The Colour Purple

Take just a small tiny minute to read this, because this month this cause needs to have another voice added to a rather small choir. Despite this being the 4th biggest killer we have, no-one really knows or talks about it. And yet once you look into it you see it's effects everywhere.

If you asked me who has had breast cancer I can name an entire list of people we all know, but I had no idea what cancer Patrick Swayze, Pavarotti, Steve Jobs or both of my sister-in-laws parents had. To be honest when I hear the word Cancer I just retreat because I feel so utterly helpless when faced with that scenario, I also mistakenly feel like it's something that seems so well funded and marketed that my voice won't even be heard in that boom.


The 12 dollar club was started so that we could be a small choir that at least would have it's song heard, no matter if we only had a few people to hear us. To me it was the joy of singing and hearing it that mattered. I guess some like to turn the radio on so loud they can't hear their own voice but that wasn't what I was wanting. So the one area I was going to avoid was the big Go Fund Me pages of the CANCER world. They have some BIG voices already.


My sister in law is an only child who lost both parents to the same cancer. She sings the most beautiful solo you've ever heard, quietly gracefully mourning and carrying on without a fuss, never making you feel like you don't understand or can't imagine what its like. Recently she's decided to share her voice with others and I see such bravery in that because now while she volunteers with the Avner Foundation, which runs the pancreatic cancer funding program she has to relive her grief every day. So to me this is personal.

I tentatively asked a few questions about it and she helped me to understand a few things. Research does actually make a difference. Breast cancer survial ratings are at 90%, Pancreatic caner is at 8%. So now this is like saying, well I'd rather listen to the album sung by the well known musician because it must be best, but the truth is, pancreatic cancer survival rates are actually increasing - and that is totally to do with funding. Which if we're into full analogies here is like backing the unknown artist who with some support may end up making a song which could also sell out stadiums, anyone seen pictures of a young Ed Sheeran busking...

One thing that I've noticed in the last few years is how campaigns like ALS (or as we now know it, the "Ice Bucket Challenge") gained huge recognition. Never before have we been able to relate and crowd fund like we can today. But we have to find a way in that is relatable, and big galas and badges are not my way in. But this month as one person walks and sings their solo, bravely alone out there with others who are also alone, they form a choir. And while I may not be able to walk with them, this month we cheer them on, we are their audience who say, we hear your song and we're listening to you. And while it may not be much, we will support you. Because if we only ever listen to the loudest choirs we can miss the beauty to be found in the quiet ones at the back. Currently just through funding alone this killer (which has been suggested kills more people in Australia than traffic accidents each year) has gone from having a survival rate of 5% in 2012 to 8% today. The Foundation have big goals for 2020 and are hoping to see 8% climb to 10% and beyond, such tiny numbers it may seem, but when we consider the amount of people , that's hundreds of thousands of lives saved.


So this month as the Sydney Opera House for the first time shines the purple light on its sails, let's give this cause a few more voices to add to their choir. Because being part of something great can be just as good as singing a solo alone.


Thank you 12 Dollar Club.

This is where October's gift has gone

Sunday 5th November - Put Your Foot Down Walk in Adelaide -


The facts about Pancreatic Cancer:

  • 7.7% chance of surviving beyond 5 years (breast cancer is 90% survival rate after 5 years)
  • The lowest survival rate of the 27 most common cancers.
  • Median survival is between 3 and 6 months.
  • A person is more likely to die of Pancreatic Cancer in Australia than from a road accident.
  • Avner’s Foundation is the only Foundation in Australia exclusively focused on Pancreatic Cancer. The above statistics are why we exist and why we are driven to achieving double the number of Pancreatic Cancer survivors by 2020.