My wife, Beverly A. Gagliardi, lost her courageous battle against a horrible disease, Pancreatic Cancer, on January 4th, 2018. She was an amazing lady who always gave much more than she ever received. She was my companion in life, a loving mother to our daughter Nikki and son-in-law Tyler, and a larger-than-life grandmother to our grandson Cason and, spiritually, to our granddaughter Kinley, now one, who was born shortly after her passing. She fought this disease valiantly by enduring numerous surgeries and the horrible side-effects of chemotherapy. She never lost hope and brought smiles and optimism to all of her caregivers. Unfortunately, in the end, she was too weak and ill to survive.
Pancreatic Cancer is one of the most deadly cancers known. By the time you are diagnosed it is usually too late to help with today’s medical interventions. The chemotherapies are mostly ineffective, and it is the least well-funded cancer from a research perspective.
During one of Bev’s last nights in the ICU at St. Luke’s hospital she called me to her bedside. She knew she was gravely ill but asked me to do whatever I could to help other people suffering from this horrible disease. She was ALWAYS thinking of others. I promised her I would. Not being a doctor, the only way I could help was to support those whose life mission was to heal. In 2018 we hosted a golf tournament in Bev’s honor at our home course, Willow Creek Golf Club in Spring, Texas. We had only 7 weeks to plan and execute an event that take most organizations a year or longer to achieve. This tournament, and the associated fund-raise effort, collected over $109,000! Well above anyone’s expectations.
I am told it was the most well attended and highest grossing tournament ever held at our golf club. The efforts of the Steering Committee, the Volunteers, the Golf Club Staff, and the fun-loving Golfers pulled off the most amazing day! The collected funds (minus expenses) were donated to the Baylor College of Medicine, Elkins Pancreas Center in Bev’s memory. Our donations, which were stipulated to support non-chemotherapy based Cancer treatments, were used to support the two following areas of research:
The first was study of Circulating Tumor Cells (CTC) which are now known to be shed into the blood stream from active cancerous tumors. These cells travel throughout the body, tend to be resistant to most forms of chemotherapy and, once they find a suitable nesting location, support the growth of new cancers through metastases.
The second was the advancement of Genetically Engineered White Blood Cells (T-Cells). This study, in conjunction with the CTC study, is believed to be the path to potentially effective treatments against Pancreatic Cancer. The genetically engineered “T-Cells” become part of the body’s own immune system and attack the cancers in a non-toxic manner. They also appear to stay resident in the bone marrow and provide future protection against a reoccurrence of the same cancer.
There is hope.
We have joined forces again this year with an outstanding charitable organization, “The Arts of Healing Foundation” (https://www.theartsofhealing.org) which was founded by Lori and Dr. Isaac Raijman. The Arts of Healing Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, physician-based organization whose purpose is to raise money and awareness for various diseases that directly impact the patients in the community in which they practice medicine. We have a shared vision of annually raising funds for medical research so that others, stricken with disease, may benefit from improved patient care, and through medical breakthrough, have hope.
Unfortunately, a number of organizational and financial issues surfaced in the last few weeks that have compromised our hosting a repeat tournament this year. In lieu of a golf tournament, my family and I are hosting an online fundraiser to support Dr. Fisher’s team and their potentially life-saving research efforts. We plan to offer a family match and make a research contribution to the Elkins Pancreas Center in Beverly’s name in 2019. The effort will run until the date of the now cancelled tournament, April 29, 2019. If you were part of our event last year, or were considering joining us this year, we would be so very grateful if you would donate to our cause through this fundraising effort.
Please join our family in "Helping Others Fight."
James S. Gagliardi with Nikki and Tyler Caviness in association with The Arts of Healing Foundation
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