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2013 Highlights of Hope

  • Text
  • Institute
  • Detroit
  • Treatments
  • Eboni
  • October
  • Michigan
  • Researchers
  • Rapids
  • Pancreatic

More than 100

More than 100 participants at the Mari J. Meyer pancreatic cancer Trail Run for Hope raised ,000 for pancreatic cancer research at VAI. Cover Story: Susan Brogger Fights Cancer with Successful 5K Run to Provide Hope When Susan Brogger’s mother, Mari J. Meyer, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, Susan had all the hope in the world that she would get better. “My mom was my best friend,” Susan said. Unfortunately, Susan and her family soon discovered that Mari’s condition would not improve, and the cancer was terminal. Mari’s diagnosis is not uncommon. Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the United States. The National Cancer Institute projects more than 45,000 new cases of the disease in 2013 and more than 38,000 deaths. Pancreatic cancer often spreads rapidly and is seldom detected in its early stages. Symptoms may not appear until the cancer is advanced and surgical removal is no longer an option. Mari died a brief ten weeks after she began noticing the symptoms of the devastating illness in 2012. She spent her last days living with her daughter Susan where she was surrounded by her loving family. Susan and her two brothers, Dan and Eric, became her mother’s primary caretakers and witnessed how quickly her mother succumbed to the illness. Susan’s experience helped her understand that early detection and improved treatments can make a significant difference when a patient is fighting cancer. “When I saw all that was happening with my mom, I thought, ‘you mean to tell me we couldn’t have found this quicker?’ ” said Susan. When her mother passed away Susan felt as though she needed to do something. A chance meeting with a friend led Susan to Van Andel Institute’s Purple Community. Motivated by the organization’s grass-roots fundraising efforts in support of biomedical research into cancer, Susan decided to organize her own Purple Community 5K race and donate the funds to pancreatic cancer research at Van Andel Institute. “My mom had every intention of beating her cancer. She once told a nurse ‘I still have plans for my future and things that I want to accomplish’,” said Susan. “I want someone 4

F thank You West Michigan Whitecaps! Learn about VAI’s recent strides in pancreatic cancer research on page 6 else to have the chance that my mom didn’t get…I have to do this, it’s not just for my mom, it’s about giving other people hope,” The Mari J. Meyer Pancreatic Cancer Trail Run for Hope was Susan’s first time organizing an event of this scale, but the September 14 event drew more than 100 runners and raised more than ,000 for Van Andel Institute. Throughout all the planning and hard work, Susan remained motivated by the possibility that her event could have a direct impact on biomedical research into improved cancer detection and treatments for patients. She plans to make the run an annual event. Van Andel Institute (VAI) would like to thank the West Michigan Whitecaps for hosting the fourth annual Purple Game. The July 31 game featured foam finger and t-shirt giveaways, a 50/50 raffle benefiting VAI, and post-game fireworks. Susan Brogger and her family threw out the first pitch. Susan lost her mother, Mari J. Meyer, to pancreatic cancer in 2012. “Our family loves baseball, and so did my mom, so it is really touching to be involved at this level. I see this as a chance for me to jumpstart my personal battle against cancer,” Susan said. Thanks to all the Purple Community supporters who joined us at the game, which raised more than ,500 for Van Andel Institute! “I cannot change the fact that the Lord called my mom home, but because of her struggle with such a deadly disease, we can band together and fight hard so that earlier detection and more effective treatments can be found,” said Susan. “It is my goal that this annual event will give someone else the hope that my mom didn’t get a chance to have.” Susan understands that there are thousands of people out there fighting cancer and caring for those who are affected by its symptoms. She hopes that her work with Purple Community inspires others to take action and do something to ensure that research into cancer has the power to bring forth new and improved care and treatment for patients. “It’s time to stop letting cancer win, to stop backing down and saying ‘it’s over’, and to start looking cancer in the face and promise each person fighting this battle that we will carry on the fight until we win the war.” 7 5

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