Members and advocates of the pancreatic cancer community are mourning the loss of another member of Congress, Congressman Alcee Hastings of Florida’s 20th Congressional District. West Virginia Governor Jim Justice issued a proclamation for flags to be lowered to half-staff following the Congressman’s death on April 6, 2021.
The death of Congressman Hastings due to pancreatic cancer comes just months after other high profile political deaths due to pancreatic cancer, Georgia Congressman John Lewis in July 2020 and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in September 2020. All three are remembered as being champions for civil rights.
In November 2020, Jeopardy’s Alex Trebek passed away from pancreatic cancer and in January of this year, illusionist Siegfried Fischbacher of Siegfried & Roy passed away from the disease.
In December 2021, Congress increased the federal investment in cancer research including dedicating $15 million to pancreatic cancer-specific funding at the Department of Defense – an increase of $9 million from the previous year. Congress also increased the country’s investment in cancer research at the National Cancer Institute to $6.56 billion – ensuring there is more research funding available for all cancers, including pancreatic cancer. West Virginia’s First District Congressman David McKinley has been a tireless champion on Capitol Hill to increase the funding for pancreatic cancer research.
Annette Fetty-Santilli, West Virginia Community Partner for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN,) said, “We mourn the loss of Congressman Hastings as well as others lost to this terrible disease. The five-year survival rate of pancreatic cancer patients is still only 10%.
“Even though the survival rate has increased over the past few years, it is not enough. Pancreatic cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death in the United States. PanCAN continues to work diligently to change outcomes for patients, but we need more people to get involved and help create awareness as well as raise funds for critical research. We are so grateful to Congressman McKinley for his help in helping to increase the federal research investment in this terrible disease.”
Pancreatic cancer has the lowest five-year survival rate of any major cancer in the United States at only 10 percent. In 2021, more than 57,000 people will be diagnosed and approximately 47,000 will die from the disease.
For more information about pancreatic cancer or PanCAN, persons may refer to www.pancan.org or the Facebook group page: West Virginia – Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, or contact Annette Fetty Santilli at 304-621-3648 or firstname.lastname@example.org.