On Thursday, October 5th, 2023, the Pancreatic Cancer Cure Foundation embarked on a journey of hope and discovery with a visit to the prestigious Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson Health. The day was marked by insightful presentations and heartwarming celebrations, highlighting the latest advancements in pancreatic cancer research and the unwavering support provided by the Patient Support Services team. The event featured distinguished speakers, including Dr. Charles J. Yeo, Dr. Harish Lavu, Molly Vocino, Peter Babrow, Dr. Babar Bashir, Dr. Hien T. Dang, and Dr. Avinoam Nevler. Additionally, the visit began with a joyous celebration of Jean Loggia’s remarkable ten years of being cancer-free, a testament to the extraordinary care provided by Dr. Charles J. Yeo and his team at Jefferson Health.
The visit commenced with an inspiring celebration of Jean Loggia, who, for the past decade, has triumphed over pancreatic cancer. Her remarkable story is a testament to the outstanding care provided by Dr. Charles J. Yeo and his team at Jefferson Health and embodies the power of hope and determination. Our recent event in October, Paint the Trail Purple, was created in 2018 in honor of Jean’s journey.
In attendance were Jane and Tony Cygan, Jessica Stubits and Laura Loggia Depenbusch, along with Jean and Jack Loggia and the one and only Penny, Laura’s 6-month-old daughter. This was a special year, marking 10 years post-diagnosis cancer-free for Jean – an incredible milestone. The Jefferson Health team recognized this significant achievement and treated everyone to champagne and a small cake with a candle to celebrate Jean’s journey.
Dr. Charles J. Yeo, in his address, showcased the impressive successes of Jefferson Health in the fight against pancreatic cancer. Their dedication to research, innovation, and patient care is reflected in the remarkable numbers they’ve achieved. These statistics underscore their commitment to making a meaningful impact in the lives of countless patients.
A highlight of the visit was the update on the Jefferson Pancreas and Tumor Registry (JPTR), which has now grown to include over 1,080 enrolled patients. This registry is a vital resource for researchers and physicians, providing valuable insights into pancreatic cancer and aiding in the development of more effective treatments. The expansion of JPTR emphasizes the importance of data-driven research in the battle against this devastating disease.
Our visit also included presentations from Dr. Babar Bashir, Dr. Hien T. Dang, and Dr. Avinoam Nevler, who shared insights into Jefferson’s groundbreaking Molecular Profiling of Pancreatic Cancer (JMP Pac). This innovative approach holds the promise of revolutionizing the diagnosis and treatment of pancreatic cancer, bringing us closer to personalized and more effective therapies for patients.
The goal is to be able to treat patients early on before they ever get to the later stages of cancer and to identify what is driving each individual’s cancer so they can act against it. With advancements in the drugs being developed through the research at Jefferson, pancreatic cancer can become a druggable cancer for the majority of patients. Because this early molecular profiling is expensive and not covered by insurance, these types of studies and trials are heavily dependent on funds raised by organizations like the Pancreatic Cancer Cure Foundation.
Dr. Harish Lavu also discussed the benefits of artificial intelligence (AI). It used to take one lab’s entire effort for a year to get the structure of one protein. With AI, it’s churning out protein structures hundreds per day, and it’s publicly available. Now, biomedical companies can take these protein structures to create drugs to create protein inhibitors.
The visit emphasized not only the research and statistics but also the human side of the fight against pancreatic cancer. Gregory Garber, MSW, LCSW, Molly Vocino, MSW, LCSW, and Peter Babrow, MSW Student from Patient Support Services, shared their critical role in alleviating the financial burdens that many patients face. They highlighted the various ways their program supports patients with bills, copays, medications, rent, assistive devices, and more, recognizing that sometimes a patient’s cancer is not their sole struggle. The compassionate support provided by the team alleviates the added stress of financial hardships, allowing patients to focus on their recovery.
We cannot conclude this update without expressing our deep gratitude to Jefferson Health for their sponsorship of Amy’s Ride/Run/Walk on May 2023 and their active participation in both our fundraising events Amy’s Ride/Run/Walk and Paint the Trail Purple. Their dedication to raising awareness and funds for pancreatic cancer research is commendable and greatly appreciated.
During the visit, the Pancreatic Cancer Cure Foundation proudly presented Jefferson Health with a $36,000 donation earmarked for pancreatic cancer research and patient support programs. This generous contribution was made possible by the dedication and commitment of our event participants, participant fundraisers, Facebook fundraising donations, company donation matches, and many others who have joined hands in our fight against pancreatic cancer. This donation will undoubtedly make a substantial impact in advancing research and supporting those affected by this challenging disease.
Our visit would not have been possible without the incredible efforts of Kelly Austin, Assistant Vice President of Development, Medicine/Surgery, and Amanda Malinchak, Assistant Director of Development, Medicine/Surgery, and their dedicated team. They have consistently done an incredible job of linking us as a non-profit organization to the vital work being done at Jefferson Health and the profound impact of our donations. Their unwavering support and commitment are instrumental in driving progress in the fight against pancreatic cancer.
Our visit to the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson Health was not just an informative experience; it was a testament to the unwavering dedication of medical professionals, researchers, and our supporters in the fight against pancreatic cancer. The day was filled with hope, inspiration, and a deep sense of community. With continued support and collaboration, we can make a difference in the lives of those affected by this devastating disease. Together, we move closer to a future where pancreatic cancer is no longer a life-threatening diagnosis but a condition with a cure.
We’re thrilled to have been a part of Jefferson’s 18th Annual Pancreatic Cancer and Related Diseases Patient Symposium on Saturday, November 11th. Read our blog post of the Symposium for more information from presentations and photos of the event.
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