Two Minnesotans Fight to Change Pancreatic Cancer Statistics

Updated: 11/16/2012 7:46 PM KSTP.com By: Ellen McNamara

Many people are wearing purple today, and they are hoping to raise awareness about pancreatic cancer.

Sadly, a pancreatic cancer diagnosis is a death sentence.

Three fourths of people who are diagnosed will die from the disease.

The long term survival rate of 6% has not changed much in the last 40 years.

However, two Minnesotans are hoping to change the statistics.

Nancy Marian and Brenda Coleman hope by the year 2020, the survival rate can double.

Right now more than 43,000 people in the United States will be diagnosed and more than 37,000 will die.

Marian and Coleman say we can do better.

"A lot of people experience a diagnosis and loss of life within a matter of weeks or months," Coleman said.

"We need to let people know that the survival rate is unacceptable," Marian said.

The two woman are part of the Twin Cities group of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.

The cause is personal to them.

Coleman is one of the few survivors.

Marian's mom did not survive.

"She was given a chance to have a procedure, but even with that procedure, she was given a 2% survival rate," Marian said.

20 years later, Marian's son got the diagnosis. He lived.

"I was surprised that they're hadn't really been any advancements in the treatment protocols," Marian said.

Both women say treatment can only improve if the federal funding improves.

We receive only 2% of the annual national cancer institutes budget for the year," Coleman said.

If more people wear purple and talk about the startling statistics, the number of survivors will rise.

Something that makes the cancer difficult to detect, is that many symptoms are vague.

Coleman had stomach pain, but she also had a feeling that something was not right.

Coleman and her doctors were persistent and continued doing a number of tests, which was why her cancer was caught early.

For more information on the pancreatic cancer action network, go to: http://www.pancan.org