Why do I harangue my friends year after year?
I have been at this for a very long time. I found my way to the Hirshberg Foundation in 1998, while searching for information after my sister-in-law was diagnosed (my mother-in-law soon to follow), and they were a wonderful resource. They existed for no greater purpose than to help in any way they could and that remains true to this day which is why I am still here in lock-step with them 21 years later.
Friend and teammate Walter Koch has been battling pancreatic cancer since 2015. Walter was stage 4 (end stage) when he was diagnosed at the end of March 2015 and he was expected to last only a couple months. It has been a rough road for Walter, for sure, but he’s still with us 4-1/2 years later and he bikes regularly, occasionally riding from El Segundo down to the Redondo Beach Pier to have a beer at Naja’s. Walter is an inspiration but for every Walter, there are dozens we have lost: people like Connie and Chris Ferris, people like team namesakes Heather and Etta (“TEN”), and people like Rachel Barron and Lisa Knight. We were skiing with Lisa a year and a half ago, she was diagnosed two months later and pancreatic cancer took her in May. A dozen members of our team have lost family members to pancreatic cancer. It's one tragedy after another and it rips families apart.
Pancreatic cancer has risen dramatically in the years I have been here because far too little is being done about it. New cases are up 95.8% and deaths are up 58.3% in two decades and the American Cancer Society projects that 56,770 people will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and 45,750 will die from it this year. That’s 155 new cases and 125 pancreatic cancer deaths in the US every day which is more lives than breast cancer, liver cancer, kidney cancer, prostate cancer, ovarian cancer, melanoma, lymphoma or leukemia will claim. It's even more lives than AIDS claimed at its peak (41,699 in 1995).
The Hirshberg Foundation has been funding pancreatic cancer researchers directly in the form of seed grants since 2005 and we have funded 87 such seed grants to date but we are still forced to turn away three applicants for every one we fund and that’s what keeps me up at night. Each applicant we have to turn away is a potential breakthrough that becomes a lost opportunity. Can you imagine where we'd be if we'd been turning away researchers in those numbers when breast cancer and AIDS were spiraling out of control? If we were doing so with Ebola? And how many pancreatic cancer victims might have been spared if that was not the case?
All said, please join me at the LA Cancer Challenge and please support the cause generously.
If you think this page contains objectionable content, please inform the system administrator.