No Reason for Celebration on National Cancer Survivors Day

Monday, June 5, 2023


Hope. A small word that has the power to make a big impact.

When we instill hope in someone, meaningful changes can happen, barriers can be broken, and lives can be transformed … even saved.

Yesterday, June 4th, we observed National Cancer Survivors Day. For those people facing cancer, hope is a precious commodity. However, for those impacted by pancreatic cancer, hope can feel like an elusive dream. That is because right now, it is.

We have a stark reality to confront: despite being the eleventh most commonly diagnosed cancer, pancreatic cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death in Canada, with a devastatingly low survival rate that has not seen any meaningful change in almost half a century.

This disease is likened to receiving a death sentence because 90 percent of patients die within five years of diagnosis, with a staggering 75 percent succumbing within the first year. It is a brutal truth that nearly every individual diagnosed with pancreatic cancer will lose their battle against it.

As the CEO of Pancreatic Cancer Canada, I would love nothing more than to be able to give hope to those impacted by pancreatic cancer. However, given where we stand today, hope alone is not enough. We need real change. We need tangible action that will save lives and raise survival rates.

That is why my team and I work hard each day to challenge the status quo of this disease. We refuse to accept the current state of affairs, and neither should you.

In the same way we rallied together decades ago to challenge breast cancer, we must now rally to challenge pancreatic cancer. The progress witnessed in breast cancer survival rates, from the struggles of the past to the triumphs of today, serve as an indomitable reminder that a united collective can achieve lasting change.

Raising sympathy does not create survivors, sorry does not save lives, action does. At Pancreatic Cancer Canada, we are laser-focused on raising survival rates and on providing the resources and support pancreatic cancer patients and their families need.

We lead the way by investing in innovative research into pancreatic cancer. Through our investments in genomic testing and clinical trials, we have uncovered valuable insights and developed personalized treatment options. Our groundbreaking PASS-01 clinical trial, supported by renowned organizations, aims to advance personalized medicine for late-stage patients.

In addition to research funding, we provide vital peer support through our partnership with Wellspring. Recognizing the far-reaching impact of a pancreatic cancer diagnosis, we have expanded our collaboration to reach more Canadians in need.

We also advocate and raise awareness about the issues surrounding pancreatic cancer – from the challenges of early detection and diagnosis to the honest realities of end-of-life care.

With each endeavour, we aim to shift the narrative around pancreatic cancer, offering hope for a brighter future for patients and their families. However, even with all these initiatives in motion, and even with team members, partners, researchers, and healthcare professionals working day in and day out to save lives, it will not be enough unless all Canadians rally behind us to make a real impact. 

We are at a critical moment in the fight against pancreatic cancer, we cannot allow another decade to pass without raising the rate of survival for this disease.

By funding important research, increasing awareness, and helping provide patients and their loved ones with the resources and support they need to navigate their journey, we can bring about the change we need. We can do better than give hope, we can save lives. And then we can give those impacted by pancreatic cancer something to celebrate on National Cancer Survivors Day in the years to come.