STEUBENVILLE - Amy Crim Macko, a former Bergholz resident, received the Advocacy Coordinator of the Year Pancreatic Cancer Action Network's Community Outreach Leadership Training award in Chicago. Amy's dad was a Bergholz resident when he died of pancreatic cancer in 2006.
"His death was devastating to me and changed my life dramatically," Macko said.
She was nominated for the award by the Columbus affiliate of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and competed with other volunteer advocacy coordinators across the country.
"Amy is a dynamo and can talk to anyone, sharing powerful facts about pancreatic cancer in a way that makes people stop and listen," said Astrid Olfenbuttel, Columbus affiliate coordinator. "Amy spends a lot of time developing relationships with elected officials' staff and educates them on the Pancreatic Cancer Research and Education Act. She inspires volunteers in our affiliate to contact their elected officials and has secured many proclamations in the state of Ohio for Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month in November" said Olfenbuttel.
Macko gave credit to U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Marietta, for co-sponsoring the Pancreatic Cancer Research and Education Act.
"I received great support from the Steubenville City Council and the Jefferson County commissioners. They have always supported our efforts to fight pancreatic cancer," said Macko, who now lives in Powell, a suburb of Columbus.
"My dad never met a stranger. He could and would talk to anybody. He loved to fix everything from an old toaster to a car. He loved to travel. He married my mom before his senior year at Kent State and they started their family two years later. My dad always said he loved growing up with us. And we lost him much too early to this terrible disease that has claimed the lives of too many other residents of Jefferson County. Now we have a chance to do something to fight pancreatic cancer. It has changed my life," Macko remarked.
"There are only a few known risk factors for pancreatic cancer. We need more research to understand those risk factors and their relationship to this deadly disease.
"There are no early detection methods and most symptoms are vague and could be thought to be associated from different conditions" Macko explained.
"At this time pancreatic cancer is the 10th most commonly misdiagnosed cancer and the fourth leading cause of cancer in the United States. Of all the major cancers, pancreatic cancer has the highest mortality rate. Approximately 75 percent of patients with pancreatic cancer die within the first year of diagnosis," stated Macko.
"Unfortunately the number of new pancreatic cancer cases and the number of deaths caused by the disease are increasing. And the incidence of pancreatic cancer is 50 percent higher among African-Americans than in any other racial group in the United States. The best opportunity for long-term survival is surgery. But too often the disease is not detected early enough for surgery to have a chance," she added.
"Our annual Advocacy Day set for June 25 and 26 is a great opportunity to come together with hundreds of other supporters from across the country to tell Congress that they need to make pancreatic cancer a higher national priority. Our members of Congress need to 'Know it. Fight it and End it,'" said Macko.
"This event is educational, empowering and vital to the success of pancreatic cancer researchers everywhere working to help find a cure," added Macko.
(Gossett can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)