We are 2 weeks away from the start of November, which is also the start of Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month and the official launch of our Pennies for PanCan campaign. (You’re invited, fire us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details)
I have been actively advocating on behalf of Pancreatic Cancer since March of 2010, with a real official, concentrated effort beginning on June 10th, 2010. It is not an easy road, or a rewarding one. It is full of road blocks, head aches and heart breaks. It has been 83 weeks of constant needling, negotiating, door knocking, phone calling, noise making, prodding, pumping, begging, crying, trying, failing and some successes.
We knew going into this, that it was an uphill battle; that we had our work cut out for us. That’s OK. I’m not afraid of, nor do I back down from a challenge. I enjoy it; relish and revel in it. However being able to see a finish line, or to mark notable accomplishments down goes a long way to team building, to maintaining enthusiasm and passion, and it’s hard.
With Pancreatic Cancer, you lose people. Most of them. Quickly, too. They go from robustly healthy to gone in a matter of weeks sometimes. I have never witnessed anything quite so mind numbingly devastating than the way this disease takes over a body, and rips apart families.
Pancreatic Cancer is responsible for 5% of all cancer related deaths. We lose close to 4000 Canadians every year to this disease and yet it continues to be grossly underfunded (less than 1% of all funding) and overall ignored by businesses and corporations, researchers, foundations, advertising and awareness campaigns.
Very recently, the world lost a visionary. Steve Jobs slipped away, Pancreatic Cancer being responsible for his death. For a few days, this disease was mentioned everywhere, and then nothing. Do we as a society have the attention span of a gnat? What will it take to goad us into action?
Is it the knowledge that Pancreatic Cancer can grow silently and undetected in our bodies for up to 20 years? That we currently have no early detection methods, and few treatment options?
Is it knowing that 94% of those diagnosed will die from the disease before the 5 year mark? 75% of them within the first 6 months?
Is it knowing that statistics surrounding this disease have made no marked improvement over the last 40 years?
Is it knowing that it is indiscriminate in who it attacks? Young, old, man or woman?
We’ve thought long and hard about how to come up with a clever marketing gimmick. Something that grabs your attention. Something quick and simple and perfect.
This is what the pancreas looks like:
The simple truth is, there is no clever marketing, or feel good rally that you can hold. We don’t have the ability to make it marketable. There are no bras for a cause opportunities, or team ta ta chants. You can’t grow a mustache in it’s support, or run a pants on the ground campaign. We don’t have the loud voice of survivors pushing for more funding, because the sad reality is, this disease leaves very few standing to pick up the fight.
It’s all up in your guts, and the truth of it is, it’s ugly, it’s deadly, and it’s ignored.
With November approaching, we are running a month long Pennies for PanCan campaign. We encourage you to get involved, challenge your co-workers, your neighbours, your team mates. Help make change. Make a difference.
We are building our TeamPurple, running a half marathon with a world record breaking attempt. We are going to make a difference, but we need your help, and cannot continue going it alone.
For more information on The FMN Pancreatic Cancer Network, check it out here.
This started out as a 2 person vision, but we need a strong network to see it through. I’d love to hear your feedback, and what motivates you to get behind a cause.