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Letter: Basking Ridge Man Empathizes with Sally Ride's Illness

Letter writer, who lost his father to pancreatic cancer, says more research and education needed for disease that also claimed Ride.

To the editor,

I was deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, who lost her 17-month battle with pancreatic cancer. She had an inspiring, accomplished career and is an icon in our nation’s history.

Tragically, for those who have been touched by pancreatic cancer, 17 months is an exception, as 74 percent of patients die within the first year of diagnosis. Perhaps what is worse is that pancreatic cancer is one of the few cancers for which the relative five year survival rate, of just 6 percent, has not improved substantially in over 40 years since the passage of the National Cancer Act.

I lost my father to pancreatic cancer in April of 2011, only eight months and eight days after he was diagnosed. My father, along with our entire family, was blindsided by this disease for which there is no early detection method.

We need Congress to pass the Pancreatic Cancer Research & Education Act (S. 362/H.R. 733) which would put a long-term comprehensive strategic research plan in place allowing for the development of effective treatment options. These options would ultimately give those diagnosed with pancreatic cancer a fighting chance.

The bill is currently being debated and has strong bi-partisan support in Congress. With nearly 60 Senate co-sponsors and over 270 House co-sponsors, the bill has more bi-partisan support than the overwhelming majority of bills currently under consideration.

I hope all those inspired by Sally Ride will honor her memory by joining the fight against pancreatic cancer.  To learn more, please visit www.pancan.org. Together we can know, fight, and end this deadly disease.

Sincerely,

Michael Sommer
Basking Ridge, NJ

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