- Posted Thursday October 24, 2019
Joe Levine is ready to do anything he can to raise awareness of pancreatic cancer at FUNdraiser, supporting clinical trials that prolong patient lives
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Oct. 24, 2019 — Joe Levine, who credits TGen Physician-In-Chief Dr. Daniel Von Hoff for giving him a new lease on life, is not only attending the 14th annual Step-N-Out 5K FUNdraiser for pancreatic cancer research, he’ll be running part of the show.
Joe, a 58-year-old Scottsdale man who was diagnosed with early-stage pancreatic cancer in 2015, will run the survivors’ tent when nearly 1,000 people descend on the Scottsdale Sports Complex, starting at 7:30 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 3, for the Step-N-Out 5k run-walk-dash, benefiting pancreatic cancer research at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), an affiliate of City of Hope.
“I feel I have another 30-40 years because of my wife, and because of the clinical trial that Dr. Von Hoff came up with,” said Levine, who says he has been cancer free since February 2016 when he successfully completed a 6-month clinical trial, using the drug combination of nab-paclitaxel and gemcitabine. That drug combo received FDA approval in 2013 for late-stage pancreatic cancer, following extensive tests run by TGen and HonorHealth. It since has been approved for all pancreatic cancer patients and is considered a standard-of-care treatment.
“I’m very confident my cancer is not coming back,” said Levine, who recently returned to work as a quality-control engineer for a Phoenix-area defense company.
Step-N-Out is a community and family-friendly morning of races, music, games and activities, celebrating TGen's efforts to stomp out this devastating cancer.
“It is extremely gratifying for our TGen research team to understand that this annual event is helping fund clinical trials that are leading to so many pancreatic cancer patients being able to once again enjoy their lives and their families after facing such a devastating illness,” said Erin Massey, Chief Development Officer at TGen and Vice President of Philanthropy at City of Hope. “This is one of our favorite events because the funds we raise through Step-N-Out help enable more patients to receive these lifesaving innovative treatments being developed at TGen, and delivered to patients through our clinical partners.”
Median survival for those with advanced pancreatic cancer was once less than 6 months, and only about 1 in 4 patients survived more than one year.
A recent TGen/HonorHealth study published Oct. 3 in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Oncology, found that adding the drug cisplatin to the nab-paclitaxel/gemcitabine combo — known as the TGen Triple — resulted in substantial tumor shrinkage for 71 percent of patients, and dramatically increased survival beyond one year.
Subsequent and ongoing TGen-designed clinical trials are leading to more patients surviving years longer. Of the 44 pancreatic cancer clinical trials conducted since 1990, only four have extended patient survival, and three of those were led by TGen.
Still, nearly 46,000 Americans in 2019 will succumb to this aggressive disease, the nation’s third leading cause of cancer death, eclipsed only by lung and colon cancers.
Competitive and fun races at Step-N-Out are geared for all ages and abilities, including the event's signature 5K run. Participants can still register at the event, which in past years has raised a total of more than $1 million. Participants don't have to be at Step-N-Out to help; you can donate at events.tgen.org.
If you go to Step-N-Out:
What: TGen's 14th annual Step-N-Out 5K FUNdraiser for pancreatic cancer research.
Where: Scottsdale Sports Complex, 8081 E. Princess Drive, northeast of Hayden and Bell roads, between Loop 101 and Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard.
When: 7:30-noon Sunday, Nov. 3. Registration starts at 7:30 a.m.; a competitive 5K run begins at 9 a.m.; a fun 1-mile run/walk starts at 9:15 a.m.; and a free 50-yard kids' dash is planned for 10:30 a.m.
Cost: Registration fees are $35 for adults; $15 for children age 5-12. Children age 4 and under are free.
More information: Contact Jennie Patel at [email protected] or (602) 343-8725.
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About TGen, an affiliate of City of Hope
Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) is a Phoenix, Arizona-based non-profit organization dedicated to conducting groundbreaking research with life-changing results. TGen is affiliated with City of Hope, a world-renowned independent research and treatment center for cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening diseases: www.cityofhope.org. This precision medicine affiliation enables both institutes to complement each other in research and patient care, with City of Hope providing a significant clinical setting to advance scientific discoveries made by TGen. TGen is focused on helping patients with neurological disorders, cancer, diabetes and infectious diseases through cutting-edge translational research (the process of rapidly moving research toward patient benefit). TGen physicians and scientists work to unravel the genetic components of both common and complex rare diseases in adults and children. Working with collaborators in the scientific and medical communities worldwide, TGen makes a substantial contribution to help our patients through efficiency and effectiveness of the translational process. For more information, visit: www.tgen.org. Follow TGen on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter @TGen.
TGen Senior Science Writer