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PLANETS has marked World Pancreatic Cancer Day today (Thursday, 16 November) by unveiling an “inspiring and emotional” film about its patients, team and how it is transforming care.

The film, which can be viewed here, highlights the charity’s commitment to making a difference to the lives of cancer patients and features a number of those helped by PLANETS in recent years.

They include neuroendocrine cancer patients Cat Richards, 38, from the West Midlands, and Joe Freire, 61, from Havant, as well as stomach cancer patient Dave Mollicone, 60, from Eastleigh, who held a ball for the charity in February which raised £18,000.

Neil Pearce

Neil Pearce

It also shows members of the PLANETS clinical and fundraising teams, with a voiceover by recently retired surgeon and PLANETS co-founder Neil Pearce who explains how fundraising for the charity changes lives.

Since 2011 the charity has raised more than £2 million and delivered achievements including a network of patient support groups across the Wessex region and the UK’s first mobile electron beam radiotherapy machine based at University Hospital Southampton.

The charity has also funded a full-time pancreatic and neuroendocrine tumour researcher to work with clinician scientists at UHS and the University of Southampton’s world-leading cancer immunology research department.

In addition, pioneering research by PLANETS-funded clinicians based in Southampton has identified genetic patterns that could help to predict the likelihood of someone developing pancreatic cancer.

This project has now received a further £35,000 from the Liver and Pancreatic Research & Development Fund (LAPR&D), which was incorporated into PLANETS in January, to help develop a dedicated risk score tool.

While World Pancreatic Cancer Day takes place on the third Thursday of November every year, the month of November is also Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month which is symbolised by the colour purple.

Alongside launching its charity film, PLANETS is urging people to light their homes and landmarks purple on today as part of the #PurpleLightsUK 2023 campaign led by Pancreatic Cancer UK.

“We have chosen to launch our new film on World Pancreatic Cancer Day and during Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month as it provides a chance to draw attention to just how dangerous this form of cancer is,” said Jo Green, who is Operations Director for PLANETS.

Joe Freire and clinical nurse specialists

Patient Joe Freire with clinical nurse specialists

“Pancreatic cancer has been left behind. It has extremely poor survival rates which see more than half of people die within three months of their diagnosis. However, work being carried out by our researchers in Southampton could help to change this.”

She explained the film is an “important milestone” for the charity and highlights the “resilience and unwavering spirit” of the whole PLANETS team.

“This film captures the essence of what PLANETS is about – a celebration of hope, resilience and the power of unity between our patients, clinicians and supporters,” she said.

“It is inspiring and emotional and provides an insight into our charity that we hope will show everyone who has supported us what a difference their involvement is having on the lives of others.”

She added: “We want to say a special thank you to the courageous and inspiring patients who gave up their time and shared their experiences with us and to Neck of the Woods Films who were so empathetic with everyone involved and helped us to capture what we do so perfectly.”

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