NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Gov. Bill Haslam has declared November pancreatic cancer awareness month in Tennessee.
The Republican governor made the announcement at a ceremony in Nashville on Monday.
Among those joining the governor was Democratic Rep. Lois DeBerry of Memphis, a pancreatic cancer survivor and the first female speaker pro tempore in the House.
“We have all got to join in the fight if we are going to educate Tennessee about pancreatic cancer,” DeBerry told Nashville's News 2 adding, “I went into remission in December, it came back about three months ago and then three weeks ago it was gone again, so I am just so excited.”
Rep. Beth Harwell added, “Lois is 100% dedicated to helping other people and that is why she is here today.”
According to the National Cancer Institute, there were about 44,000 new cases of pancreatic cancer in the U.S. this year and more than 37,000 deaths.
It is also the only major cancer that has less than a 10% survival rate.
“While it is the fourth leading cause of cancer death, by 2015 it is going to out pace breast cancer and by 2020 it may outpace colon cancer to become the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States,” Dr. Jordon Berlin with the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center said.
Among those killed by the disease was Apple founder Steve Jobs and Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Adolpho A. Birch, who DeBerry said encouraged her before he died even though he was ailing.
*The Associated Press contributed to this report.