November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month, a time designated to raise awareness of the fourth deadliest form of cancer. Often dubbed a “silent killer,” pancreatic cancer rarely produces symptoms in its early stages. Currently, there is no routine screening procedure that detects pancreatic cancer, making early diagnosis extremely difficult. As a result, pancreatic cancer is often quite advanced and has spread to other organs in the body before being discovered (Source: Pancreatic Cancer Action Network).
In honor of Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month, let’s take a few moments to recognize some extraordinary people who have become the face of this deadly disease.
The co-founder, chairman, and CEO of Apple Inc., announced in 2004 that he was battling pancreatic cancer. Jobs had been diagnosed with an islet cell neuroendocrine tumor, a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that allowed for a longer survival. Surgical removal of the tumor was successful. However, Jobs’ health continued to deteriorate. In 2009, he received a liver transplant, and in October 2011, he passed away from a recurrence of the disease (Source: ABC News).
Best known for his starring roles in blockbuster hits like Dirty Dancing, Ghost and Red Dawn, Patrick Swayze was a Hollywood heartthrob. When he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2008, Swayze immediately began fighting the disease with his wife, Lisa Niemi, constantly at his side. After a 20 month battle, Swayze passed away at the age of 57. Niemi has since stepped to the plate as a spokesperson for pancreatic cancer awareness and has championed the cause to raise funds for research (Source: Fox News).
Recognized for being the first American woman in space, Sally Ride was accustomed to facing challenges head-on. In addition to her remarkable career at NASA, Ride also taught physics at the University of California in San Diego and co-founded Sally Ride Science, an organization designed to encourage girls to pursue careers in science and engineering. Ride was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2011. She fought the disease for 17 months before passing away at the age of 61 (Source: The Huffington Post).
The great Italian tenor, affectionately known as “The Maestro,” was recognized worldwide for his powerful voice and charming showmanship. But when Pavarotti was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2006, he immediately withdrew from the public eye. Despite having major abdominal surgery, Pavarotti finally succumbed to his illness the following year at the age of 71. Shortly before his death, he was quoted as saying, “I think a life in music is a life beautifully spent, and this is what I have devoted my life to” (Source: The Daily Mail).