The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network honored the San Diego Padres, the Los Angeles Kings, and veteran NBA referee Greg Willard this weekend. All had been affected by the disease. Longtime bullpen coach Darrel Akerfelds, who passed away at age 50, inspired the Padres to raise money for research. Wandamae Lombardi's brother Thomas was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2009 and inspired the Kings' outreach efforts. Greg Willard received his diagnosis this June, and his battle has touched the NBA community.
Pancreatic cancer is now the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the United States. Early detection is difficult, symptoms are often attributed to other illnesses, and there is a great need for more effective treatments. Although it is one of the deadliest forms of the disease, pancreatic cancer is the focus of only a small percentage of national funding for research. The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network's goal is to double the survival rate by 2020.
In addition to help through the Kings Care Foundation, Los Angeles Kings have held awareness nights and created PSAs to spread the word. Here's the message from Dean and Wandamae Lombardi:
Here is Dustin Brown:
Under ordinary circumstances, the NHL and the NHLPA would be holding a joint fundraising effort this month, Hockey Fights Cancer. The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network was one of five causes aided by those efforts.
I certainly hope this campaign will still take place once the season gets underway. In the meantime, anyone can still help. You can find information about volunteering or donate at www.pancan.org.