Saturday, February 1, 2014

Pushing the Pace for Pancreatic Cancer

A few months ago I decided to run the New York half-marathon for a charity called Project Purple. Project Purple raises money for pancreatic cancer to help patients and their families that are affected by the disease and for research dedicated toward finding a cure. Unfortunately patient aid is almost uniformly palliative, as pancreatic cancer kills most affected within six months of diagnosis. Given that I am a researcher in pancreatic cancer, I know very well what a terrible disease it is and how desperately we need to make significant advances in order to develop better treatments. However, I can also understand why it has been so difficult to make progress, as it is an extremely complex disease with a distinct biology from other cancers. That being said, it is not an impossible one to tackle, and the more we understand it mechanistically the better we will be able to develop efficient therapeutics. This is why I moved to New York. One of the world’s biggest experts in pancreatic cancer has her lab at NYU and I was lucky enough to become a part of it. I am very motivated to contribute to the development of a better understanding of the disease, but also to do what I can outside of the lab to help raise awareness and funding for pancreatic cancer. Project Purple caught my eye because they are unique in that they do all of their fundraising through running events.

At first I was just ecstatic to be able to raise some money for them while training for the New York half-marathon. However, with my background in pancreatic research and in running, I began talking to the chairman about helping out in more ways. They have recently decided to welcome me as part of their team as the official run coach and consultant for the various races they participate in. I feel so lucky to be able to help new and seasoned runners achieve their goals while running for such a great cause. What is more is that most runners that come through Project Purple have been personally affected by pancreatic cancer and have incredible stories to share that will motivate me in my daily research.

With that, I am proud to say that I will now be running for Project Purple and Saucony. I am extremely thankful to Dino Verrelli and the rest of the PP team for being so welcoming and supportive of a little Canadian runner making the big move to New York.

If any of you readers out there would like to contribute to a great cause, here is the link to my Shoeless Coolis fundraising page.

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