
Governor Sununu issued a proclamation declaring November Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month, and the Hotel Concord and the Portsmouth Memorial Bridge will be illuminated purple on November 16th. I hope you will join us this month in raising awareness.