Why do I harangue my friends year after year?
This is the 25th Los Angeles Cancer Challenge and this is my 25th as well. I have been here since day one and I consider this a lifelong commitment.
It's been 24 years since Liz's sister and mom were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer -- team namesake Heather was diagnosed five years later -- and the incidence of pancreatic cancer has more than doubled from 29,000 new cases in 1998 to more than 62,000 new cases this year. We have made progress in fighting the disease but survival rates remain dismally poor and the steady growth of the disease has outstripped those gains such that pancreatic deaths are up 72% over the same period. Pancreatic cancer deaths surpassed breast cancer deaths in the US in 2016 and the gap has already widened to 14%.
A dozen team members have lost family members to pancreatic cancer and dozens more of us have lost dear friends, capped by Lisa Knight three years ago and Walter Koch a year later.
Pancreatic cancer is a vicious and unforgiving disease and we need to marshal everything we can to combat it. Only research will change the needle on pancreatic cancer and we parcel the proceeds of this event into seed grants that go directly to pancreatic cancer researchers, sowing their seeds of innovation, so please join me in memory of those we have lost and in honor of those we have yet to meet.
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