Pancreas Matters letter, Laurie MacCaskill

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A Message from the President and CEO:

The guest columnist this month is Laurie MacCaskill. Laurie is the new Chair of our National Board of Directors and a seven-year pancreatic cancer survivor. She is the first survivor to hold this position. Since her diagnosis in 2006, Laurie has served as a tireless volunteer and advocate for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.

Laurie MacCaskill joined our National Board of Directors in 2009 and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with her in her new role as chair. Laurie has an extensive background in advertising, having worked with major publications such as Time, Newsweek, Sports Illustrated and U.S. News & World Report, and with the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency. She also has co-owned a commercial design firm and trained Fortune 500 company executives on honing their communication skills. She brings a wealth of professional knowledge and leadership to the chair role, but also firsthand perspective as a pancreatic cancer survivor. Laurie’s perspective is compelling and authentic. I hope you take a few moments to read more about her and the experiences she has had being a part of our urgent movement.

With warm regards,

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

Dear Pancreatic Cancer Action Network Supporters,

Laurie MacCaskill

As a seven-year pancreatic cancer survivor, I am honored to be the new board chair of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and the first survivor to serve in this position. I take this role very seriously and look forward to serving the pancreatic cancer community in this capacity. I want to sincerely thank our immediate past chair, Peter Kovler, whose leadership and unwavering support of this organization for the past three years has been remarkable.

After being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer seven years ago, I learned about the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and was instantly drawn in by the people and passion of the organization. Through this remarkable organization, I have met many tireless volunteers and supporters who give me incredible hope and inspiration for the future. I look forward to having the opportunity to meet many of you as I travel around in the country over the next two years in my role as chair.

Dreams don’t happen because we dream them…they happen because we do something about them.

One of the many things that have made me extremely proud to be associated with this organization was the historical passing of the Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act on January 2, 2013. I marched on Capitol Hill with many of you for the past five years and because we never gave up, we were able to get the bill over the finish line. And just like that bill, I know that there are so many other awe-inspiring accomplishments that we can achieve together to significantly improve patient outcomes with early diagnostics and effective treatment options, and eventually, one day, a cure.

Although the bill has passed, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done on the advocacy front, but progress is being made. For example, one of the many important topics we are covering in this issue of Pancreas Matters is that the National Cancer Institute (NCI) has taken an important first step toward implementing part of the Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act. The NCI issued a report recently entitled "Pancreatic Cancer: Scanning the Horizon for Focused Interventions," which includes priority pancreatic cancer research initiatives to help accelerate scientific advances in pancreatic cancer. I encourage each and every one of you to click to read more about this important milestone.

This report comes on the heels of our seventh annual Pancreatic Cancer Advocacy Day, attended by more than 550 pancreatic cancer advocates, including researchers, survivors, family members and supporters, urging their members of Congress to create a permanent fix to sequestration and provide sustained and adequate funding for the National Institutes of Health and NCI. These efforts are more urgent than ever to ensure that we are able to leverage the pancreatic cancer research initiatives that come out of the Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act, like those identified in the report recently released by NCI.

In addition to our advocacy efforts, our PurpleStride events nationally are attracting more and more volunteers and participants and raising more funds to move the mission of the organization forward. For example, two days before Advocacy Day, nearly 5,000 supporters hit the streets of Washington, DC, and raised an unprecedented $760,000. Purple power was out in full force! Our affiliates in Delaware, Denver, Cleveland, Connecticut, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Northeastern Pennsylvania, Omaha and San Francisco also had tremendous PurpleStride events during the month of June and went on to raise nearly $1,361,000 with more than 12,000 participants! In addition, our Puget Sound affiliate hosted their annual Celebration of Hope and raised $415,000.

I am absolutely thrilled to serve as the chair of this organization and represent pancreatic cancer patients and their families. In the next issue of Pancreas Matters we will report on the progress we are making toward our goal to double the pancreatic cancer survival rate by the year 2020, as well as share with you the success of our Fiscal Year 2012-2013 and the impact you have made in growing our movement.

Each and every one of you is making a difference AND together we are making history!

Again, I look forward to serving this community as chair of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and I look forward to working with you.

In gratitude and in commitment,

Laurie MacCaskill
Chair, National Board of Directors, Pancreatic Cancer Action Network
Seven-year pancreatic cancer survivor, advocate, volunteer and donor