Editor’s note -- 2/18/2018: We are sorry to share that Bob Klem passed away on 2/17/2018. We are forever grateful for all of his work to fight pancreatic cancer, and honor his passion, drive and determination to seek change, inspire and Wage Hope.
Editor’s note: In 1999, Bob Klem lost his wife, Becky, to pancreatic cancer. “Becky’s biggest fear wasn’t dying,” said Bob, “but that our daughters, Rachel and Sarah, would forget her.” In 2007, Rachel wanted to do something to honor her mom – and Bob, a lifelong hockey player, launched The Have a Skate with Bob Foundation, holding the first benefit game the following year. Since HASB’s inception, Bob continues to rally hundreds of players and fans in the hockey community to take action and host “all-star” ice hockey games across the country raising funds and awareness for pancreatic cancer research. In its 10-year partnership with PanCAN, The Have a Skate with Bob Foundation has raised more than $165,000, to fight pancreatic cancer in memory of Becky Klem and friend Tom Jacobson of Wauconda, Ill. Visit www.skatewithbob.com to learn more about the Foundation.
Bob, why do you Demand Better?
I learned about pancreatic cancer in 1999 when Becky was diagnosed. Her cancer grew for 5 to 10 years before being detected despite regular checkups. In the 18 years since, there still is not a reliable test, which I find unbelievable.
For whom do you Demand Better?
For those who have passed the torch to me to carry on their fight, for our warriors who are fighting now and especially those who have yet to be diagnosed.
What three words come to mind when you picture a world in which there is an early detection test for pancreatic cancer?
Relief. Accomplishment. Hope.
What are you personally doing currently to Demand Better in the fight against the world’s toughest cancer?
On the ice, our foundation holds benefit hockey games to raise awareness and funding for pancreatic cancer research through our beneficiary, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. This season, we are celebrating our tenth anniversary with PanCAN.
Off the ice, we sponsor PurpleStride events in Chicago, St. Louis and Kansas City and hold group outings raising awareness and funding.
What does Demand Better mean to you?
Demand Better to me is more than a rallying cry or a slogan. It is a guiding principle in my world and for Have a Skate with Bob. We have doubled the survival rate in the 18 years since I first learned about the disease, but it’s still a 9 percent five-year survival rate. Our children and their children deserve better than this. We have to find a test and a cure for pancreatic cancer, we have to educate medical professionals better and we must demand better than the status quo.
Why should people be aware of pancreatic cancer risk factors?
Until a reliable test is developed, people must do everything they can to minimize the risks for developing pancreatic cancer, and they must know the early symptoms. Medical professionals are learning more about the disease and recognizing potential symptoms, but patients must be their own advocate.