“With the holiday season approaching, Ali, Liz and I wanted to propose that, like last year, instead of gifts we all make donations in Aunt Jane’s name to PanCAN. We think it would be a continued way to both mark the holiday and contribute to the efforts PanCAN is making.”

So began the letter that Jane Negrin’s three nieces, Kate, Ali and Liz, emailed to family before the start of Hanukkah this year.

Negrin – Aunt Jane – passed away of pancreatic cancer in September 2016.

This holiday season marked the second that the family has made donations to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN) – in lieu of giving each other gifts – to pay tribute to the inspiring, loving and wonderfully positive Jane, whom they all adored.

“This is one way that we can honor my sister and celebrate being a family in the midst of our tragic loss,” said Harvey Doppelt, Jane’s brother and uncle to Kate, Ali and Liz.

“These three marvelous women are selfless,” he said of his nieces. “They reminded us that we have enough, and the most important part of the holiday is being together and being able to contribute to pancreatic cancer research – and to society – at the same time.”

Doppelt’s college-aged son, Eric, is also accustomed to giving back to PanCAN to honor and remember his beloved aunt.

When Jane was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2013, Eric and Jane formed Team Jane to fundraise for PurpleStride New Jersey. Since then, Team Jane has raised many thousands of dollars for PanCAN and participates in multiple PurpleStride walks across the country.

Jane is fondly remembered as the family’s bright light.

“Whatever you were passionate about, she would meet you there,” Doppelt said. “Whatever your troubles were, she would help you with them.”

Within minutes of the Hanukkah email being sent, the responses enthusiastically poured in. “Let’s do it!” people said. “Great idea!” they encouraged.

“After Jane died, there was a very big void left for all of us,” Doppelt said. “Making donations to PanCAN in her memory keeps Jane’s flame bright in our family. It allows us to step away from our tears and keeps our connection to her very real.”

He encouraged other families and friends to also consider donations to PanCAN instead of exchanging gifts this holiday season.

“We’re just one family out of millions of Americans. Wouldn’t it be great to see even a few hundred people who have been impacted by pancreatic cancer do the same thing? Instead of holiday spending on things we don’t need, consider donating money as a family to a good cause.

“And it doesn’t matter the amount. It’s the simple act of just doing it.”

A donation in your loved one’s name will support research, patient services and PanCAN’s many programs benefiting patients and families. A Consumer Reports article on the “Best and Worst Charities for Your Donations” recently cited PanCAN as one of its top five high-rated cancer charities.