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Alex Trebek’s death brings more awareness to pancreatic cancer

TAMPA, Fla. — You might know Neil Solondz as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays broadcast team, but he also uses his voice in the fight against pancreatic cancer.

“Every bit of awareness that we create is hopefully a step toward better detection and more importantly a cure,” he said.

The disease became personal for Solondz when his father-in-law, Alan Berger, died from it.

“We found out shortly after we got married about his diagnosis. And it was probably about a year that he was able to survive,” said Solondz.

Most of those who get pancreatic cancer, don’t live past five years.

Dr. Dae Won Kim from Tampa’s Moffitt Cancer Center says it’s difficult to diagnose.

“In contrast to the other cancers, we don’t actually see much of symptoms when they have pancreatic cancer. The most common symptom of pancreatic cancer is abdominal pain,” said Kim.

Kim says there are clinical trials going on at Moffitt and around the country.

“There’s a lot of ongoing clinical trials with the immunotherapy with some other combination to improve the clinical outcome,” said Kim.

Solondz who is a spokesperson for the Tampa Bay Pan Can chapter, says Alex Trebek’s death hit so many hard and will lead to more awareness about a disease that will kill more than 45,000 people this year.

“In a way, it will resonate with more people because he’s very much like a family member. The grace and courage which he carried himself means a lot to finding a cure for this disease.”

It happens to be pancreatic cancer awareness month, but Tampa Bay’s big fundraiser is in February.

The PurpleStride event will be done virtually because of COVID-19. For more information, go to https://secure.pancan.org/site/TR/PurpleStride/PurpleStride?fr_id=2185&pg=entry.

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