‘Light up the night’ for cancer research


“Fast Eddie” Berg, threw out the ceremonial first pitch on Thursday, Aug. 23 at the Cardinal/Marlins baseball game at Busch Stadium.

“Fast Eddie”, otherwise known as Edward F. Berg, M.D., is a slightly baseball crazy ophthalmologist who claims to have been “scouted” by the Cards in 1951 at a Khoury League game. Not even Albert Pujols received such a wildly enthusiastic ovation as did Ed when he delivered the ball to the plate.


Literally hundreds of his supporters, many wearing caps that said, not Cardinals, but PanCAN, whooped and cheered, for this was a fundraiser for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN).

In August of 2005 Dr. Berg was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer which was in its early stages.

He had surgery followed by chemotherapy and radiation, and for 18 months he was in remission.

At the time of his diagnosis, his wife Maris, who knew absolutely nothing about the disease, went online and found PanCAN which became an invaluable reference resource. She even traveled to a PanCAN meeting in Chicago to learn as much as possible to help her husband.

Ed told me, “We received helpful information concerning diet, pancreatic enzyme pills and a variety of gastrointestinal complications which follow the surgical treatment of the disease. It was the only source of information we found concerning all the ongoing clinical trials in the U.S. with new agents and methods of treatment and how to contact the physicians involved. PanCAN increased our awareness of the prevalence of this disease and the lack of means of early detection as well as the relative ineffectiveness of current treatment modalities.”

Maris and Ed are members of a committee planning “Light up the Night with Hope: an Evening under the Stars with the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.” It is to be held on Thursday, Oct. 25 at the James S. McDonnell Planetarium, St. Louis Science Center in Forest Park and will be PanCAN’s first annual fundraiser. Beginning at 6 p.m., the evening will feature an array of hot and cold hors d’oeuvres, drinks and a chocolate extravaganza dessert bar.

“We hope people will join us for a casual evening under the stars and enjoy jazz music by Dave Venn, who is considered one of the best jazz pianists in St. Louis, stroll around the Planetarium and support pancreatic cancer research by bidding on the wide variety of items at our silent and live auctions. The auction items include fine hotels, restaurants and vacations as well as the release of a bird of prey from the World Bird Sanctuary, a cupcake party, fine gold and pearls, management seminars plus much, much more. All proceeds go to fund research for pancreatic cancer,” said Susan Dertke Hendin, St. Louis PanCAN Affiliate Director. Reservations at $75 per person are available online at www.pancam.org/lightstlouis or call 877-272-6226.

The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, Inc. (PanCAN) was founded in 1999 as a grassroots organization to focus national attention on the most lethal, least funded and least understood of all cancer diseases.

This is a nationwide network of people dedicated to working together to advance research, support patients and create hope for those affected by pancreatic cancer. In St. Louis the all-volunteer team focuses on outreach by attending health fairs and distributing information on pancreatic cancer to doctors and hospitals.

“By making our presence known, we are able to reach out to recently diagnosed patients and their families and direct them to the many free services provided by PanCAN. Lois, this is important because people feel so alone and don’t know what to do when they get this diagnosis,” Susan Hendin told me.

In addition PanCAN raises funds for research and advocates for increased funding for pancreatic cancer research with federal government officials as well.

Last week the great Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti lost his year long battle with pancreatic cancer which is the fourth leading cause of cancer in the United States.

Pancreatic cancer appears to be more common among Jews and is more prevalent in Ashkenazi Jews than it is in Sephardic Jews. Researchers at Johns Hopkins Cancer Research Center have found that “A growing body of evidence suggests that a significant portion of the increased risks of pancreatic cancer in individuals of Ashkenazi descent has a genetic basis.”

So why do I tell you this? Because I feel that we Jews have a vested interest in supporting research, and to find a cure would be to our advantage.

See you under the stars when we Light Up the Night with Hope at the Planetarium.