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Granddaughter of Gloucestershire pancreatic cancer victim from campaigns to improve "shocking" lack of funding

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: March 08, 2014

RAISING AWARENESS: Kirsty Cassidy from Woodmancote

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A MUM from Woodmancote is backing a campaign to improve survival rates among pancreatic cancer patients.

Kirsty Cassidy was left devastated when she lost her grandmother Marilyn May Ball to the disease in March 2010.

Now, she has vowed to raise awareness about the killer disease, which she claims receives nowhere near enough funding.

It follows the death of Kerry Harvey, who featured in the controversial 'I Wish I Had Breast Cancer' campaign, aimed at highlighting poor survival rates of pancreatic cancer patients compared to people with other forms of the disease.

Kirsty said her grandmother's death had led her to want to do all she could to redress the "shocking" imbalance.

"My nan's death was a shock to the whole family and I found it very difficult, as we were particularly close," she said.

"Pancreatic cancer is ferocious and changes everything so suddenly. She died just seven weeks after being diagnosed with the disease.

"Since my nan's death we have decided not to dwell on negative thoughts and as a family join with others to raise funds and awareness of pancreatic cancer, its mortality rate and the shockingly small percentage of the overall cancer funding it receives."

The message comes after the hard-hitting "envy" campaign, run by Pancreatic Cancer Action. It featured an interview with 24-year-old Kerry Harvey, who bemoaned the fact she had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer rather than breast cancer, which has much better survival rates.

Pancreatic cancer has a five-year survival rate of just three per cent, compared with 85 per cent for breast cancer, 97 per cent for testicular cancer and 67 per cent for cervical cancer.

Kerry died last month, less than a year after she was diagnosed with the illness.

Kirsty said she hoped her efforts could build on the work achieved by Kerry's campaign.

She is part of a Facebook group called Families in Support of Pancreatic Cancer Awareness, which is made up of people whose lives have been affected by the illness.

And she wants to force a parliamentary debate on the issue by getting 100,000 people to sign a petition calling for more funding.

"It's so important that we get more funding to improve survival rates," she added. "I don't want my nan to have died for nothing."

More than 47,000 signatures have already been added to the petition. To add yours go to epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/48389

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