Editor’s note: It’s Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month, and our focus is “Demand Better. For Patients. For Survival.” Each week, we’re bringing you conversations with survivors, families, volunteers, researchers, advocates and others fighting the world’s toughest cancer. We’re asking them why they Demand Better and what it means to them. Today, volunteer Advocacy Chair Amy Osteryoung from the Jacksonville (Fla.) Affiliate, explains her motivation.
Amy, tell us about your experience with pancreatic cancer.
Doctors told us my father-in-law had either hepatitis C or pancreatic cancer. I had no idea what pancreatic cancer was, and he seemed healthy so I assumed it was hepatitis. When we learned otherwise, of course it knocked us all off our feet. I did research on the internet, and what I learned was devastating. Seeing the statistics, I realized the odds were stacked against us and that there wasn’t much that could be done. That hurt. He died 81 days after he was diagnosed.
Your thoughts on early detection for the disease?
Early detection is the best chance we have to make an effective difference in survival. We need a test for this disease that is like the mammogram or colonoscopy – something that’s easy just to go and do. I long for that day.
What does “Demand Better” mean to you?
It means early detection, better diagnostic tools and better treatment options. And it means no one gets told to go home and get their affairs in order. “Demand Better” is about giving patients today and in the future a fighting chance.
How do you “Demand Better?”
I didn’t know anything about the pancreas when my father-in-law was diagnosed, so I do everything I can to make pancreatic cancer as well-known as other cancers. Knowing the risk factors and symptoms is key, because acting quickly is the most important thing for people with the disease. They don’t have the luxury of time – they need to take an affirmative step, which often means finding a clinical trial as soon as possible. I couldn’t save my father-in-law, but I’m going to do everything I can to try and change that for others.
Join us in fighting the world’s toughest cancer. Visit pancan.org/demandbetter to learn more about how you can Demand Better during Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month and beyond.