On Monday, it was reported that Sally Ride, the first American woman to venture forth into outer space, died tragically from pancreatic cancer. Shortly after her death made news, people began searching the internet on how she lived her life. Amazingly, she was not only the first woman to rocket into outer space; she is the first gay or bisexual woman to fly in space as well.
According to Michelangelo Signorile of HuffPost, she not only had a relationship with a woman for 27 years but was also married once to a man; therefore, she can be identified as bisexual or without a label.
The other notable thing she did in her life was fighting to the end her battle with pancreatic cancer. Those who are diagnosed with it have an uphill battle fighting a disease that roughly 95 percent, according to experts, will die from it.
Pancreatic cancer is said to be the fourth-leading cause of death from cancer in the U.S., with lung, colon and breast cancer being the other three. Alarmingly, 1 in 71 people in their lifetime could be diagnosed with it. According to the American Cancer Society in this year alone, 44,030 people will end up being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and 37,660 people will be killed from the disease.
Unlike some diseases, the big problem with pancreatic cancer is there are no symptoms in the early stages, when the tumor would be treatable. There are, at present, no screening tools available and has a tendency to be discovered during the advanced stages when warning signs, such as abdominal pain or jaundice may occur.
One thing to keep in mind is age plays a significant role in those who contract the disease. For example, a large number of patients seem to be older than 45 while roughly 90% seem to be older than 55; average age seems to be 72.
Another interesting thing is it seems men have a little more of a chance of getting pancreatic cancer than women, though the gap seems not to be as wide as it used to be. The speculation as to the reason for this is that men commonly smoked more than women did in the past. One other important thing to note is that race does play a role in contracting the disease. According to doctors, African-Americans are more likely to develop pancreatic cancer than whites. Speculation for this being higher rates of men smoking, having diabetes, and women being overweight may contribute to the association.
Sally Ride Pancreatic Cancer
Former Astronaut Sally Ride was the first American Woman to launch into outer space. Ride lost her battle with pancreatic cancer on July 23, 2012.