By Vin Gopal, Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey
November is a month of celebrations with Thanksgiving and Veterans Day recognizing our nation’s rich history of community and service. It’s also a month for us to unite in support for friends and neighbors who suffer from two life-threatening diseases: pancreatic cancer and Type 1 diabetes.
Six years ago the state Assembly and Senate passed our joint resolution designating November as Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month. The American Cancer Society estimates that 57,600 people in the US were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last year and approximately 47,050 people died of the disease. The statistics are alarming. In our state more than 1,600 residents received the frightening diagnosis in 2020 and 1,340 of our residents died of the disease.
Even more alarming, there is no cure and there have been no significant improvements in early detection, treatment methods, or survival rates in the last 25 years.
But together we can make a difference.
That’s why each year in October we join thousands of people for the Pound the Pavement for Purple Run/Walk in Neptune to raise awareness and money for the Lustgarten Foundation at lustgarten.org, the largest private funder of pancreatic cancer research in the United States.
This year, pancreatic cancer claimed the lives of prominent citizens, including “Jeopardy” host Alex Trebek, US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and civil rights leader and Congressman John Lewis. We can honor their memory and the memory of our own loved ones by donating to the Lustgarten Foundation at lustgarten.org/donate, where 100 percent of your donation goes directly to pancreatic cancer research.
Another of our joint resolutions approved by the State Assembly and Senate designates the Monday before Thanksgiving of each year as “A Day in the Life – Type 1 Diabetes Day.” As many as three million Americans have Type 1 diabetes with more than 30,000 children and adults diagnosed annually.
The disease strikes at any age, develops suddenly, requires insulin injections for life, and presents a constant threat of devastating health complications that result in nearly $14.9 billion a year in healthcare costs.
Perhaps, the impact of Type 1 diabetes is best illustrated by a day in the life of those who must face the constant challenge of frequently monitoring and managing blood sugar levels with insulin. Imagine being a child in school trying to control your blood levels, making regular visits to the school nurse to regulate the sudden changes in your blood sugar levels – all the while knowing you have to face these daily challenges for the rest of your life.
That’s why we continue to partner with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) to raise awareness and advocate for more research so that this disease may ultimately be cured. If you can help, please visit the JDRF website at jdrf.org and give what you can afford so that one day kids with Type 1 diabetes will enjoy “a day in the life” that’s no different than a day in the life of every other kid.
As we celebrate Thanksgiving with families and give thanks for the good fortune in our lives, let’s remember those who suffer from pancreatic cancer and Type 1 diabetes and give what we can to help researchers find the cures.
We wish all of our Legislative District 11 friends and families a happy and healthy Thanksgiving.