SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — The Stand Up To Cancer telethon on September 9 raised more than $111 million to fund scientific dream teams so they can bring innovative treatments more quickly to cancer patients, including a Bay Area man whose hope has been renewed.
Not too long ago, North Bay resident Ed Levine got some bad news: a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer – a tough one to beat.
“Pancreatic cancer is not a good thing to get. I mean, 74 percent of people are dead within 12 months,” Levine said.
But the Stand Up To Cancer team working in the Bay Area is giving Levine hope.
“Our team, frankly it’s awesome,” said University of California, San Francisco Pancreas Center Director Dr. Margaret Tempero.
“The Stand Up To Cancer team that we’ve been involved with involves really the world’s leading experts in immunotherapy.” explained Dr. Lawrence Fong, also with UCSF.
“We have people who are working out problems in the lab, showing us what they can do, having us apply that to our own patients … (it is) really magical.” added Dr. Tempero.
From San Francisco to the United Kingdom, researchers on the Pancreatic Cancer Dream Team come from nine top research institutions.
The hope is that when leading researchers work together, cutting edge treatments like immunotherapy will reach patients more quickly. Patients like Levine would like a few more powerful options.
“I think it’s all about options,” said Levine.
“It’s time to invest in this disease and give these patients a chance,” explained Dr. Tempero.
With immunotherapy, the idea is to activate a patient’s own immune system to recognize and kill cancer cells.
“Cancer has figured out a way to evade the immune system. So what these new drugs that are coming out do is that they actually allow us to turn on the immune system to really attack the cancer cells,” explained Dr. Fong.
Levine has tried several kinds of treatment, including one immunotherapy that did not work. He’s now trying a different chemo drug to keep his cancer under control until more options can come to light.
Meanwhile, the restauranteur is clear about how he wants to live each moment. “Take every day at a time, and make sure you look back on that day and say that was worthwhile,” said Levine.
Only two percent of federal funding is directed toward Pancreatic Cancer research.