Attendees at PanCAN leadership and scientific meeting gather for a presentation.

PanCAN’s annual Volunteer Leadership Summit and Scientific Summit 2018 was attended by volunteer leaders, scientific researchers and more.

The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN) held its annual Volunteer Leadership Summit and Scientific Summit Aug. 23-26, 2018, in San Diego.

More than 250 attendees, including PanCAN’s volunteer leaders, survivors, its Board of Directors and Scientific and Medical Advisory Board, research grantees, industry leaders and special guests, were on hand for presentations, interactive discussions, networking and training, as well as the latest updates on progress toward PanCAN’s goal of doubling survival by 2020.

The theme of this year’s event was, “Unlock Your Superpowers,” in tribute to the superheroes in attendance and nationwide leading the charge to rewrite the future of pancreatic cancer.

PanCAN Board of Directors Chair with PanCAN President and CEO

PanCAN Board of Directors Chair Jeanne Weaver Ruesch, left, with Julie Fleshman, PanCAN president and CEO.

Board of Directors Chair Jeanne Weaver Ruesch addressed the superhero attendees during a moving speech on the final evening of the event. Here, we share her remarks:

Two days ago, we came together at Summit 2018 to share our stories and our dreams.

Stories of sadness, loss, pain and suffering.

Stories of scientific discovery, intellectual curiosity and sacrifice for years of training.

Stories of leadership, advocacy, commitment and caring.

As our stories are woven together, they have created a beautiful tapestry filled with big dreams, transformational projects and unconditional hope.

This is work for superheroes. And, it is this shared story that gives us the superpowers to do things that have never been done before.

We are a Community of Progress – and a community of superheroes. And YOU – each of you – is a superhero. Thank you for creating hope.

Thank you – the survivors of this terrible disease who remind us of our purpose and give us hope for the future. You are our superheroes.

Attendees dress in capes as part of the meeting’s superhero theme.

The theme of Summit 2018 was “Unlock Your Superpowers,” and attendees playfully donned capes to get into the spirit.

Thank you – the volunteers from around our great country who tirelessly give of your time and passion.  You are our superheroes.

Thank you – the scientists, researchers, clinicians and grantees who have dedicated your work to the discovery of new ways to improve patient outcomes and – yes – cure pancreatic cancer.  You are our superheroes.

Thank you – our donors and corporate partners who place your faith in us – in the Community of Progress we have built. You share our belief that we can change the course of this disease. You are our superheroes.

Thank you – the staff of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network who work so tirelessly to bring us together, to encourage our dreams and to guide our work. You are our superheroes.

In this epic fight to rid the world of pancreatic cancer, we have our own Wonder Woman. She is a superhero who shows us the power of our stories to break down walls, overcome challenges and focus on our goal.

Julie [Fleshman] has built this remarkable organization. An organization that has changed the national conversation about this deadly cancer. She has dedicated her life’s work to creating a future for the victims of this terrible disease. She is showing us how to shine a light on pancreatic cancer. She is our superhero for her vision, her leadership and her fierce determination to change the course of this dreaded disease. Thank you, Julie.

As we leave this 2018 Summit, feeling optimistic, hopeful and inspired, let our voices ring out–

In the halls of Congress,

In the journals of science,

In the laboratories of discovery, and

In the homes of the 54,000 patients who will face the disease this year.

We can Demand Better.  We can create hope.