One of the more sobering statistics of pancreatic cancer is the fact there are so few survivors of this disease to tell their story and advocate for increased research.
As a result, those who tirelessly volunteer their time and energy to further this cause are the family members and friends who have lost a loved one to pancreatic cancer, or those in the medical profession dedicated to making substantial advances in early diagnostic tests and treatments.
WINGS OF HOPE for Pancreatic Cancer Research was founded by Maureen Shul in honor of her mother, Blanche, and brother, Victor, both of whom she lost to pancreatic cancer.
While then Mayor of the City of Castle Pines, Maureen was constantly at Victor’s side from the time of his diagnosis until his courageous four year fight with the disease ended in May 2009. Months after losing her brother, Maureen’s mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, this in addition to the Alzheimer’s disease she had been diagnosed with eight years earlier. Three months later in January 2010, Blanche Shul passed away from pancreatic cancer, never cognizant of the fact her son had succumbed to the same relentless disease just months earlier.
As a result of what her mother and brother endured, Maureen continues to raise awareness and research funding through WINGS OF HOPE for Pancreatic Cancer Research for the pancreatic cancer research and treatments taking place at the University of Colorado Cancer Center.
Maureen, elected first Mayor of the City of Castle Pines after leading the effort to incorporate, is President of a brokerage firm she founded 20 years ago to assist retirees with investments and long term care. Also involved with the Alzheimer’s Association, Maureen is a support group leader to caregivers and testified before the State Legislature to ensure Colorado Life Trak became a statewide program to assist those prone to wander.
Maureen currently is sought by various groups to speak on the lessons of life and leadership she obtained through her experiences as mayor, business owner, community activist and founder of an organization to help fund research and find a cure for one of the deadliest known cancers.
Colin D. Weekes, M.D., Ph.D. is an assistant professor at the University of Colorado Cancer Center. His research interest is the development of novel therapies to treat pancreas cancer. He directs the clinical pancreas cancer program, which utilizes an array of clinical trials to attempt to advance pancreas cancer therapy. He is also a member of the developmental therapeutics team. This affords him the opportunity to treat patients with cutting edge therapies. In addition, he directs a translational research lab focused on utilizing pancreas cancer biology to develop novel molecular based cancer therapies. Dr. Weekes is an active member of the Pancreatic Cancer Research Team (PCRT), American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR).
Jim Comerford is a pancreatic cancer survivor, one of only 5% of those diagnosed with this disease to survive. Jim attributes his survival to his timely diagnosis and successful surgery (Whipple Procedure) at St. Mary’s Medical Center in Grand Junction in September, 2010, and to the excellent chemo-radiation and follow-up care he has received at the University of Colorado Cancer Center. Jim and his wife, Janet, are passionate about increasing awareness of pancreatic cancer and the critical importance of early detection. They also want to share the good news – that the world class treatment and research programs at the University of Colorado Cancer Center, in cooperation with other leading hospitals in the region, are creating better outcomes and increasing hope in the battle against this leading cancer killer. Jim and Janet live in Grand Junction, CO.
Melanie Avner is an independent writing and editing professional with more than 15 years experience in public relations and marketing. When Melanie lost her mother, Jean Crua Wallace, to pancreatic cancer in 2008 after only a four-month battle with the disease, Melanie used her training and background in communications to help raise awareness about pancreatic cancer. Melanie appeared on Fox 31 News twice, had an opinion piece published in the Denver Post and was featured on a local radio program to educate people about the warning signs of pancreatic cancer and the lack of federal funding available to fight this deadly disease.
Melanie currently writes and edits a variety of communications materials, including Web site copy, fund raising appeals, press releases, and social media content for clients in both the nonprofit and for-profit sectors. Melanie lives in Denver with her husband and two children.
JOIN THE EFFORT…BE A PART OF THE POSSIBLE, BE THE HOPE.