NH joins national vigil to help fight pancreatic cancer
Participants in Sunday's vigil to raise awareness of the fight against pancreatic cancer raise their purple glow sticks in Manchester's Veterans Memorial Park. (GARONE PHOTOGRAPHY)
An estimated 160 people gathered Sunday as part of an effort to "turn the country purple," the color associated with pancreatic cancer awareness, according to Amy Nelson. More than 13,000 pancreatic cancer survivors and volunteers attended 80 PurpleLight National Vigil for Hope events in communities across the country, Nelson said.
Nelson, of Brentwood, helped organize the New Hampshire vigil in honor of her mother, Marie Martel, a lifelong Manchester resident. Nelson said Marie was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer Sept. 21, 2012, and died 45 days later. Tuesday marks the first anniversary of her death.
Survivors, families and friends at the vigil were asked to stand while illuminating purple glow sticks when their name or their loved one's name was read. Organizers of the local event read the names of 34 people killed by the disease. Four survivors attended the vigil.Pancreatic cancer has the lowest five-year survival rate of all major cancers, Nelson said. This year, more than 45,000 people will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the United States, and more than 38,000 will die from the disease, according to figures supplied by the National Cancer Institute. Seventy-three percent of patients die within the first year after diagnosis.
"We are made up of mostly volunteers, and New Hampshire has been on board for the past two years working with the organization," said Aimee Sherman, a volunteer New Hampshire community representative with the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.
"We are grateful to have the support of Mayor Gatsas and so many others who have been afflicted by this disease," Nelson said.
To learn more about the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and local affiliates, go to www.pancan.org or call Sherman at 477-7834.
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