Making Survival Possible

November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month ·  3,123 people will be diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer in 2017 in Australia. ·  2,823 will die from Pancreatic Cancer in 2017 in Australia. ·  There is a 7% chance of surviving past 5 years. In July this year my family had the unfortunate fate of being one of the families that has to suffer the pain and hardship associated with this horrible disease. When we were given the news I started researching, having no information on pancreatic cancer.  The more research I did the more I cried, the more depressed I became and the more questions I had. After months of this, I decided to stop researching. I have decided that I am going to do my part to raise awareness and to start conversations about this disease. In hopes, this will help others recognise their symptoms and seek support as early as possible. Whilst survival rates for most forms of cancer have been rising, the survival rates for pancreatic cancer have remained largely unchanged and shockingly low for the past 40 years, at less than 5%. This is the worst survival outcome for any of the 21 most common cancers. This is due to a number of reasons: ·      Pancreatic cancer receives little funding for research, compared to the other major cancers ·      Late diagnosis; with approximately 80% of patients being diagnosed at a point when the disease is metastatic (spread to other organs) and when potentially curative surgery is not an option. For these patients, the average survival is just 2-6 months. ·      About 20% of pancreatic cancer patients will be diagnosed at a stage when they may be eligible for surgery. However, less than 10% of patients are offered surgery - the only treatment that could cure their disease! ·      About 48% of pancreatic cancer diagnoses are made by emergency admission, and over 40% of patients visit their GP 3 times or more before even being referred to hospital. 16% have to visit their GP or hospital 7 times or more before the correct diagnosis is made. ·      Once a diagnosis is made, patient experience is less satisfactory than for patients of other cancer types. For instance, fewer pancreatic cancer patients report that they are provided with clear written information about the disease. We also know that accessing advice from a dietician – very important in terms of managing the disease – remains elusive, and we continue to hear of delays between patients being diagnosed and treatment commencing. I can say from experience, every single point above is absolutely correct! The experience my family has had with the Australian health system has been absolutely shocking – from the poor quality of some of the specialist doctors, to their lack of sensitivity and cultural awareness to the extremely slow process of diagnosis and treatment. Would you believe me if I told you it has been approximately 5 months since diagnosis and treatment has still not commenced? I hope that no one I know ever has to experience any type of cancer, let alone pancreatic cancer. I always appreciated how fortunate we were to have absolutely no family history of cancer. I would never have predicted someone I love would be facing this fight. While we have had a lot of negative experiences with the health care system this is not to say that all of our experiences have been negative. The staff at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (RPAH) and Chris O’Brien Life House have been wonderful. A recent stay at Chris O’Brien Life House rekindled some of my lost faith in our healthcare system. I cannot say enough about the loving, positive and friendly environment the staff create for patients and their families. In the month of November I would like to do my part to support Chris O’Brien Life House but I need your help! I kindly ask you to donate an amount to help me support this amazing hospital. Funds donated to Chris O’Brien Life House go to cancer research and improving patient care. No amount is too little. Donate what you can, even just what you spend on your daily coffee. 100% of the donations I raise will be donated to Chris O’Brien Life House. Thank you for taking the time to read this. If you cannot donate, I would appreciate if you could help me raise awareness by sharing this post or having a discussion about it with someone during this month. Together, let’s make survival a possibility. With love, Marden
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Marden Jabbar Abdulla 
Camperdown NSW
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