Heather & TEN & Families & Friends
Connie Ferris, Christine Ferris, Jayne Bradley Chagnon, Margaret Brower, Heather Stevens, Etta ("TEN") Mendenhall, Tom Hildebrand, Jenny Sweeting, Rachel Barron, Rosa Salazar, Lee Harris, Dee Quesada, Donna Cohen and Lisa Knight. They were brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, aunts and uncles – each related to a member of our team – and each of their lives was cut short by pancreatic cancer.
Pancreatic cancer now claims more lives in the US than breast cancer, liver cancer, kidney cancer, prostate cancer, ovarian cancer, melanoma, lymphoma or leukemia, and it continues to grow. We think of it as a rare form of cancer, largely because there are so few survivors left to talk about it, but it is anything but that. More people by percentage are surviving pancreatic cancer these days, thanks to advances in research and treatment (including research we have funded), but the number of deaths continues to grow because the disease itself is outpacing those gains. New cases are up 95.8% and deaths are up 58% in the past 21 years. The American Cancer Society projects that 56,770 people will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer this year and 45,750 will die from it which translates to a staggering 155 new cases and 125 pancreatic cancer deaths in the US every day.
The Hirshberg Foundation is dedicated to advancing pancreatic cancer research and providing support to patients and their families, and the proceeds of this event are funneled directly to pancreatic cancer researchers in the form of seed grants. We have funded 87 seed grants since 2005 but we are still forced to turn away three applicants for every one we fund and it’s nothing short of tragic to think that pancreatic cancer continues its unabated rise not because researchers don’t know what to do about it but because those who do know what to do about it are not being funded. We can’t compete with other forms of cancer that produce ten times as many survivors (breast cancer produces twenty times more), armies evangelized by their own experiences and clamoring for funding, but we battle on and we do what we can do. Still, it's what we don't do that keeps me up at night -- each grant applicant we have to turn away is a potential breakthrough that becomes a lost opportunity -- so please join me at the LA Cancer Challenge and please support the cause generously.