I was deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, who lost her 17-month battle with pancreatic cancer.

She had an inspiring, accomplished career and is an icon in our nation's history. Tragically, for those who have been touched by pancreatic cancer, 17-months is an exception, as 74 percent of patients die within the first year of diagnosis.

Perhaps what is worse is that pancreatic cancer is one of the few cancers for which the relative five year survival rate, of just 6 percent, has not improved substantially in over 40 years since the passage of the National Cancer Act.

As a pancreatic cancer patient, and a 34-year-old mother, I am all too familiar with the unsettling statistics and frightening outlook of this disease. Each time I look at my daughter I hope and pray that I will see her fifth birthday.

We need Congress to pass the Pancreatic Cancer Research & Education Act (S362/HR733) which would put a long-term comprehensive strategic research plan in place that would help develop effective treatment options that would ultimately give those diagnosed with pancreatic cancer a fighting chance.

The bill is currently being debated and has strong bi-partisan support in Congress, in fact, with nearly 60 Senate co-sponsors and over 270 House co-sponsors, the bill has more bi-partisan support than the overwhelming majority of bills currently under consideration.

I hope all those inspired by Sally Ride will honor her memory by joining the fight against pancreatic cancer. To learn more, visit www.pancan.org.

Together we can know, fight and end this deadly disease.

Shantell Seare is a two-year survivor of pancreatic cancer.