11.6.15  Issue

by Jon Aronson

You may have noticed that the logo on our masthead looks a little different this week. It’s purple, in honor of those who fight pancreatic cancer, their families and those who have lost someone to this horrible disease. November is pancreatic cancer awareness month.

The American Cancer Society predicts that in 2015 alone, approximately 49,000 people have been be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer; for more than 40,000 of them it has been or will be fatal. Pancreatic cancer accounts for about 3% of all cancer diagnoses in the United States, and 7% of all cancer deaths.

A lasting tribute to my father is underway, as a bold effort has kicked off to fund cutting edge research aimed at identifying biomarkers in diabetic patients. These biomarkers would warrant further screening for pancreatic cancer. The research grant has been named after the late Robert (Bob) Aronson, who was an Omaha native. My siblings and I hope to make a lasting impact in the fight against pancreatic cancer in honor of our dad.

When Bob Aronson established the Lenore Simon Aronson Education Fund for the Jewish federation of Omaha Foundation in 1997, he did more than create opportunities for Jewish women to follow their dreams of teaching. He also instilled in his own children the desire to give back and create hope. Robert grew up in Omaha, and graduated from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, and ingrained the Husker spirit in his children from a young age: hard work, family, and giving.

The research into the identification of biomarkers is taking place at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, under the supervision of Dr. Aniban Maitra. Over the past decade, Dr. Maitra and his team have made several seminal observations in the biology and genetics of pancreatic cancer.

“My ultimate research goal is to identify a blood test that any adult walking into a doctor’s office can get for pennies on the dollar,” Dr. Maitra said. “This will help identify pancreatic cancer before it becomes inoperable.” Maitra was awarded this $200,000 grant from the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, PanCAN, based out of Manhattan beach, CA.

The funding has been guaranteed by Bob’s children. Molly, Tom, Jackie, myself and Bob’s grandson Bobby were intimately impacted by the news of this specific research, due to the direct link to Bob’s diagnosis. Bob was diagnosed with type 2 Diabetes approximately 12 months before his eventual diagnosis of stage 4 pancreatic cancer. He passed away on Nov. 28, 2006 after a heroic battle.

“It’s hard not to think of all the memories we could have had with Dad if this cutting edge research had taken place sooner,”  Tom, said. “Dad was always so healthy. To think we could have known about the cancer a year earlier, when he was diagnosed with Diabetes, it would have made an incredible difference.”

All of us Aronson kids are determined to raise these funds, which will equip Dr. Maitra and his team with the needed resources to make truly impactful strides in how pancreatic cancer is diagnosed and treated.

It is incredible to see the reaction and participation from our friends and family. We are very excited about the possibility of making a lasting impact in this fight, with our Dad’s name linked to it.

For more information about the continued fight against pancreatic cancer, please visit https://www.razoo.com/story/Pancreaticcanceractionnetwork.