One of the pleasures of being apart of our organization is the wonderful people we meet. Most often we become instant extended family members, bound by our quest for helping those touched by pancreatic cancer. One of our treasured friends is Heather Stevens.
Heather, with her radiant smile, dogmatic perseverance and gentle soul has been a part of our organization for the past four years. After her diagnosis of pancreatic cancer and post Whipple surgery, she joined our efforts to raise awareness and offered her help to newly diagnosed patients. We fell in love with Heather and her 14 year old son Connor instantly. We have shared wonderful times through foundation events such as the LA Cancer Challenge. For the past two years Heather and Connor traveled with us to Vancouver to cheer on our Marathon Training Team. I know that her mere presence helped all of us finish the long race.
In 2005 her cancer unfortunately returned. A treatment available in Basel, Switzerland was suggested to Heather by her UCLA oncologist. Neuroendocrine (slow growing) tumors had been successfully treated with a novel “radiolabelled somostatin analogue octreotate”. It took the Foundation twenty-four hours to research the treatment and to decide that this procedure was an option for our Heather. This treatment was not covered by insurance for pancreatic cancer patients in the United States. A special “Hope for Heather” fund was created by friends, family and the Hirshberg Foundation to make the journey possible to Basel in three different 7-day installments.
Heather is still fighting for her life as the treatment left her immune system compromised with her bone marrow in a depleted state. Her endurance and positive attitude is an inspiration to all of us. Her beautiful smile and hopeful spirit is etched in our hearts. We wish her continued strength to continue to fight pancreatic cancer.
Heather touched the lives of so many and her story has remained in our hearts and minds for over a decade. Her beautiful smile and hopeful spirit is etched in our hearts. Her endurance and positive attitude is an inspiration to all of us to never give up.