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Striving To Raise Pancreatic Cancer Survival Rates [AUDIO]

A North Jersey group is taking to the fight to raise awareness and survival rates for pancreatic cancer.

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Todd Cohen, Media Representative for the Northern New Jersey Chapter of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, know first-hand just violent and dangerous this sickness can be. Cohen lost his father in 2002 after a one-year battle with pancreatic cancer.

The experience led to him joining Pancan, and help in the effort to answer some questions about this cancer.

The national organization creates hope for patients through research, support, community outreach and advocacy.

The North Jersey chapter was formed in February of 2007. The group has raised over $500,000 so far.

Among their major initiatives is doubling the survival rate by 2020.

“Currently, the survival rate for pancreatic cancer is only six percent,” Cohen explained. “And that’s not acceptable. We’d like to see that number at least get into double digits, and hopefully within my lifetime, to see a cure for this disease.”

Right now, only those six percent survive for more than five years.

“Through our work, we’re hoping not only to raise awareness for pancreatic cancer, but also raise much needed money to beat this disease,” he said.

A major achievement was their participation in a recently-passed bill that calls for the National Cancer Institute to develop a long-term plan for dealing with deadly cancers, such as pancreatic.

Cohen says his chapter hosts three signature events each year to fund their efforts.

On July 21st, they will hold a Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Day at TD Bank Ballpark in Bridgewater.

The second big event is Purple Light, which takes place on October 27th in Edison.

Finally, the biggest function of the year is Purple Stride New Jersey, which is set for November 10th in Parsippany. The 2012 version was unfortunately cancelled because of Superstorm Sandy.

He says social media has been instrumental in spreading the group’s message and getting the word out about the pitfalls of pancreatic cancer. They’ve recently expanded their efforts into South Jersey.

“By thinking up new ideas to kind of get the word out and raise awareness about pancreatic cancer, we are seeing some minor progress,” Cohen explained. “Hopefully, we will see more major progress on a grand scheme down the road.”

Learn more about the Northern Jersey chapter of Pancan by visiting them online, and checking out the Northern and Southern New Jersey Facebook pages.

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