Group gives 'hope' in seed money for pancreatic cancer research

CINCINNATI -- Pancreatic cancer robbed Susan Hunt of time with her best friend, Beth. 

"She was too young," Hunt said. "We should have had another 20 years."

The loss hurts, but Beth's diagnosis sent Hunt on a mission. She created an all-volunteer group called Give Hope. It raises seed money for research of treatments and cures. Hunt said she's proof that anyone can do it.

"I don't want any other family to go through this," she said. 

According to Hunt, researchers need to get preliminary data to get funding from the big cancer foundations. It's hard to get money to do that, but the data make bigger grant funding and then new drugs and approaches possible. 

Dr. Syed Ahmad and researcher Vladimir Bogdanov from the University of Cincinnati Cancer Institute live the process. 

"Bench to bedside. That means these ... lab benches, that's where every idea begins, every drug begins," Ahmad said. "And then with enough time and resources, it gets to the bedside, gets to the patient."

Bogdanov said Give Hope has helped with the dollars to get things going in pancreas cancer research at UC. 

"So now we can go ahead and do much more significant studies to forward for clinical trials," he said. 

Hunt said the seed money Give Hope raised has generated almost $2 million in research funding for pancreatic cancer at UC. University officials said after three years, they get $35 for every $1 in seed money.

If raising a little money can mean best friends get more time together, Hunt said it's worth it. She finds inspiration in a plaque from her bestie.

"It says, 'The ones who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones that do,'" Hunt said.

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