Family at the forefront of global pancreatic cancer fight

November 6, 2018 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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On World Pancreatic Cancer Day on Thursday 15 November people around the world will rally together to Demand BetterSM in the fight against pancreatic cancer, starting with awareness of the symptoms and risks.

The #PurpleOurWorld team and family pictured with Ambassador Tracey Spicer and WPCD 2017 event MC Peter Overton.

The annual one-day campaign is an initiative of the World Pancreatic Cancer Coalition, which is comprised of more than 70 organisations from 30 countries.

One organisation is #PurpleOurWorld, a family-founded social media movement dedicated to raising awareness of Pancreatic Cancer. #PurpleOurWorld is one of five Australian members of the Coalition.

#PurpleOurWorld was founded by Daniel Goulburn, his daughters Sara Kahn and Jessica Abelsohn, and sisters-in-law Isabel Kirsh and Ruth Nissim, in honour of their wife, mother and sister Rochelle Goulburn, a Moriah College teacher for more than 30 years. Rochelle passed away from pancreatic cancer in August 2014, 16 months after her diagnosis, which is unusual, given the average survival is just six months.

#PurpleOurWorld is at the forefront of the global campaign with Jessica Abelsohn’s role on the World Pancreatic Cancer Day committee, and Daniel Goulburn’s recent appointment to the World Pancreatic Cancer Coalition Steering Committee.

Goulburn is also currently Wolper Jewish Hospital’s President and served on the Moriah College Board for many years. He is currently a Life Governor and Trustee of the College and also Co-Chair of the Australian Council of Jewish Schools.

“I am deeply honoured to have been appointed to the World Pancreatic Cancer Coalition Steering Committee representing #PurpleOurWorld and the other Australian member organisations,” Goulburn said. “The nine-member steering committee is made up of representatives from the US, UK, Canada and Europe. The committee assists the Coalition’s member organisations from all over the world in the very difficult task of raising much-needed awareness of Pancreatic Cancer, the most horrible and tragic of cancers.”

Every day, nine people in Australia will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and an estimated eight will die from the disease. Pancreatic cancer has the lowest survival rate among all major cancers, and in nearly every country, it is the only major cancer with a single-digit five-year survival rate.  In Australia, the survival rate is currently just under 9%. These chilling figures are not merely statistics, they represent family members, friends and colleagues across the globe.

“Pancreatic cancer is a silent killer. The symptoms are so vague and common that it’s very rarely diagnosed early enough to have surgery which is the only cure for the disease,” Abelsohn explains. “The global World Pancreatic Cancer Day campaign focuses on the need to demand better for patients, allowing us to bring greater awareness for the disease. This includes a better understanding of the symptoms as this is key to early detection.”

There is currently no standard screening test or early detection method for pancreatic cancer, though research is being conducted in these areas. It is critical that those who may see signs or symptoms of pancreatic cancer listen to their bodies, seek medical attention and when talking to their healthcare provider, mention pancreatic cancer. Research shows that patients diagnosed in time for surgery are more likely to live five years and beyond.

A social media campaign, focused solely on awareness, #PurpleOurWorld has teamed up with corporate organisations such as Westfield, Ramsay Health Care and Insurance Australia Group to raise the profile of the disease. For the fourth year in a row, Gelato Messina will also be creating one of their ‘specials’ for the week in honour of World Pancreatic Cancer Day.

“#PurpleOurWorld has really grown over the past four years,” Abelsohn says. “Our motivation will always be mum, we’ll continue to be her voice. However, #PurpleOurWorld is now about so much more. We campaign for every other family going through what we went through. We campaign so that families can have one more day, one more month, one more year with their loved ones.”

#PurpleOurWorld, together with the World Pancreatic Cancer Coalition invites the community to take action to raise awareness of this deadly disease. Simply wear something purple and share a picture on social media using the hashtag #WPCD.

If you wish to understand more about the symptoms and risks of the disease, please visit worldpancreaticcancerday.org for further information.

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