Zumbathon steps up awareness for pancreatic cancer
November 20. 2012 6:00AM
Lori Murray can name off five Brandon area residents that have been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
Sandy Lundberg remembers all too well what her sister went through with the disease.
Those were reasons enough for the two Brandon women to get involved with the first ever Zumbathon, which was held Saturday at Celebration United Methodist Church in Brandon in support pf the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PANCAN).
“You’ve got to start somewhere,” said Murray, who is PANCAN’s community rep for the Sioux Falls area. “We have a pretty good turnout and it energizes us for next year.”
Lundberg’s sister lost her battle to pancreatic cancer four years ago.
“When I think about the statistics, I think it’s crazy that it’s not getting more awareness,” she said.
On Saturday, about 30 women powered through two hours of Zumba. Each paid $20 to participate and proceeds from Saturdays event is being directed to PANCAN to for research grant funding.
According to information supplied by PANCAN, pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the United States and it has the lowest five-year survivor rate of all cancers. It is also anticipated to move from the fourth to the second leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. by 2020, and possibly as early as 2015.
“Ten years ago at McKennan, we would see maybe one (case) a year,” Murray said. “Now we’re seeing up to a four a week.”
This year, an estimated 43,920 people will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the United States, and approximately 37,930 will die from the disease, according to the American Cancer Society, Cancer Facts and Figures 2012 publication.
Pancreatic cancer remains one of the deadliest of all cancers because there are not good early detection tools or effective treatment options due to complex biological features of the disease. Last year, 600 people in South Dakota were diagnosed with breast cancer, from which 100 people died, Murray informed. All 100 people diagnosed in the state with pancreatic cancer last year succumbed to the disease.
Saturday’s Zumbathon was also held in memory of Laura Hanisch, a Brandon woman who lost her battle to pancreatic cancer last month.
“She really was a statistic,” Murray said. “A year from when she was diagnosed she passed away, but she was quite an advocate all the way up to the end.”
A bill (HR 733) currently sits before Congress in Washington, D.C., that, if passed, would put in place a process for addressing the top 10 cancers.
“We’re pushing everyone to contact their Senators now before Jan. 1,” Murray said.
Murray was one of 10 PANCAN volunteers that were in Washington, D.C. on “National Call-In Day,” which supports the passage of HR 733.
While Murray wasn’t moving around with the 30 other participants Saturday, she said, “Zumbathon is being done to create awareness and to reach out to the public because there are so many people (affected by pancreatic cancer) and the numbers are astronomically rising.”