URBANDALE, Iowa – The Des Moines Pancreatic Cancer Action Network is hosting an event to spread awareness of the third toughest cancer to fight.
Pancreatic cancer has only a nine percent survival rate over the course of five years.
Four year survivor Beth Day said there are only 12 survivors in the Des Moines Metro Area that she knows of.
“There aren’t a lot of survivors. When I was diagnosed four years ago there was no support group. That was one question I asked my oncologist, and he said we don’t have survivors yet,” Day said.
According to Hirshberg Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research, it is estimated that 55,400 Americans will be diagnosed with the disease and 44,330 will die.
Pancreatic cancer is located behind the stomach near the spine. It is hard to find early detection.
“I just had stomach aches. I just could not get over stomach pain and finally and I knew that something was not right. I just knew that I had to be my own advocate and keep calling the doctor and going back and saying something isn’t right,” Day said.
Some symptoms include: abdomen or back pain, weight loss, loss of appetite, nausea, change in stool, recent diabetes and blood clots.
Day goes in every six months for a check-up to see if the cancer comes back. She will be five years cancer free in May 2019.
Des Moines Pancreatic Cancer Action Network hosts an event Thursday on ‘World Pancreatic Cancer Day’ to bring awareness and hope to people in the community.
“I’m hoping that to give them hope and to not give up. People hear ‘cancer’, but with pancreatic cancer it’s a very scary not very good chance of survival, so we are going to try and bring more hope to people,” Day said.
People can go to Smash Park in West Des Moines from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. to learn more about the disease and speak with survivors. The group will be in Smash Park’s deck.
In addition, the group hosts ‘Purple Stride Iowa’ a 5K run/walk to raise money towards pancreatic cancer.
Day’s team raised $5,000 last year. She hopes to double it this year in honor of being cancer free for five years.