Smyrna Town Council members proclaimed November as Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month at the Nov. 4 Smyrna Town Council meeting.

Councilwoman Valerie White spoke regarding the proclamation, stating roughly 45,220 people will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer this year while an estimated 38,460 will die from the disease.

"It is one of the deadliest cancers and is the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the United States," White said. "Roughly 94 percent of pancreatic cancer patients die within the first five years."

The proclamation states that when symptoms of pancreatic cancer present themselves, it is in the late stages of the cancer. About 73 percent of patients die within the first year of diagnosis.

White encouraged everyone to support those affected by the cancer.

The Delaware liaison for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, Melissa Pertschi, was on hand to speak at the meeting. The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network is the national organization serving the pancreatic cancer community through research, patient support, outreach and advocacy for a cure.

Pertschi, a teacher at North Smyrna Elementary, said the state has come a long way in advocacy of pancreatic cancer. Pertschi said they recently held an event in Dover and are in the midst of planning PurpleStride Delaware 2014, which will be an awareness walk. The fundraiser will be Saturday, May 31 at the Wilmington Riverfront.

Pertschi said her mother was diagnosed in 2009 with pancreatic cancer and passed away from the disease in 2012.

"I'm proud and thankful that council is recognizing this month," Pertschi said.

Email Jennifer Dailey at