The John E. Sabga Foundation (J.E.S.F.)
Right here in Trinidad and Tobago, the John E. Sabga Foundation (J.E.S.F) became a member of the steering committee of WPCC in 2019 and founder here, Natalie Sabga has walked this pathway intimately providing families and persons being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, strength, empathy and hope.
Turning Grief into Giving with Grace
“I watched my aunt Nato battle pancreatic cancer side by side with her husband John.” Mariel Sabga shared. “She did so with positivity, with faith and with grace, never complaining, never asking why but always confident in their fight. 10 months later they lost the battle. When everyone was crumbling, she somehow managed to maintain the strength to support her family. Through it all, she questioned not why it happened to him BUT why there was no cure, what more could have been done, and how she could find a way to change things for others. Her questioning became desperation which turned into determination. Three months later, the first draft of the mission and vision statement for the John E. Sabga Foundation for pancreatic Cancer was written. Natalie was GOING TO FIND A CURE FOR PANCREATIC CANCER and no obstacle was going to stop her.”
Improving the patient’s literacy and understanding of pancreatic cancer, encouraging early screening and preventing the outcome they experienced, became the primary goals of JES Foundation in Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean region. From inception, to now, the JES Foundation has achieved monumental tasks and that is attributed to the driving force of Natalie Sabga. Her tenacity and determination to make a difference in the lives of those affected by Pancreatic Cancer here in Trinidad and Tobago and to ensure no other family endures that pain and grief is extraordinary. She may not have found the cure as yet, but she is relentless in her fight and works tirelessly, at all times with a smile and always with grace.
Developing Pancreatic Cancer
What increases your risk?
Many studies have indicated that diabetes increases the risk of developing pancreatic cancer, especially when a person has had diabetes for many years. In addition, suddenly developing diabetes later in adulthood can be an early symptom of pancreatic cancer. However, it is important to remember that not all people who have diabetes or who are diagnosed with diabetes as adults develop pancreatic cancer.
People who smoke tobacco are 2 to 3 times more likely to develop pancreatic cancer than those who do not.
Chronic, heavy alcohol use can also increase the risk of pancreatic cancer, most likely by causing recurrent pancreatitis, which is repeated inflammation of the pancreas.
4. Family history.
Individuals with a family history of pancreatic cancer are at an increased lifetime risk for developing pancreatic cancer. Family history of genetic syndromes that can increase cancer risk, including a BRCA2 gene mutation, Lynch syndrome and familial atypical mole-malignant melanoma (FAMMM) syndrome
While more research is needed, a diet high in red and processed meats may increase the risk of developing pancreatic cancer. A diet high in fruits and vegetables may decrease the risk.
How is pancreatic cancer treated?
Treatment for pancreatic cancer is dependent on how advanced the cancer is and a patient’s overall health. If possible, surgeons will remove the cancer; the most common operation is the Whipple procedure (surgery to remove all or part of the pancreas and other organs). Surgery is usually followed up with chemotherapy.
For metastatic pancreatic cancer (spread to other parts of the body) treatment may include chemotherapy and occasionally radiotherapy too. A patient may also be offered treatment to relieve symptoms and the opportunity to join a clinical trial.