Sydney woman appointed Chair of World Pancreatic Cancer Day Committee

April 7, 2019 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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Jessica Abelsohn has been appointed Chair of the World Pancreatic Cancer Day (WPCD) Committee, taking over from Co-Founder and CEO of Pancreatic Cancer Action UK, Ali Stunt.

Jessica Abelsohn with her father Daniel Goulburn

Sydney-based  Abelsohn, who co-founded pancreatic cancer social media movement #PurpleOurWorld with her family, is an inaugural member of the WPCD Committee, taking on the role in 2016. The Committee is the organising body for the annual World Pancreatic Cancer Day, working alongside the World Pancreatic Cancer Coalition (WPCC) Steering Committee to create the global campaign.

Abelsohn is very honoured by the appointment. “I’m very excited to be taking on this challenge. I’m backed by a fantastic and enthusiastic committee, with members from all over the world. Each member has a different strength and lots of ideas so it’s going to be a great couple of years.”

#PurpleOurWorld was founded in honour of Abelsohn’s mother, Rochelle Goulburn, who passed away from pancreatic cancer in August 2014 after being treated for the disease for 16 months. “As we’ve come to learn, 16 months is a great length of time for pancreatic cancer. The average survival is just six months,” Abelsohn explains. “We founded #PurpleOurWorld shortly after my mum passed away because we wanted to raise awareness of the disease and ensure other families out there were educated about the symptoms. We want to turn our whole world purple.”

Last year, #PurpleOurWorld hosted a breakfast for World Pancreatic Cancer Day and was honoured to have Federal Member for Wentworth, Dr Kerryn Phelps in attendance. Dr Phelps addressed attendees, speaking of the need to focus on greater survival rates and acknowledging that there are so few survivors to champion the cause.

Pancreatic cancer has the highest mortality rate of all major cancers and just an 8.7% survival rate beyond five years. The most frightening thing about pancreatic cancer is that the symptoms are generic and mundane, leading many people to believe they are suffering from another illness. “Symptoms can start as simply a stomach ache or some indigestion, which is why people are quick to ignore them,” Abelsohn says. “Other common symptoms include mid-back pain, a loss of appetite, nausea, unexplained weight loss and a change in bowel habits. At the very end of the spectrum, there’s also jaundice, where your skin or eyes turn yellow. However, when it comes to that, it’s usually too late.”

The WPCD Campaign focuses on educating the public about these symptoms so if someone presents with two or more of these symptoms, they can ensure they receive the correct testing.

Abelsohn, and her father Daniel Goulburn who sits on the WPCC Steering Committee, will be travelling to Miami in May for the annual World Pancreatic Cancer Coalition Meeting, representing #PurpleOurWorld and the Australian Pancreatic Cancer Alliance.

The Coalition brings together more than 70 advocacy organisations from more than 30 countries around the world. At the meeting, members will be sharing best practices, leveraging expertise and devising the WPCD 2019 campaign. The WPCC highlights the importance of collaboration, especially when it comes to amplifying the collective voice to raise awareness, with a strong belief that by working together, transformational change can, and will, happen.

“We have made some wonderful friends around the world through the Coalition. The meeting in May is absolutely inspiring, with everyone sharing a common goal – to rid the world of pancreatic cancer,” Abelsohn says. “It’s a great way to kick off the 2019 WPCD campaign.”

World Pancreatic Cancer Day this year falls on Thursday 21 November. To keep up with everything #PurpleOurWorld, follow them on social media.

Facebook: facebook.com/purpleourworld

Instagram: PurpleOurWorld

Twitter: PurpleOurWorld

For more information regarding pancreatic cancer, head to the World Pancreatic Cancer Day website – worldpancreaticcancerday.org

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