Columnist Lois Caplan

By Lois Caplan

PURPLE IS TO PANCREATIC CANCER what red is to HIV and pink to breast cancer.  How do I know that?  I asked. The purple ribbon, unlike the others, is virtually unknown in spite of the fact that pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the United States and has the lowest survival rate of any major cancer.  Seventy-five percent of patients die within the first year of diagnosis and only 6 percent will survive more than five years. Despite these awful statistics, it is the most under-funded, under-recognized and least studied of all major cancer killers with only 2 percent of the National Cancer Institute’s annual budget dedicated to pancreatic cancer research.

A year ago Janet Sciuto’s mother died after a 13-month battle with the disease. She told me, “Upon her diagnosis there was little to be found in regard to information about the disease, and it was in search of this information that I was introduced to Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PCAN). As a result I now volunteer for the PCAN, a national organization that is dedicated to advancing research, supporting patients and creating hope for those affected by the disease with a goal to double the survival rate by 2020.

Janet volunteers for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network to raise awareness and much needed funds to fight this devastating disease.  Its St. Louis affiliate will be hosting its third annual Purple Links St. Louis on May 9 at Pevely Farms Golf Club in Eureka, Mo.  The cost of the golf plus lunch and dinner is $125 per person and you may sign up at www.purplelinks.org. Even if you are not a golfer you can help the funds grow by giving a contribution to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network www.pancan.org or you may call Janet Sciuto at 314-609-1199. As prevalent as this dread disease is, I am certain that each of us has lost someone to its death grip.  I think especially of my vital, special friend Erika Goldburg and know that she is applauding me from on high for this effort.

FIVE FOOT TALL BUTTERFLIES?  No way, Jose. Not only is there one of this proportion but more than 50, each one different and a treasure for your foyer or for your favorite institution’s foyer.  As you may have noticed, giant decorated butterflies have popped up all over St. Louis as part of “Wings in the City,” a citywide art program in conjunction with BJC pediatric hospice and palliative care program.  Fifty-six butterflies have been painted by outstanding artists, including Mary Engelbright, who is the Honorary Artist.  On Saturday, May 21st from 6 to 9:30 p.m. these gorgeous pieces will be auctioned at the Art Takes Flight Auction Gala at the Hyatt Regency St. Louis Arch, 315 Chestnut Street. It’s a festive evening, cocktails and dinner, and most importantly, it benefits Wings, a nonprofit organization that provides clinical, emotional and spiritual support for children who have life -threatening or life-limiting illnesses, even if the families cannot pay for the services.  To reserve your tickets online, visit www.wingsinthecity.org or call 314-273-0895.  At the same web address you can download a printable map of the location of the butterflies -maybe even photographs of the treasures.

IF YOUR TASTE RUNS TO VINTAGE SCHOOL DESKS rather than butterflies, you will want to attend the art auction and party to benefit the University City Children’s Center’s Scholarships at 7 p.m. on May 21. (I know there is a conflict but that’s often the case this time of year.) Organizers describe the event as a fearful, feisty, flexible art auction and cocktail buffet party featuring school desks that have been transformed by top St. Louis artists, including Tom Huck, Crista Carr Schatz and students of Crossroads School. The party will be at the University City Children’s Center, 6646 Vernon Avenue.  Tickets at $50 per person are available online at www.fearfulfeistyflexible.org.  

SOME BRIDES AND GROOMS spend months, maybe years, planning their wedding.  Statistics show that a large percentage of these marriages end in divorce so why not be prepared for such an eventuality? Quarterly OWL, University of Missouri Extension and National Council of Jewish Women offer a seminar called “Divorce on the Horizon?” It provides women with information about legal, financial and emotional support resources available during and after the divorce process. It also teaches what to expect during a divorce and how to prepare for this challenge with greater confidence and understanding.   For more information on the seminar, which is held in Clayton at the World Trade Center, 121 S. Meramec Avenue and costs $25, consult [email protected].