It’s all done by volunteers through walks, bake sales, luminarias, golf outings and other staples of grassroots fundraising. How a county with just over 5,000 people raises tens of thousands of dollars every year for people with cancer and to support cancer research can be summed up in one word – community.
Big Stone County in Minnesota is about a two-hour drive southeast of Fargo-Moorhead. Since 2005, the Big Stone County Cancer Support Group has been raising money for those in the county going through cancer treatment to help cover costs not paid for by insurance or helping to pay for transportation, lodging, wigs and other costs incurred through treatment.
The group raises between $50,000 and $70,000 every single year. While most of the money goes to support their neighbors who may be going through cancer treatment, the group also donates 25 percent each year to different types of cancer research in North Dakota, Minnesota or South Dakota.
For 2019, the Big Stone County group donated $14,365 to the research efforts at the NDSU Center for Diagnostic and Therapeutic Strategies for Pancreatic Cancer.
Members of the support group toured NDSU research labs to learn more about the Center on Friday, June 7. Those attending included Donna Layman, President of the Big Stone County Cancer Support Group; Elaine Martig, Secretary; Linda Krogsrud, Treasurer; and Pat Janke, group member.
“Everybody’s touched by cancer one way or another,” says Lori Larson, outreach coordinator for the Ortonville Area Health Service and member of the Big Stone County Cancer Support Group.
“They either have family, they have friends, they have people in the community that they know of that are touched by cancer,” says Larson, who is also a chemotherapy infusion nurse at the 28-bed critical access hospital.
While helping county residents going through cancer treatment, Larson says the commitment to research also is important. “If we’re not supporting research, we’re not being part of trying to stop this disease, trying to get better treatments that aren’t devastating to people financially and emotionally.”
At NDSU’s Center for Diagnostic and Therapeutic Strategies for Pancreatic Cancer, researchers focus on new developments to diagnose pancreatic cancer faster, as well as ways to target drug delivery directly to cancer cells.
Sanku Mallik, professor of pharmaceutical sciences, and D.K. Srivastava, a James A. Meier Professor of chemistry and biochemistry, lead the Center at NDSU.
“We greatly appreciate the donation from Big Stone County Cancer Support Group to support our research to advance diagnosis and treatment for pancreatic cancer,” says Dr. Sanku Mallik, co-leader of the the Center at NDSU.
“Meeting with those engaged in support of cancer patients or affected by the disease helps fuel our commitment to research that we hope will help patients in the future,” says Mallik.
The current five-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer is just over 9 percent, according to the National Cancer Institute.
The research Center at NDSU was established in 2016 with support from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, under the Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) program of the National Institutes of Health, grant 1P20GM109024.
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