NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Gov. Bill Haslam has declared November pancreatic cancer awareness month in Tennessee.
The Republican governor made the announcement at a ceremony in Nashville on Monday. Among those joining the governor was Democratic Rep. Lois DeBerry of Memphis, a pancreatic cancer survivor and the first female speaker pro tempore in the House.
According to the National Cancer Institute, there were about 44,000 new cases of pancreatic cancer in the U.S. this year and more than 37,000 deaths.
"One of the bad things is that it's so rarely detected until it's too late, and that's why you have such a high fatality rate," Haslam said. "So as a state we want to do everything we can to call attention to it.
"And for us, it's a little bit more personal, because Lois DeBerry — one of everybody's favorite state representatives — has battled this and won," he said.
Those killed by the disease include Apple founder Steve Jobs and Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Adolpho A. Birch, who DeBerry said encouraged her before he died even though he was ailing.