Why do I harangue my friends year after year?
Connie Ferris-Franke died in 1998.
Jayne Bradley Chagnon died in 2000.
Christine Ferris died in 2001.
Margaret Brower died in 2005.
Heather Stevens died in 2006.
Etta ("TEN") Mendenhall died in 2007.
Tom Hildebrand died in 2007
Jenny Sweeting died in 2011.
Rachel Barron died in 2014.
Connie and Chris were Liz's sister and mother, Rachel was a close friend of ours, Heather and Etta ("TEN") were friends from a local running group and the others above were relatives of other team members. Each of them was felled by pancreatic cancer and with each of their deaths, a family was left in pieces.
Any cancer diagnosis is a devastating one but hundreds of thousands of people survive other, more prominent forms of cancer (breast, colon, prostate, leukemia, lymphoma, etc.) and they join ever-growing armies to advocate for funding for those diseases. Pancreatic cancer, however, is still essentially a death sentence – one that now claims more lives in the US than breast cancer (and it's on the rise!) – and it has no army. I have thus made it my personal mission to take up the battle for those we have lost and to be their advocate. The Hirshberg Foundation was a tremendous resource for us when Connie and Chris were battling the disease, and likewise for Heather and Etta and Rachel, and I have been involved with the foundation since its earliest years.
This is not a "charity" event hosted by a for-profit race director donating a percentage of the proceeds to charity. This is a pancreatic cancer foundation putting on our own event for the 20th year in a row (my 20th year in a row as well) to fund pancreatic cancer research projects. Only research will change the needle on this disease and this single event has funded 11 pancreatic cancer seed grants in each of the last two years. Still, those 22 awardees were 22 of 120 applicants, all with novel ideas on how to tackle pancreatic cancer, so think of all the research that isn't being done.
This is not a race – it's a mission!
Please join me -- please help me! -- in the fight.
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