Pancreatic cancer survivor at PanCAN PurpleStride 5K

Ian and Beth Slepian at a PanCAN PurpleStride event

Editor’s note: April 18-24 is Volunteer Appreciation Week and we’re turning the spotlight on some of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network’s (PanCAN) invaluable volunteers, who really make it all happen. We’re grateful for their energy and enthusiasm every day.

Tomorrow is volunteer Beth Slepian’s five-year survivorship anniversary.

Caucasian woman undergoing chemo

Beth has undergone 107 chemo treatments and is a five-year survivor.

After 107 chemo sessions and counting, pancreatic cancer survivor Beth Slepian still has a lot to give.

Beth and husband Ian are triple threats; both are active PanCAN volunteers, advocates and fundraisers.

In 2020, amidst a global pandemic and in between her chemo courses, Team Beth and Ian raised nearly $20,000 for PanCAN’s PurpleStride Maryland.

Beth said, “You have to ask everyone you know, including acquaintances. We used PanCAN’s fundraising tools to keep track of who we asked, who contributed, who we thanked and who needed a reminder (or two).”

When PurpleStride events turned virtual, Ian committed to a 40-mile bike ride to show their contributors that he was willing to put in the effort, too.

Caucasian man in his 60s with Caucasian congress person

Ian at a public consumer protection meeting hosted by Congressman Sarbanes.

Beth and Ian are also fierce advocates for federal funding for pancreatic cancer research. Ian makes it a point to connect with their Congressman not only during PanCAN’s Advocacy Week but throughout the year. He recently wrote to thank him, saying, “After 107 rounds of chemo, my wife hopes to enter a clinical trial soon. Your support of research makes this possible!”

Beth and Ian regularly provide support and hope to others who may be suffering because of the disease.

Recently, in the oncology waiting room, Beth met another pancreatic cancer survivor. She told him her story. “He said he’d never met a pancreas cancer patient who has lived so long. If I provided him with some hope then it was worth it to share my journey.”

Part of what fuels the couple to do everything they do is their gratitude for Beth’s “beating the odds.” Only 3% of stage IV pancreatic cancer patients live five years.

The other thing that inspires them are the connections they’ve made. Beth said, “There’s a fun, friendly rivalry in the Maryland Affiliate – we all get excited about everyone meeting their fundraising goals. The warmth and desire to support and help others is genuine.”

Professionally, Beth was a special education teacher for 15 years and a social worker for 14 years.  She had to retire from social work because the chemo side effects got in the way of her giving 100%.

Caucasian husband and wife in their 60s, smiling

Beth and Ian met on a blind date and have been married for 35 years.

Beth and Ian met on a blind date and connected immediately. From the start, Beth noticed Ian’s thoughtfulness, devotion to family and his dry sense of humor. She said it’s been a wonderful 35 years together.

Beth says it’s her marriage to Ian and his dedication to her that give her hope she can beat this disease. She calls him her “rock.” Ian researches treatments and clinical trials and makes connections with the top cancer centers and oncologists.

She said, “He gives me unwavering support in more ways than I can list. He does the work so that I can concentrate on living forward.

“I have known since we first met that Ian would do anything for me.”

Contact a Patient Central Associate
PanCAN is here to help. Contact Patient Services for free, in-depth and personalized pancreatic cancer resources.