Health & Wellness

Liberty Middle School in West Orange Goes Purple for Pancreatic Cancer Awareness

Students and staff at Liberty Middle School form a purple human ribbon to recognize November as Pancreatic Awareness month. Credits: West Orange Public Schools


WEST ORANGE, NJ -  Liberty Middle School in West Orange wore purple for the sixth consecutive year to recognize November as Pancreatic Awareness Month.  Pancreatic Cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the United States.            

Todd Cohen, Liberty Middle School Math teacher, organized the week.  Cohen lost his father to pancreatic cancer 10 years ago and currently volunteers for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, a pancreatic cancer charity. Cohen was instrumental last year when West Orange Township issued a Proclamation establishing November as Pancreatic Awareness Month here in town.

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Pancreatic Cancer facts were read each morning during announcements, and the Student Council prepared purple ribbons for all students to wear in support of Pancreatic Cancer awareness.

Cohen said the five-year survival rate is six percent. With no early-detection method or effective treatment options, the disease is currently anticipated to become the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States by 2020, possibly as early as 2015.

“Pancreatic cancer is one of the more overlooked cancers. By creating awareness it allows the students and faculty to be exposed to a very serious health problem that exists in our community,” Cohen said. “In the decade that has passed since losing my father, not much has changed about this terrible disease and every bit of awareness leads us one step closer to finding a cure.”

As with Breast Cancer Awareness (Pink) and Drug Prevention (Red), students and faculty created a human purple ribbon.    

"It's always rewarding to see students and faculty band together for worthy causes," Liberty Principal Robert Klemt said. "This was another teachable moment to show the students the importance of raising awareness about various types of cancer."

Some well known persons who died from pancreatic disease are Count Basie, Jack Benny, Billy and James Carter, brother and father of former President Jimmy Carter; and Joan Crawford.

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