Letter: Protect pancreatic cancer research

To the Editor,
Pancreatic cancer remains one of the deadliest cancers, with a five-year survival rate of just six percent and no early detection tools or effective treatments. My wonderful mom, Gigi Shanes-Hernandez, passed away on April 9, 2009, at 52 years young after a courageous 11-month battle with this deadly disease.

The night before my mom died, she was in the ICU and expressed her desire to bring a victory flag to Washington, D.C. by fighting and surviving this horrible disease in order to bring more awareness and create more advocacy in the community and country. Unfortunately, my mom was taken from us too soon, but her drive and devotion to helping others is what motivates me to continue her fight.

Thanks to the Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act, a new law enacted in January, there is new hope. I would like to thank Sen. Schumer, Sen. Gillibrand and Rep. Engel for supporting this historic legislation, which requires the National Cancer Institute to evaluate its current efforts in researching pancreatic cancer and focus on ways to improve outcomes for patients.

Due to sequestration, however, federal funding for medical and cancer research has been cut, and the progress we have made is now being threatened. Without adequate NCI funding, it will be difficult to leverage the opportunities that develop as a result of the passage of the Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act.

On June 18, approximately 550 advocates from across the country attended Pancreatic Cancer Advocacy Day, where they urged their members of Congress to fix sequestration and protect medical and cancer research funding.

I urge senators Schumer and Gillibrand and Rep. Engel to continue their leadership on this issue by delivering a floor speech in support of sustained adequate medical research funding and an end to sequestration. You can see which members of Congress have already delivered similar speeches at www.pancan.org/speeches.

Tara Shanes-Hernandez,