Posted Date: 11/14/2023
The Webb County Commissioners, after listening to the story of UISD cameraman Ruben Vela’s battle with pancreatic cancer, issued a proclamation on Monday to raise awareness of this deadly disease.
Commissioners donned purple ties and purple bows were placed throughout the courtroom to note that November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month and Nov. 16, 2023 is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Day. Vela’s family and friends also wore purple shirts and filled the room to show support for the man who received his advanced stage pancreatic cancer diagnosis in 2019. Doctors gave him 30 days to live.
On Monday, Ruben Vela’s wife, Patty Vela, read aloud the proclamation and said that Ruben Vela “is now on the road to recovery.”
“Today, we’re wearing purple because it’s the color of awareness for pancreatic cancer awareness month,” Ruben Vela said before the meeting.
“It is important that people go get themselves checked out. What I went through I didn’t expect to happen to me. My symptoms were nausea, jaundice and loss of weight,” Ruben Vela said. “I am just so grateful thanks to my family, doctors and support from the family. I am here to go tell people to go check yourselves.”
Patty Vela, who works with Head Start, is a volunteer with the American Cancer Society and the PanCAN (Pancreatic Cancer Action Network), urged people to call the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345 and PanCAN at 1-877-272-6226 with questions.
Webb County Commissioner Ricardo Jaime, who lost his father-in-law to pancreatic cancer in early September after being diagnosed in August – placed the proclamation on the agenda and is making it his mission to promote the cause as well, having the county courthouse lit up purple and telling his own story.
The proclamation included important facts and figures, highlighting that pancreatic cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death in the United States, and it is projected to become second leading before 2030. Pancreatic is the only major cancer with a five-year relative survival rate at just twelve percent.
Patty Vela said that after receiving the diagnosis it was “difficult at first processing the diagnosis.”
“Then it was getting help and then trying to find the right doctors. My advice to people is to get people to realize there is help out there and to reach out for help,” she said.