Ann Walsh, Events Director, The Lustgarten Foundation – The Fight Against Pancreatic Cancer
From day one when I was first asked to join The Lustgarten Foundation in 1998, I was – and continue to be – amazed by the tremendous determination and dedication of the tens of thousands of extraordinary people who have joined us in the fight against pancreatic cancer.
At the time, there was little understanding of pancreatic cancer, and only a handful of researchers were studying this disease. Pancreatic cancer is the nation’s most lethal cancer. The overall five-year survival rate is just 7%. There are no early detection tests, no effective long-term treatments and, unless the cancer is surgically removed in its earliest stages, no cure. Yet, only 2% of federal funding is directed toward pancreatic cancer research. To help change these facts, The Lustgarten Foundation, based in Bethpage, Long Island, was established in 1998 by Cablevision Chairman Charles Dolan and Chief Executive James Dolan in honor of former Cablevision Vice Chairman Marc Lustgarten before he died from pancreatic cancer.
Today, I am so proud that The Lustgarten Foundation has grown to become the nation’s largest private funder of pancreatic cancer research. Since its inception, the Foundation has committed more than $110 million to over 175 research projects at nearly 60 medical and research centers worldwide in support of promising pancreatic cancer research aimed at developing an early detection test, improving treatments, and finding a cure. Recently, The Lustgarten Foundation established The Lustgarten Foundation Pancreatic Cancer Research Laboratory on Long Island in partnership with Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. The lab is one of the few labs in the world focused exclusively on pancreatic cancer research. And due to Cablevision’s support of The Lustgarten Foundation, 100 percent of every dollar donated to the Foundation goes directly to pancreatic cancer research.
As events director, I recall my early days at the Foundation and the beginning of The Lustgarten Foundation Pancreatic Cancer Research Walk series. That first walk took place in Long Island, attracting just over 1,000 participants and raised more than $150,000. Today, the Foundation’s walk series now takes places in more than 30 locations across the country, uniting thousands in the fight against this disease. This is in addition to nearly 300 events run by volunteers throughout the year in support of the urgent need to fund more research to find a cure.
I consider myself lucky to have said ‘yes’ when invited so many years ago to work with the Foundation. My life has been transformed. The work is incredibly rewarding. The people I meet at the Foundation’s events across the country are always so inspiring and I am deeply grateful that every day I witness the hope that research brings to so many.
I invite you to see how easy it is to get involved and to learn more at curePC.org. Anyone can get pancreatic cancer, that’s why we need everyone to join us in the fight. Together, we can change the facts about pancreatic cancer.