Pancreatic Cancer Awareness in Our Town

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As you walk downtown this month, you will see purple ribbons quietly gracing Main Street, standing testimony to the many we have lost to Pancreatic Cancer.

November 2008 has been designated Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month in the Borough of Metuchen.

Initiated by Councilman Pete Cammarano and unanimously accepted at the November 3rd council meeting, the Resolution aims to call attention to this random killer with hope that residents will become enlightened about its symptoms and risk factors.

Mrs. Debbie Spigner, widow of life-long resident Bernard Spigner, approached Peter Cammarano with the idea.  Bernard, a former WCTC radio announcer known as The Voice of Central New Jersey, and spokesman for the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, lost a brief and devastating battle with pancreatic cancer in April 2007, only 7 weeks after his initial diagnosis.  He was 51.

Since her husband's death, Mrs. Spigner has worked diligently to raise awareness of the risk factors of pancreatic cancer and is working to make a positive affect on the impact of cancer on families and individuals.  It's her tribute to Bernie.  And she's calling attention to the environment and its impact on our health.  Said Mrs. Spigner, "I am a firm believer that we should not be too comfortable with the air we breathe and the water we drink.  I am hoping that local and state agencies consider air and water quality as risk factors for cancer."


"Bernie loved Metuchen," she added.  "He wanted his town, his community, to be aware of this deadly disease and to protect themselves as best they can."  Other widows of pancreatic cancer victims were in attendance to support the resolution, including Bea Zatorski, wife of Bill Zatorski, an inspiration to all who knew him, a man who is loved and missed by so many, and Grace Shackney who lost her beloved husband Orry -- a man fondly remembered by council president Dyas.


Facts outlined in the Resolution:

  • Over 37,680 people will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer this year in the United States and 34,290 will die from the disease.
  • Pancreatic cancer is the deadliest cancer and the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the United States and takes approximately 1,060 lives in New Jersey every year.
  • 75% of pancreatic cancer patients die within the first year of their diagnosis and 95% die within the first five years.
  • There is no cure for pancreatic cancer and there have been no significant improvements in early detection, treatment methods, or survival rates in the last 25 years.
  • When symptoms present themselves, it is usually too late for an optimistic prognosis and the average life expectancy of those diagnosed with metastasis disease is only three to six months.
  • The incidence of pancreatic cancer is 20 to 30 percent higher in men than in women and 40 - 50 percent higher in African Americans than in other ethnic group.
  • The Federal Government invests less money in pancreatic cancer research than it does in any of the other leading cancers.
  • The good health and well being of the residents of the Borough of Metuchen are enhanced as a direct result of increased awareness about pancreatic cancer and research into early detection, causes, and effective treatments.
  • The Pancreatic Action Network is the first and only national patient advocacy organization that serves the pancreatic cancer community in the Borough of Metuchen and nationwide by focusing its efforts on public policy, research funding, patient services, and public awareness and education related to developing effective treatments and a cure for pancreatic cancer,
  • The Pancreatic Action Network and its affiliates in New Jersey support those patients currently battling pancreatic cancer as well as to the families of those who have lost their lives to the disease, and are committed to nothing less than a cure

Mrs. Spigner has established a blog to honor Bernie and spread the word on pancreatic cancer. From


Please join on our efforts. Many families are being impacted by this disease. It is our hope that we can begin this effort and carry it on to make a difference in this very disheartening challenge. Every day, parents, children and love ones are impacted by the diagnosis of cancer. Many don't have a chance to fight back. Having information and knowledge could help alleviate some of the confusions and misunderstandings about the disease. We hope to be able to bring families closer to the accurate information and with what help is available to pancreatic cancer patients.

Please learn the symptoms and see your doctor immediately if you are experiencing any.  As with most cancer, early detection is your best defence. 



 Bernie and his beloved son, Robbie.

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