Friday, November 12, 2010

It was a one-eyed, one-horned, flying purple people eater

November is Jacaranda time in Brisbane, Australia. Check it out.

November is also Jacaranda time in Grafton, New South Wales, Australia. Check it out.

(The two links above take you to the blog of a woman named Helsie who lives in Australia.)

And November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month. Check it out.

In November 1966, my dad underwent exploratory abdominal surgery and was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. It had already metastasized. On March 3, 1967, he succumbed to the disease.

Over forty years later, the statistics have not improved, according to actor Patrick Swayze’s widow. She said on Good Morning, America this week that the life expectancy of someone after having been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer is three to six months. Patrick, who had the disease, lived for 22 months after diagnosis because he was an extraordinary human being.

Here’s hoping that an emphasis on wearing purple ribbons each November will result in the same sort of attention and funding increase for pancreatic cancer research that an emphasis on wearing pink ribbons each October has done for funding for breast cancer research.

I’m going to do my part.

I apologize if the title of this post offends you. I don’t mean to be insensitive, but it was one way of getting your attention. The more I think about it, though, it describes the monster that is pancreatic cancer very well. And I bet you’ll never think about purple in quite the same way ever again.


  1. Pancreatic cancer is the 11th most common type of cancer in the UK. About 8 out of 10 of all cases (80%) are diagnosed are in people over 60. Pancreatic cancer is uncommon in people under 40. There are some things that can increase your risk.

    Smoking - This is known to increase your risk. Up to 1 in 5 (20%) of pancreatic cancers may be linked to smoking.

    Some medical conditions - Risk of pancreatic cancer is increased if you have a history of diabetes, long term inflammation of the pancreas (chronic pancreatitis), hereditary pancreatitis, stomach ulcers or certain types of cancer.

    Diet - Studies show conflicting evidence on whether high levels of fat, sugar, and red or processed meats in your diet affect pancreatic cancer risk.

    Body weight and exercise - Being overweight causes a small increase in the risk of pancreatic cancer. And doing little or no physical activity in your job may increase the risk.

    Family history - Although this is not usually a factor, sometimes pancreatic cancer can run in families. There may be a genetic link in up to 1 in 10 cases of pancreatic cancer (10%).

  2. YP, thanks for your comment. According to the video in the post, pancreatic cancer is the 4th leading cause of cancer death in the United States. There are more common types of cancer, but most have higher survival rates. Wikipedia reports that fewer than 5% of pancreatic cancer's victims survive for as long as five years.

  3. Thanks for the links to the beautiful jacaranda trees, a gentle introduction to the purple ribbon. Pancreatic cancer claimed the life of one of my good friends; like your father, he survived only a few months following diagnosis. It's a terrible, terrible cancer.

  4. What could possibly be offensive about caring so much? Thanks for the post. Sometimes it's good to be reminded that there are things we can actually DO to help.

  5. Thanks, Pat and Jewels, for caring. And thanks, too, Jewels, for becoming a follower of this blog. (I'm now up to 40 and should catch up with jinksy around the year 2525.)

  6. A flying purple people eater suits me fine as the title of a serious post. Will wearing a purple sweatshirt do if I can't find a ribbon?! :)

  7. Jinksy, a purple sweatshirt will do fine. Including the words "Fight pancreatic cancer" or "November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month" would be even better.

  8. I could only find a purple bra. Hope that counts.
    I'm not sure the significance of a purple ribbon will be clear to the Dutch people. I doubt the purple bra will make it clearer. But it's the thought that counts.

    I'm so sorry that you had to lose your father so early in life and to such a terrible disease.

  9. The symptoms of pancreatic cancer are not very noticeable in the early stages, making it difficult to diagnose at a time when it can best be treated. Pancreatic cancer is an ugly, dangerous cancer. More people should be aware of it's symptoms, IMO. If there is awareness of the symptoms, it might improve survival rates.