Pancreas Matters letter December 2012, Julie Fleshman

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Dear Pancreatic Cancer Action Network Friends:

On behalf of the entire Pancreatic Cancer Action Network family, we extend the warmest of holiday greetings to you and your loved ones. We also remain deeply grateful for your continued support of our mission as we remember all of those now fighting the disease as well as everyone we have lost to it.

As we approach the end of the first half of our 2012-’13 fiscal year, I am pleased to recognize the incredible strides we have made during the last few months as we continue to address the diverse needs of the pancreatic cancer community:

  • In 2013, we will award more than $4 million in research grants, representing the largest annual total distributed by the organization to date. Among the grants that will be awarded is a new grant mechanism known as the Research Acceleration Network (RAN) Grant. The RAN Grant, our largest funding mechanism to date, provides an unprecedented sum of $1 million for a clinical project with scientists from at least two institutions working together to help reach our goal to double the pancreatic cancer survival rate by 2020.

    Our grants, which are awarded using a rigorous peer-review process, help ensure that we continue to develop a “critical mass” of investigators dedicated to studying pancreatic cancer. Our goal is to build a comprehensive pancreatic cancer research community of brilliant scientists and researchers who are working hard to find an early detection method and effective treatment options. In the decade since our grants program began in 2003, 80 grants have been awarded, totaling over $12.7 million.

  • On September 19, 2012, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act (H.R. 733), formerly known as the Pancreatic Cancer Research & Education Act. Within the next day or so, the Senate will vote on the National Defense Authorization Act, which includes the Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act as an attachment. This will be an important milestone but we will still have some more steps ahead of us before this becomes law, including passage of a compromise version of the Defense bill and then it will be sent to President Obama for his signature. We will keep you posted on these exciting developments as they unfold.
  • From July 1 through November 30, 2012, contacts to the PanCAN Patient Services increased by 23 percent compared to a similar period during the previous year and clinical trial searches nearly doubled for the period. Since the launch of the PanCAN Patient Services program in 2002, we have now served more than 65,000 patients and their family members. These services ensure that patients have access to the latest research and treatment options.
  • We provide support for the thousands of volunteers around the country who significantly raise visibility about pancreatic cancer. One way that we raise awareness is through social networking sites like Facebook, where we now have nearly 80,000 friends and 90 local pages. In addition, 63 local Twitter pages have been created for the organization. Platforms such as LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube, extend our outreach through social media even more.

Our volunteers continue to inspire us through their relentless efforts to raise funds and visibility for pancreatic cancer. From July 1 to November 30, volunteers held 123 signature and awareness events nationwide, engaging tens of thousands of supporters and grossing more than $5 million*.

This fall, our presence nationwide increased more than ever before as we partnered with Fox Sports charitable initiative, Fox Sports Supports, and actress Mindy Kaling of The Mindy Project to raise awareness about pancreatic cancer during the 2012-’13 NBA season. (The NHL will also participate in the campaign once their playing season begins.) The on-air campaign is devoted to raising awareness and spurring volunteerism for select health-related charities through on-air mentions, public service announcements and compassionate involvement.

Recognition of the disease advanced even further during National Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month last month when Mindy and our Chief Ambassador of Hope, Lisa Niemi Swayze, asked supporters nationwide to sign up as Visionaries of Progress. To date, more than 3,200 have pledged their support for the cause.

Although historically our movement has grown and become more powerful and visible with each passing year, 2012 was an especially pivotal one. The momentum we have now generated is unparalleled. I encourage you to stay involved and take action in December and beyond by continuing to visit.

These incredible gains are due in large part to you and we sincerely appreciate all of your contributions. Your efforts enable us to invest in the same kind of comprehensive research strategy that produced medical breakthroughs for conditions such as heart disease and some other forms of cancer. More researchers, more investigations and more collaborations are the keys to speeding improved treatments, and eventually, a cure for pancreatic cancer.

I hope you will remain committed to knowing, fighting and ending pancreatic cancer throughout 2013. With steadfast focus and determination, we can all look forward to achieving our goal of doubling the pancreatic cancer survival rate by 2020.

With warmest regards,

Julie Fleshman
President and CEO

*Includes PurpleStride New Jersey which was cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy.