Clyde Monday, my grandfather and a father figure to me, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer on August 17, 2005: He died just 20 days later. In addition to being my best friend, he was my role model and the perfect family man. He died just 11 days before I turned 23.
At the time of his diagnosis, he had stage IV pancreatic cancer. Like us, you may wonder why he was diagnosed at such a late stage of the disease. The reason is because there is no early detection method for pancreatic cancer. He had no chance of fighting this horrible disease because medical professionals had no way of detecting it in his body until it had spread to his other organs and caused him to have jaundice. He had just 20 days to cope with his fate.
Bewildered by the sudden death of the most important man in my life, I decided to take action. Along with my mother, Alicia Monday, I have been raising awareness and funds in my hometown of Atlanta by organizing fundraisers, meetings and support groups for patients and families that are coping with a pancreatic cancer diagnosis. As of March 2009, these events and meetings have raised more than $250,000. These donations will be used to provide private funding for pancreatic cancer research and patient programs. Currently, the federal funding for pancreatic cancer research makes up less than two percent of the National Cancer Institute’s annual budget, so more needs to be done.
Pancreatic cancer remains as the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. because patients are diagnosed too late. Even more disturbing, only five percent of patients live more than five years after their diagnosis. Please join us as we fight against pancreatic cancer by helping to increase the federal funding for the disease and better the odds for those facing it.