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Local Group Pushes Cure for Pancreatic Cancer

Local residents launch nationwide effort to fight pancreatic cancer.
Folks from our region are launching a major grassroots effort to fight one of the deadliest cancers. They're vowing to bring down pancreatic cancer in honor and in the spirit of a Blair County man who lost his life to the disease.

Greg Griffith gave everything he had in the fight against pancreatic cancer. He worked out around the times he had chemo to help his body withstand  the treatments and conquer the disease. He tried alternative methods  to boost his energy and immune system against the cancer.

But after a two year  effort, he lost his life last August at the age of 50. A few weeks before his death he said, "it may be too late for me. I'm okay with that. That's not a big deal, but gosh I don't want to pass this on to my kids."
 
Greg, his family and friends helped raise more than $80,000 dollars to find a cure for pancreatic cancer. Now, Greg's wife Cathy is helping to spearhead the foundation  the couple created to fight pancreatic cancer.

She says, "the scary part is there's so many wonderful people fundraising and there's wonderful doctors, but it's such a hard disease, that we're still at the drawing board. That's sad."

They're putting together a nationwide  alliance of families touched by the pancreatic cancer. Board Member Booker Moore explains, "we are trying to find a way to fund a cure. We've talked to doctors and researchers and our feeling is that's their job to do those sorts of things.  All we can do is raise the money to help get that done."

The group is excited to be working with Dr. James Moser, Greg's doctor at UPMC, who's considered  an expert on pancreatic cancer, and recently  became an associate professor at Harvard Medical School. Their first project: central repository for  medical information learned from patient's like Greg.

"We know that the millions upon millions of dollars that will be necessary to fund the cure may be beyond our intial reach,"  Booker says, "but we certainly can fund the practical elements of having data processing people  to deal with this data,  doing the data mining that goes along with that, to get the info to the researchers, so that you've got the right information to the right people at the right time and you have victories, one patient at a time."

So far,  the foundation has linked up with families throughout Pennsylvania as well as national groups, headquartered in Arizona and Georgia.

Cathy is optimistic that they're moving toward a cure saying, "every day something new comes our way and we're open to it and we do believe."
 
The  Griffith Family Foundation is holding fundraiser Saturday, March 24, called a Movie and a Mission.  It starts at 7 p.m. at the Penn State Altoona Devorris Downtown Center

For information: Greg and Cathy Griffith Family Foundation.
 
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