Monday, August 20, 2007

Begging for help...

I am not very good at begging. In fact, it's very hard for me to even ask for help. What I will do though, is ask you to read this link. If you feel like writing, please do. If you don't, please forward this to those you think might read it and maybe they'll respond. Getting the word out about this cancer has become important to me. I realize that there are over 200 different types of cancer. I realize that it's a rare form and not many people will have to deal with it or even know anyone that deals with it. If we can just get the word out though, maybe, just maybe, down the road someone will have read/heard about it and ask their doctor. Maybe they will ask their doctor about their not so normal symptoms and ask if it might be. Or maybe they'll remember a distant /not so distant relative that had it and ask for the CA 19-9 and a CT Scan. And maybe that person will find out before it's Stage IV B, when it's too late for surgery. Or maybe someone's child will have heard about this and go into cancer research. And maybe that research will benefit not just pancreatic cancer, but all cancers.

Here's my letter:

As someone who has been touched by pancreatic cancer, I am deeply concerned that it has remained the deadliest cancer and that there are currently no early detection tools or prevention methods and few effective treatments for this disease. The House passed Labor, Health and Human Services and Education (Labor-HHS) Appropriations bill provides a mere 1.9% increase for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and an even more dismal 1.5% increase for the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Along with thousands of other cancer advocates, I am requesting a 6.7% increase for the NIH and NCI.

The Senate Committee version of the bill is slightly better than that passed by the House, but still leaves cancer research, and particularly pancreatic cancer research, under-funded. As your constituent, I am asking for your help to address this issue. Please let your leadership know that the current funding levels for the NIH and NCI are too low and that cancer research needs to be a higher priority in the final Labor-HHS bill.

Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer related death. An estimated 37,170 Americans will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer this year and 75% of them will die within the first 3-6 months of their diagnosis because there are currently no early detection tests and no effective treatments for this disease. Currently, only 5% of patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer survive more than 5 years. It is unlikely that the NIH and NCI will be able to make the scientific breakthroughs that are needed if funding is not increased.

I understand that there are many decisions that you face everyday. However, as my sister and I face losing my mother to pancreatic cancer, I beg of you to please, please see that this funding is available. I don't know if you've been touched personally by cancer. For us, we went from thinking Mother had a stomach/gallstone issue to knowing she has Stage IVB Pancreatic Cancer with mets to the liver within a week. One week. That week changed our lives forever. Pancreatic cancer is aggressive and sneaky. By the time symptoms show up, it is most likely at stage IV. The strong chemo she is on is buying us time. Time to tell each other we love, we forgive and thank you. That chemo is costing us twice as much as it would if we were to get it from Canada or another country. I realize that this request is not about how much the drugs cost, but it is something that needs to be brought to your attention. Not only do patients have to deal with the fact that their disease is life ending, the drugs they are on are a "wait and see" approach. Not enough research has been done to find the best chemos for pancreatic cancer. When you're looking at a life span after diagnosis of 3-6 months without treatment, maybe 11 months with, there is not enough time to "wait and see."

I realize that this funding will not arrive in time to save my Mother. Only God can do that at this point. Perhaps though, this funding will help me or my sister or my son and daughter down the road. Perhaps, this funding will save our lives and those family members who are going through what we are.

Should you have any questions about what it's like to deal with pancreatic cancer, please feel free to email me.

As your constituent, I hope that I can count on you to speak with your leadership and tell them to make cancer research a higher priority in the final Labor-HHS bill. Please add your support to this fight and help ensure that pancreatic cancer research can move forward.

Thank you,

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