With a goal of raising US$1 million towards pancreatic cancer research, Natalie Sabga founder of the John E Sabga Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer is well on the way to making it happen.
Already Sabga has raised US$800,000 and that money has been sent to doctors and the medical fraternity to fund their respective research.
Sabga was speaking with Guardian Media at Thursday’s second annual ‘Purple Trot—A Glow in the Dark’ walk around the Queens Park Savannah in Port-of-Spain where scores turned out despite the inclement weather. The walk was aimed at bringing awareness to pancreatic cancer. Thursday was also World Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Day.
“This is a cancer that is on the rise globally and it has the highest mortality rate of all cancers. So we really want to bring awareness to people and try to get them to understand the early signs and symptoms and the risk factors so that they can be aware of their own health and their own body and notice when things change that they must see a doctor,” Sabga said.
Sabga’s husband, John E Sabga died from pancreatic cancer just over six years ago and losing him has prompted Sabga to be a dedicated advocate to not only help those battling the disease but finding a cure.
“Besides keeping in T&T some of the US$800,000 in funds that we raised so far for helping our citizens, we have sent out to some of the doctors that we have brought to Trinidad to teach our doctors and our medical fraternity for their research. So we have two Trinidadians who do a lot of research. We help fund their research because pancreas cancer research is going to be the key that will get us to better therapies and better options for early detection tests. Right now they’re working on a blood test so this is the whole key to the purpose of research,” Sabga explained.
“And a lot of people in Trinidad don’t understand the need and the understanding of research but if you look at breast cancer 25 years ago it was a death sentence but it is no longer that so why did that happen? Women demanded better, they started walking and running and everybody knows what the pink ribbon is. But because pancreas cancer is so devastating that families are just so devastated, when they lose their loved ones they don’t want to hear about this anymore. But we need to do for pancreas cancer what women did for breast cancer because it’s going to be the second leading cause of cancer deaths pretty soon globally after lung because it is so deadly. Not as many people would get pancreas but the mortality rate is very high,” she added.
Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh, who led the walk, praised Sabga for her advocacy in raising pancreatic cancer awareness.