Pancreatic cancer will be second-leading cause of cancer death by 2030

pancreatic cancer

Diane Simeone, M.D.

A new analysis out today projects that pancreatic cancer will be the second-leading cause of cancer death in the United States by 2030, behind lung cancer. Pancreatic cancer will leapfrog breast cancer, prostate cancer and colorectal cancer, which are currently top killers. The analysis is from the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.

We talked with Diane Simeone, M.D., director of the University of Michigan Pancreatic Cancer Center, about what this new analysis means. Dr. Simeone, a pancreatic cancer surgeon and researcher, is on the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network’s National Scientific Continue reading

Common Man to Ironman

Part 2

Robert Skorupski is a Spartan in Michigan territory and shares his story on how and why he decided to raise money for pancreatic cancer research at the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center. You can find out more about his and his families journey on his blog or his Facebook page.



There were two major fundraising efforts this year. The first one was a golf outing we held in Ralph’s honor.  Golf was a true passion of Ralph’s. He loved the game of golf, so we could not think of a better way to pay tribute to him and raise money for Pancreatic Cancer research. This event was held on August 2nd at Lyon Oaks Gold Course (a golf course Ralph was instrumental in developing prior to retiring as the Executive Officer of Oakland County Parks and Recreation). The golf outing was a huge hit.  We had over 70 sponsors and 200 people in attendance (including Ralph’s UMCCC doctors) to golf, eat and share stories about Ralph! The proceeds from this event went to the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, specifically for pancreatic cancer research. Ralph would have been honored to see the showing of family and friends at this event.

The second fundraising event was a personal goal that I wanted to accomplish. I decided to sign-up for the Ironman Louisville.  For those that don’t know, an Ironman consists of a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike race and a 26.2 mile marathon all rolled into one.  In one day, no break!  140.6 miles total in less than 17 hours!

Ralph was an athlete most of his life. He loved sports. This was an area that bonded us.  I knew that I would have to use Ralph’s mental determination as an example to endure this type of event. Only 1/10th of 1% of the entire world’s population can say they have completed an IronMan.

Preparing for this event required long hours of training. By the time the race day came I swam over 100 miles, biked over 2700 miles and ran 730 miles. I trained for over 360 hours and over 3,500 miles. If I started from my house I would be in Anchorage, Alaska!  Not a training session went by that I did not think of Ralph and the toughness he showed in his battle with cancer.

I made a promise to my Wolverine friends that if $5,000 was raised for UMCCC in Ralph’s name that I (a true SPARTAN) would wear a University of Michigan jersey during my IronMan race. When I made that statement I wasn’t sure it would be possible to raise that much money, however by the day of the race we raised almost $15,000 for the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center! Without hesitation, I wore that UM jersey during the race. I have to admit, this Spartan wore it with pride knowing that I was able to help such a good cause and I will wear it again for $25,000, not a penny less!

Our entire family learned about fortitude and perseverance as we witnessed the positive attitude Ralph had after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He accepted it as one more challenge in his life, and was willing to take on whatever the doctors offered him by way of treatment or procedures.  He was an inspiration to us all. His oncologist at U of M told us that he will use Ralph as a model for others facing this diagnosis. He said Ralph’s belief in God, his mental determination, and his will to live was a true inspiration.

Learn more about pancreatic cancer and pancreatic cancer patients

Common Man to Ironman

Part 1


Robert Skorupski is a Spartan in Michigan territory and shares his story on how and why he decided to raise money for pancreatic cancer research at the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center. You can find out more about his and his families journey on his blog or his Facebook page.



My Father-in-Law, Ralph Richard was an incredible man and an integral part of my family.   Living only two miles from each other allowed us to spend a great deal of time with our family. Ralph was retired, loved golfing, traveling and cherished spending time with family and friends. Ralph was a pillar of strength in our family, so it was no surprise that from the moment he received the diagnosis, he was determined to fight. Ralph sought advice from multiple doctors and determined his best option was with the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center…a tough decision living with a family full of Spartans.

The doctors of the Cancer Center worked with Ralph to determine the most aggressive treatment plan possible. The plan involved chemotherapy aimed to stop the potential spread to nearby organs and reduction of the known tumor. Ralph started the chemotherapy treatment right away. After a year, we remained positive because we knew Ralph had already beaten the odds and Ralph was determined to continue do whatever was necessary to spend more time with his family. Ralph willingly participated in clinical trials and other treatments that would hopefully help future pancreatic cancer patients.  He not only wanted to get help for himself but he also wanted his experience to help others.

I recall being with Ralph on the chemotherapy floor in UofM hospital. As I sat with Ralph as he received his treatment, I could not help but look up and down the aisle of chemo chairs. There were kids and adults of all races and sizes and it was clear that cancer doesn’t discriminate. There was not an empty chair in the room. His wife Diane stepped away for a cup of coffee and Ralph and I talked about the sports, the grandkids and he reflected on his struggle comprehending his own diagnosis. He said that morning he was called by and old coworker with a family member recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. They asked him what to expect, what questions should they ask, what treatments are there to consider? He said it felt good being able to offer help and some type of hope to a terrible situation. After a short pause, he looked at me and said that he often wondered why God picked pancreatic cancer for him and maybe this was the reason… maybe he could help other people and make difference in people’s lives. I smiled and nodded, but deep down wondered if I was ever in that situation, could I be that selfless?

It was that evening sitting in Maize and Blue territory I decided I wanted to do something to help…to try and make a difference…but what? I made a commitment to myself to raise as much money for the Pancreatic Cancer Research Program at UMCCC as possible. This money could help find methods of early detection, prevention and ultimately a cure for this horrible disease.  Ok…that what was the easy part…the hard part was the how?

Come back tomorrow for Part 2 on what has been accomplished so far in honor of Ralph.