Pemberville walk to benefit pancreatic cancer researchWritten by Brian Bohnert | | email@example.com
Robert Kohring Sr. was always the picture of health.
The 78-year-old walked miles a day, exercised regularly and even enjoyed playing basketball every now and then.
But in March 2010, the spry, athletic former Marine was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, a quick and silent killer.
“Going from a man who we thought would end up living to be 100 to him passing away 54 days later, it was scary,” said his daughter, Lori Laake.
Laake and her siblings have since donated their time and money to fighting pancreatic cancer, striving for advancements in early detection — a key component Laake believes could have saved her father’s life.
“It’s the fourth deadliest cancer and the statistics have not changed in 25 years,” Laake said. “When you think of that, it’s pretty scary. … There have been great strides made in early detection, but we’re not there yet.”
To help raise money for pancreatic cancer research, Laake and her siblings will sponsor a memorial walk in Pemberville on Aug. 19. The event is hosted by The Lustgarten Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising money and awareness for the illness.
The walk starts at 1 p.m. in downtown Pemberville, beginning at the Pemberville Fire Department and looping for three miles.
Laake, a Dayton resident, said she chose to host the walk in Pemberville for the sentimental ties.
“Dad was born in Pemberville and he spent virtually his entire life there,” Laake said. “This is the town he would walk all these miles in and everybody knew him. So, we figured what better place to do it then where he was born, raised and died.”
The $30 preregistration fee can be paid on The Lustgarten Foundation’s website or there is a $35 registration fee the day of the walk. There will be a raffle featuring gift baskets and Lustgarten bracelets, Laake said.
Florence O’Berg, walk manager for Lustgarten, said Cablevision, the company that helped found The Lustgarten Foundation, underwrites all administrative costs to ensure that 100 percent of the proceeds go to pancreatic cancer research. The Lustgarten Foundation was founded by and named after Marc Lustgarten, a Cablevision executive who died from pancreatic cancer in 1999. He was 52 years old.
“All of the money raised goes directly to research,” O’Berg said. “Since 1998, $42 million has been given to research through The Lustgarten Foundation.”
O’Berg said there are 115 research projects at 41 medical and research centers worldwide benefitting from money The Lustgarten Foundation has raised.
Anyone interested in donating to pancreatic cancer research can contact The Lustgarten Foundation by calling their toll-free number at (866) 789-1000 or visiting www.lustgarten.org.
A silent killer
According to statistics from the National Cancer Institute, the median age at diagnosis for pancreatic cancer from 2005-09 was 71, with 27.8 percent of diagnoses between the ages of 75 and 84. Kohring was 78 when he was diagnosed in 2010.
Dr. Jeffrey Muler, an oncologist and hematologist at the HOA Cancer Center in Sylvania, said pancreatic cancer is so deadly because no reliable early screenings exist and the disease does not respond to treatments like other forms of cancer might.
“It has a tendency to spread early and it is harder to treat with chemotherapy or radiation than with other cancers like leukemia,” Muler said.
While pancreatic cancer survival rates are generally low, Muler said it all depends on the type of cancer and the stage of development.
“If you look at metastatic pancreatic carcinomas, the survival rate can be around six months. With aggressive treatment, it can be extended to 11 or 12 months. If the patient has surgery, the survival rate at five years can be from 10 to 25 percent,” Muler said.
According to The Lustgarten Foundation’s statistics, there are an estimated 44,303 new cases of pancreatic cancer each year. Of those patients, 37,660 will not survive.
“The one-year survival rate is 26 percent and the five-year survival rate is 6 percent,” O’Berg said. “And the only way we’re going to change that is through research.”
Walking for a cure
There are about 25 people registered for the walk and Laake said she expects more. Reporter and TV personality Susan Ross Wells will attend the walk. She lost her father to pancreatic cancer when she was a child, Laake said.
“I don’t want people to feel isolated by this cancer, so this is a way to draw people together and get people involved,” Laake said. “I believe there is a cure. I have hope. I don’t want my father to die in vain.”
For more information, visit www.lustgarten.org.