From left, Dr Ravi Maharaj, John E Sabga Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer founder Natalie Sabga, Hyatt Regency general manager Richard Westell and Lisa Ghany pose for a photo at the Hyatt Regency pool, which was lit up in purple for World Pancreatic Cancer Day, on Wednesday night.

The Hyatt Regency Hotel and the National Academy for Performing Arts (NAPA) are now lit in purple for World Pancreatic Cancer Day, as part of the John E Sabga Foundation’s campaign to raise awareness about the disease.

World Pancreatic Cancer Day is celebrated annually on the third Thursday of November and is symbolised by the colour purple.

According to John E Sabga Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer founder Natalie Sabga, people must be educated about the disease and its symptoms and how it can alter their lives.

“This is one of the cancers that a lot of people don’t know about. They don’t even know where the pancreas is and the signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer are very, very vague,” Sabga said during Wednesday’s launch of the initiative at the Hyatt Regency in Port-of-Spain.

The signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer include jaundice and related symptoms, belly or back pain, weight loss and poor appetite, nausea and vomiting, gallbladder or liver enlargement, blood clots and diabetes.

“Diabetes is a factor in pancreatic cancer. Since we have a high rate of diabetes in our small little country, I think it’s important for us to showcase to the people in the nation the importance of vigilance and the importance of taking care of their own health,” she said.

The Hyatt Regency started their drive on Wednesday night by illuminating their pool in purple and was expected to light the front of the hotel in the same colour last night. It’s a campaign the hotel’s general manager, Richard Westell, said they were happy to be a part of.

“We like to be involved with any social elements that obviously bring awareness to what we believe are serious issues,” he said.

“I’ve had family with cancer so I’m particularly behind the cause.”

NAPA was also expected to be lit last night and according to Sabga, it’s an honour to have the academy participate in the campaign.

“We are quite thrilled that they agreed to support us and I think it shows to the people of Trinidad and Tobago that national organisations and even our Government has realised the importance of this and agreed to light up purple and show the world and our people that they’re supporting this campaign,” Sabga said.

She urged all those diagnosed with pancreatic cancer to reach out to the foundation via its Facebook page or website for any assistance needed.

The foundation also held its fifth distinguished lecture series virtually on Wednesday. Its feature speaker was Dr Colin Weekes who presented on harnessing pancreas adenocarcinoma plasticity for therapeutic use.