WESTFIELD, NJ — Jeanne Gladis, a volunteer with the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, spoke at Tuesday night’s town council meeting about the importance of raising awareness,supporting patients and their families and raising funds to find the cure through both individual contributions and federal funding and legislation.

“My family and I became advocates for pancreatic cancer awareness shortly after my father’s death in 2008,” said Gladis. “It isn’t only my life and the lives of my family members who’ve been touched by this disease. This is a problem that is affecting our entire community. Sadly, this past year I lost a good friend, John Engelhart, to pancreatic cancer. Even sadder is the fact that John was not the only Westfield resident to succumb to this disease this year.”

The incidence and death rate for pancreatic cancer are increasing, and pancreatic cancer is anticipated to move from the fourth to the second leading cause of cancer-related death in the U.S. by 2020, she told the council.

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“Because there are currently no early detection tools or effective treatments, just six percent of those diagnosed will survive more than five years. It is the only major cancer with a five-year relative survival rate in the single digits. Our hope is that awareness will make a difference,” said Gladis.

An official proclamation will be read at the next town council meeting, Nov. 5, making November 2014 Pancreatic Awareness Month in Westfield.