Pancreas Matters letter, Charlotte Rae

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A Message from the President and CEO:

This month, our guest columnist is Charlotte Rae, a pancreatic cancer survivor and a longtime supporter and advocate of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. A seasoned and versatile actor, Charlotte is best known for her roles on the television shows Diff’rent Strokes and The Facts of Life.

With warm regards,

Julie Fleshman, JD, MBA
President and CEO
Pancreatic Cancer Action Network

Dear Pancreatic Cancer Action Network Friends:

Charlotte Rae

On June 17 and 18, hundreds of supporters from across the country will again gather in Washington, D.C., to participate in the seventh annual Pancreatic Cancer Advocacy Day. I have attended this empowering event the last two years and strongly encourage you to join me this year in telling Congress that they still have a lot more to do to change the statistics for pancreatic cancer.

We must speak out loud and clear: Federal funds must be invested to develop more effective treatments and to find a simple, affordable detection test. This disease is so frightening because it cannot be detected early enough. Effective treatments and early detection tools could save thousands and thousands of lives.

I am sure that many of you felt the same way I did when the Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act was signed into law earlier this year: Hallelujah! We won! For a few days, I reveled in scoring one against this awful disease. I am so proud of what we all accomplished, but I know that we now have to fight even harder.

Congress is currently trying to figure out where they can cut federal funding. You know where they are most likely to find the cuts? From programs that no one is shouting about. We cannot let medical research be one of those programs that no one is shouting about. Let’s put big-time pressure on Congress this June and tell them – Don’t Cut Medical Research!

I have lost three close relatives to pancreatic cancer: my mother, Esther Lubotsky, my uncle, Joe Ottenstein, and my older sister Beverly Levin, who passed away in 1998. Because of my family history, I got tested and was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. So far, I have been the lucky one. But I worry about my sons, grandchildren and all the others who are vulnerable to developing the disease. They should not have to confront the same daunting odds that the more than 45,000 Americans who will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer this year will have to face – a meager 6 percent survival rate.

Researchers need the tools and resources that only the federal government can provide to make progress in fighting the disease. We desperately need more medical research into this disease. We certainly can’t afford more cuts!

This is why I strongly encourage you to register for Advocacy Day today and join me in Washington, D.C., this June. The event is inspiring and also vital to the success of pancreatic cancer researchers everywhere working to help find a cure. I remember how thrilled I was at last year’s event, seeing hundreds of survivors and advocates from all 50 states heading to Capitol Hill to meet with their members of Congress. I urge you to join our community and help us beat this devastating disease.

If you cannot make it to Washington this year, you can still make your voice heard on Capitol Hill by participating in the National Call-In on June 18.

Now is not the time for us to become complacent. We must let Congress know that we cannot afford any further cuts to cancer research funding and that fighting pancreatic cancer must remain a top priority for our nation.

Come join us and help save lives. I hope to see you in June!


Charlotte Rae
Pancreatic cancer survivor
Pancreatic Cancer Action Network Advocate