Golfers, sponsors and volunteers gathered yesterday at Mercer Oaks in Princeton Junction, N.J., for Kelly’s Heroes 4th Annual Teed Off! Golf Outing to Fight Pancreatic Cancer. They were there taking care of a bit of unfinished business.
“As Steve was going through his treatments in two different clinical trials, he truly believed that the science was getting closer to a breakthrough,” said Kerry McKean Kelly, wife of Kelly’s Heroes inspiration Steve Kelly. “We’re here taking care of Steve’s unfinished business – raising funds and waging hope against pancreatic cancer. So thanks to all of you for being one of Steve Kelly’s Heroes.”
The annual event raised more than $10,000 to support cancer research at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins. Hopkin’s Ellen Roberts was a special guest, sharing details of the promising research of Drs. Dung Le, Lei Zheng and Bert Vogelstein that Kelly’s Heroes supports. Drs. Le and Zheng were part of Steve Kelly’s care team, while Dr. Vogelstein provided Steve expert counsel on new treatments. They are among the nation’s most renowned pancreatic cancer clinicians and researchers. Roberts shared a sampling of their most recent works:
- Vogelstein and his team developed a blood test that screens for eight common types of cancer, including pancreatic. There is no existing screening test for pancreatic cancer. The test, called CancerSEEK, has had very promising results in its early phases. Within a generation, this test could make pancreatic cancer screening a part of routine bloodwork – a true game changer that would save thousands of lives.
- Le, who was part of the team that developed the immunotherapy drug Keytruda, continues to focus on immunotherapy and combination therapies. Her latest research builds on the chemotherapy trial that Steve participated in, testing a cocktail of chemo drugs at lower doses. The goal is to fight tumors while reducing side effects and maintaining the patient’s quality of life – two priorities for Dr. Le.
- Zheng recently was named co-director of the Precision Medicine Center of Excellence for Pancreatic Cancer. He and his colleagues will perform genomic sequencing on every patient to identify the most effective treatment and drugs based on the patient’s individual genetic makeup.
It’s critically important work that wouldn’t be possible without philanthropic support, said Roberts.
“To this day, (Steve’s) courageous struggle and his determination to raise awareness and funding for pancreatic research – and which you continue to do today – inspires us and our colleagues in a quest for a cure,” said Roberts.