By Ilene Kaplan
Bernie and I met in 1962 and began dating off and on throughout college. He proposed to me the same year we met, but I felt that at 17 we were too young to get married. We were married a little more than a decade later on March 17, l973 (St. Patrick’s Day). We began our lives together and started planning for the future, not knowing that he would be taken from me by pancreatic cancer only 36 years later.
On October 21, 1998 I lost my best friend and husband after a short four month battle with pancreatic cancer. At the time, it had only been a year since Agi Hirshberg lost her husband Ron, and the Hirshberg Foundation was the only resource for pancreatic cancer patients and families. Within hours of reaching out to her, Agi responded to my phone call and was there for my daughter and I when Bernie passed away. She became our new family. It is because of her dedication and passion that I want to be a part of helping find an early detection method, and ultimately, a cure. To this day I continue to urge people to help me spread awareness and raise the much needed funds so that other families will not know the pain of the words ‘pancreatic cancer.’ Without the Hirshberg Foundation’s support and friendship over the past 13 years I am not sure how I would have made it through.
This year, in memory of my husband and in honor of our daughter turning 35, I created a You Can Help Fund. The Fund is an amazing tool on the www.pancreatic.org website where I can utilize my personalized webpage as a means of sharing my message of awareness while also encouraging others to support through action. I asked my family and friends to make a donation to my fund so that we can support the Hirshberg Foundation’s mission to find a cure for this horrific disease! I even posted my URL on Facebook and received support from friends and acquaintances that I haven’t even talked to in years, but who wanted to support my cause nonetheless. I am happy to report that we have raised over $5000!!! This amount is even more important because $0.83 of every dollar raised through the Foundation goes directly to research! But the best part of creating a Fund is the fact that it is permanent and will never expire, meaning I can continue to use it as a tool for fundraising and awareness for years to come, or at least until we find the cure!
Thank you to everyone who supported my You Can Help Fund and a big THANK YOU to the Hirshberg Foundation for their relentless passion and commitment to help families and patients that have been touched by pancreatic cancer.