The reason the statistics for pancreas cancer are so staggering is by the time it is discovered it is most often too late. Only 18% of those diagnosed are eligible for surgery. If the cancer has spread to other organs, surgery is usually not an option. If the cancer has metastasized or grown beyond the pancreas, chemo therapy is recommended to attempt to shrink the tumor. Pancreas cancer surpassed breast cancer in 2017 and is now the third leading cause of cancer death in the US. Only 9% of pancreas cancer patients will survive five years. 147 Americans each day are diagnosed with PC. Our only effective means of improving these numbers is to find an early detection method. Our Champions for Hope Celebrity Golf Classic event will fund such research. In just the first year of funding, we are making great strides right here in Jacksonville at the Mayo Clinic.
Yesterday I received a phone call from Dr. Mike Wallace at Mayo Clinic. He wanted to update me on progress made working through the Mayo Development Office and Research Department to determine a strategy and a definitive plan to find an early detection method for PC…the essence of the gift agreement that accompanied our check of proceeds from the golf event held last June. Dr. Wallace stated, “The final strategy meeting was held two days ago and the plan was agreed upon”.
The newly formed Pancreas Cancer Discovery Translation Team is co-chaired by Dr. Wallace and Dr. Peter Storz, PHD who specializes in early pancreatic cancer. The specific proposal…to understand the biology of the genetic and protein switch from normal tissue to pancreas cancer and finding a quick and noninvasive test using blood, bodily juices and surgical specimens.
Research will include the three projects we discussed initially. Two of which are aimed at understanding this biology by using lasers to capture individual cancer cells (1 normal cell, 1 each of grade 1, 2, 3 precancerous cells and a pancreas cancer cell) and identifying the markers in each cell as they progress to the next grade.
Surgeons, Dr. John Stauffer and Dr. Horacio Asbun who specialize in the Whipple procedure will be included in the focus team.
Dr. Wallace stated there are only two focus teams at Mayo Clinic Jacksonville, one for breast and now one for pancreas cancer early detection, and they absolutely could not have done this without the efforts of our team.
He further stated. “Real results will be found in a few months.” This gave me chill bumps!
Thanks to a your support and donations our Champions for Hope event proceeds are going to be able to save lives. On May 12th I will be a four year survivor. To know that we are close to finding an early detection method gives me great satisfaction. God has placed each and every person involved in this quest on our path and we are humbled to be able to act as His hands to accomplish this work.