Since 2005, Amy Crim Macko has made it her mission to bring public awareness and funding to the fight against pancreatic cancer.

Since 2005, Amy Crim Macko has made it her mission to bring public awareness and funding to the fight against pancreatic cancer.

Macko wears a purple ribbon to honor her late father George Crim's fight against the cancer.

She and other members of the nonprofit organization Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCan) are seeking support from local government officials in recognition of November as Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month.

Macko recently visited the Liberty Township trustees, who designated November 2010 Pancreatic Awareness Month in the township. Macko is the area's volunteer advocacy coordinator for the network.

No cure is available for pancreatic cancer and the survival rate has not improved in almost 40 years, she said.

"Other cancers have had a much better chance and since 1975 the five-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer has only improved from 3 to 6 percent. It is the only one of the top 10 cancer killers that still has a five-year survival rate in the single digits," she said.

Her family's experience with the disease was a common one, she said.

"My father was very healthy, active and working full time when he suddenly became ill and had emergency surgery for a blocked bowel."

The doctors found and removed a tumor the size of a grapefruit, Macko said.

Her father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in December 2004.

Five months later, in May, he died.

"When you mention a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer to people who know about it, their face gets a look like, 'I've got to get a sympathy card,'" Macko said.

Macko said that much of the problem is a lack of early diagnostic tools.

People often are in the later stages of the disease when diagnosed.

"It is estimated that 43,140 men and women will be diagnosed with and 36,800 men and women will die of cancer of the pancreas in 2010," the National Institute of Cancer website says;

Pancreatic cancer has a 6-percent survival rate for five years, Macko said. Prostate cancer has a 100-percent survival rate for five years and breast cancer is 90-percent survival rate for five years.

Success in those cancer survival rates was brought on by ample funding for research she, said.

Pancreatic cancer research has been under funded, documents from the network say.

"Only 2 percent of the National Cancer Institute's (NCI) budget is currently allocated to this leading killer," the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network document says. It is the fourth leading cause of cancer deaths.

Macko hopes that folks will join her and the PanCan in encouraging U.S. Senate and House members to sponsor and support the "The Pancreatic Cancer Research & Education Act."

The act includes asking the federal government to "take steps to ensure there is a strategic plan and accountability for making progress on pancreatic cancer," network documents say.

The act, also known as S. 3320 and H.R. 745, seeks to encourage Congress to ensure "that NCI has predictable and sustainable funding that also allows for progress in diseases like pancreatic cancer by providing $5.79-billion for the NCI in 2011."

The NCI website shows that in 2008, $87-million of its $4.8-billion budget went toward pancreatic cancer research, an amount that Macko said is too small to make great strides, because research is expensive.

She hopes to see that amount increase because in the next 20 years new pancreatic cancer cases are expected to increase by 55 percent.

The Columbus affiliate of Pancreatic Cancer Action Network will hold the fundraiser "Raise Your Glass for a Cure," from 6-9 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 11, at the Bridgewater Banquet & Conference Center, 10561 Sawmill Parkway, Powell. For more information about the event, e-mail Stephanie Bennett at sbennett@pancanvolunteer.org or call her at (614) 425-2616.

For information on pancreatic cancer, visit the PanCan website at www.pancan.org.