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  • Posted Thursday October 21, 2021

27-year pancreatic cancer survivor participates in TGen’s 16th annual Step-N-Out 5K ‘FUNdraiser’ for cancer research

It’s not too late for participants to join either virtually or in-person Nov. 7 at the Scottsdale Sports Complex

PHOENIX, Ariz. — Oct. 21, 2021 — In the world of pancreatic cancer, early is everything. Early detection and early treatment are among the reasons we have survivors like Kay Kays.

To survive, Kays has endured multiple surgeries, including the Whipple procedure — a complex operation in which doctors remove the head of the pancreas, part of the small intestine, the gallbladder and the bile duct. Over the ensuing years, as her cancer spread to other parts of her body, doctors removed her entire pancreas, spleen, lymph nodes, and part of a lung.

Still, she keeps going, and is even participating in TGen’s 16th annual 5K Step-N-Out run, walk, dash — supporting pancreatic cancer research — Nov. 7 at the Scottsdale Sports Complex, 8081 E. Princess Drive. The fun begins at 7:30 a.m. and runs through 11:30 a.m.

Under the care of Dr. Daniel D. Von Hoff, M.D., a Distinguished Professor at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), an affiliate of City of Hope, Kays has survived one of the deadliest of all cancers for more than 27 years. On average, fewer than 1-in-10 patients survive more than 5 years.

“I might not have all of my organs, but I have something more precious: I have hope,” said Kays, who encourages everyone to join her at Step-N-Out.

Because of the COVID pandemic, last year’s Step-N-Out was only held virtually. This year, with many people vaccinated and public health protocols in place, TGen is giving participants a choice to attend virtually or in-person.

To register, please go to and click on TGen's Step-n-Out 5K FUNdraiser. Registration is available right up until the day of the event.

Various registration levels are available from $20-$40; just $20 for children aged 6-12; and free for children aged 5 or under. There’s even a “Sleep in for Research” option for those who don’t attend but still want to save lives and help wipe out pancreatic cancer.

One of the founders of Step-N-Out

Kays — one of the founders and chair of the first Step-N-Out, who has participated every year since its inception in 2006 — has also organized support groups, helping other pancreatic cancer patients come to terms with their conditions and learn how to maintain an active role in their treatments.

“In the many years I’ve fought this disease, I’ve experienced renewed hope and have passed that hope on to others, teaching cancer patients that it’s OK to ask questions, seek second opinions, switch doctors, advocate for themselves and have a say in their treatments,” said Kays, who sings the praises of Dr. Von Hoff, considered one of the world’s leading authorities on pancreatic cancer.

“He gave us optimism when we had none, and he changed the game for us during the single-most-difficult time in our lives,” she said. “He has given us a reason to believe that a cure is not some far-off fantasy, but rather a real, tangible reality.”

Amiee Lay, TGen Foundation events manager, expects hundreds of participants at this year’s event: “Step-N-Out unites survivors, loved ones, caregivers, medical professionals and supporters from across the nation in the fight against pancreatic cancer. With your support, TGen can help more patients like Kay Kays survive this dreaded disease.”

For questions, contact Lay at 602-343-8502 or 760-310-6023, or email her at [email protected].

Also, contact her to learn how to become a business sponsor, or go to


Various registration levels are available:

Cancer Survivor: $25
Adult in-person 5K walk/run: $40 (timed) $35 (not timed)
Virtual walk/run: $40
Child (aged 6 to 12) 5K walk/run: $20
Adult 1-mile run/walk: $30
Kid’s Dash: Free to children aged 5 and under
Sleep in for Research: $25

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About TGen, an affiliate of City of Hope
Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) is a Phoenix, Arizona-based nonprofit 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:  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: Follow TGen on FacebookLinkedIn and Twitter @TGen.

Media Contact:
Steve Yozwiak
TGen Senior Science Writer
[email protected]

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