When the future is now

When the future is now

When the future is now


When longtime TGen donor Diane Matsch first learned of her husband Lee’s pancreatic cancer diagnosis, her sister told her: “Don’t let anyone steal your hope.”

Diane’s sister spoke from experience. Her husband, Diane’s brother-in-law, also was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer — as was Lee’s mother, a cousin, and the sister-in-law of one of Lee’s and Diane’s daughters. All died of pancreatic cancer. 

Now, with her own children — a son and two daughters — in their 50s and 60s, Diane worries about their future. 

Family history is one of the major predictive factors of pancreatic cancer.

“My children are nearing the age where they could be affected by this cancer. That’s why I support TGen and their pancreatic cancer research program,” said Diane, whose husband survived for three years, but eventually succumbed to the disease in 2009.

Over the years, Diane has donated dozens of times to TGen; $200 a month almost every month since Lee’s passing and as much as $1,000 annually in support of TGen’s Step-N-Out 5K event supporting pancreatic cancer research.

Diane, now in her 80s, believes in helping others. Though she never worked outside the home, she has always given her time to worthy causes. 

Today, she volunteers for Project C.U.R.E., the world’s largest distributor of donated medical equipment, including several international trips visiting hospitals in Cuba, Panama and Tanzania.


An Expression of Gratitude

When Diane recounts her reasons for supporting TGen, chief among them is the professional and compassionate care received from Lee’s physician, Dr. Daniel Von Hoff, who leads TGen’s Molecular Medicine Division and is among the world’s leading authorities on pancreatic cancer.

“We were fortunate that, through family and professional connections, we met a wonderful surgeon from Houston, and met with Dr. Von Hoff,” Diane said. “Dr. Von Hoff was so helpful with Lee. His commitment to his patients was evident in the time he took with Lee. He never seemed in a hurry.”

Today, 12 years removed from Lee’s passing, Diane remains convinced that supporting TGen is important. And while 48,000 Americans will succumb to the disease this year, Diane has not lost hope.

One of Lee’s last messages, urging on the fight against pancreatic cancer, remains vital today: “Together, with your support and many others, I am convinced we can make an urgently needed difference in this battle!”

Thanks to Diane and many others who join her in supporting TGen each year, Dr. Von Hoff and his team continue to make progress. 

Last year, a team of TGen and Mayo Clinic researchers published the results of a study in the journal Cancer Research, identifying specific potential therapeutic targets for the most aggressive and lethal form of pancreatic cancer: adenosquamous cancer of the pancreas.

New treatments, early-detection diagnostics, and perhaps even a predictive genetic test, these can’t come quick enough for Diane.

“My hope,” she says, “is that there will come a day when pancreatic cancer is one hundred percent curable.”

Until then, she keeps giving.