Leadership Message: Andrew Fredman

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A Message from the President and CEO:

Our guest columnist this month is Andrew Fredman of the Fredman Family Foundation. The Foundation funded a $1 million Pancreatic Cancer Action Network Research Acceleration Network (RAN) Grant this year. Just weeks after Andrew lost his mother to pancreatic cancer in 2009, he reached out to us for more information about our strategy for making progress in the fight against the disease. After careful consideration, the Fredman family funded a 2009 Fellowship Award, and since then the Fredman Family Foundation has funded two additional research grants, including the RAN Grant awarded this year. You can read more of the Fredman family’s story, as well as learn about a second $1 million RAN Grant funded in memory of Skip Viragh, here.

We’re thrilled that these two generous donations allow the organization to support critical research that could accelerate progress toward doubling survival by 2020. Last month, I attended the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting in San Diego, where many of our research scientists were presented with awards for their work (read about it here). It was inspiring and motivating, and I can promise you that the future is bright.

With warm regards,

Julie Fleshman
Julie Fleshman, JD, MBA
President and CEO
Pancreatic Cancer Action Network

Dear Pancreatic Cancer Action Network Friends,

For my family — and likely for many of you — pancreatic cancer was one tough foe.

My mother, Ruth Fredman Cernea, was the strongest woman we’d ever known. She was an accomplished author, an anthropologist, a world traveler and a philanthropist, and she was very involved in her community.

We never once saw her slow down — until she battled pancreatic cancer and passed away in less than seven months from the time of her diagnosis.

Our story is an all-too-common one: We felt helpless. We didn’t know much about pancreatic cancer. And we had no idea where to turn.

In time we learned about the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and the research the organization was funding. We learned that they were also working with Congress to lay the groundwork at the National Cancer Institute for a strategic plan for pancreatic cancer, and that a broad grassroots base of volunteers was hard at work in communities across the nation raising awareness through PurpleStride events. And we learned how patients and families were being given valuable information about the disease — and hope.

We could see that the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network had grown rapidly, but they had also done so efficiently and strategically. The organization’s approach made a lot of sense to me, and I was impressed both by what had already been accomplished and by what was on the horizon. I was equally moved by the heart and passion that guided the organization. It was clear a game plan was in place — and it was working.

The more we learned, the more our family wanted to help. We were ready to turn helplessness into hopefulness. Together, my wife Kerin and I, along with my brother Jonathan and sister Lauren, decided to fund our first research grant: The Ruth Fredman Cernea Fellowship Award. Since then we have funded two additional grants, including one of the two Research Acceleration Network (RAN) grants awarded this year.

We feel honored to have had the opportunity to fund these grants. By funding research, we feel we are helping to fuel progress. And with the uncertainty surrounding government funding of research, we feel more responsibility now than ever to do what we can to make sure important breakthroughs continue.

The RAN Grant focuses on accelerating progress through the discovery of an early detection method or more effective treatments. And research in both of these areas will one day give patients a precious gift — the gift of time. This is something our mother, and far too many others, did not have.

I can’t deny that there’s a long road ahead with regard to changing patient outcomes. But I continue to be encouraged and impressed by the scientists doing cutting-edge research and making important discoveries each day.

There’s incredible momentum in research, and I’m incredibly optimistic about the future.


Andrew Fredman
Andrew Fredman