First we were confronted with the math, a depressing catalog of death. This year, there will be an estimated 46,000 new cases of pancreatic cancer in the United States. More than 39,000 people will die from this lethal killer this year; 74% of those diagnosed with pancreatic cancer not survive the first year. Only 6% will survive more than five years.
And yet, as our special evening continued, we learned that there is hope that a breakthrough is on the horizon. It will take money, we were told, and it will take a lot of very hard work. Some brilliant scientists and doctors are completely committed to this crusade.
At the 12th Annual Seena Magowitz Golf Classic held in Orlando, Florida in May, 2014 immediately following the completion of Furniture/Today’s Bedding Conference, a powerful new voice joined the discussion.
“Together we will all ‘add our voices’ to the fight and together we will create the synergy to win the battle against pancreatic cancer,” said Gary Fazio, CEO of Serta Simmons Bedding, one of the most respected leaders in the mattress industry, who was the honorary chairman of the event.
In a deeply moving presentation, Fazio walked through the ballroom at the Omni Orlando Resort, talking about how his involvement with Seena Magowitz Foundation CEO Roger Magowitz and leading pancreatic cancer researcher Dr. Daniel Von Hoff had changed his life. He talked, too, about the toughness of the doctors and researchers who are working so hard to beat pancreatic cancer. Fazio called the mattress industry to action: We have a chance to make a difference in this battle, he said.
And then, to the strains of the John Lennon song “Imagine,” Fazio asked all of us to imagine a world without the fearful diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, a world where all people share all good things, and the world will live as one.
We also heard some familiar voices. Roger Magowitz, who launched this crusade 13 years ago after his mother, Seena, lost her battle with pancreatic cancer, talked about the way the mattress industry is working together to beat pancreatic cancer, and said his commitment to the cause has never been greater.
We also heard from Dr. Von Hoff, who said the millions of dollars raised by Seena Magowitz events over the years are making a difference. The support of the mattress industry could lead to “a real breakthrough” in finding a method of early detection for pancreatic cancer, Von Hoff said.
Later that evening, we listened to some fine music, and the next morning the golfers hit the links. As usual, there was an easy camaraderie among the group and a sense of optimism. During the two-day event, the industry raised over $600,000 for pancreatic cancer research through sponsorships, auctions, raffles, a helicopter golf ball drop and other gifts.
In Orlando, land of the Magic Kingdom, the mattress industry made magic happen, Magowitz said. But more work remains.