PHOENIX – Four doctors leading the fight against pancreatic cancer gave progress reports on their work during the Seena Magowitz Foundation’s Celebration of Hope 2020 event.

The virtual event was the last fund-raising event of the year for the Seena Magowitz Foundation, established by bedding veteran Roger Magowitz to honor the memory of his mother, Seena, who died of pancreatic cancer.

It featured comments by Magowitz, who continues to lead the crusade his foundation has mounted for early detection of and an eventual cure for pancreatic cancer, one of the deadliest cancers.

He said it was “incredible” that the Seena Magowitz Foundation could bring those four doctors together “to educate, enlighten and inspire us,” and he reminded his listeners of the foundation’s theme: “If not me, then who?” He added, “That ‘who’ is you.”

The fund-raising events this year included virtual bingo events hosted by bedding veteran Gary Fazio, and the Celebration of Hope event. The Seena Magowitz Foundation is still totaling up the funds it has raised and has not released a final total.

Dr. Daniel Von Hoff, one of the world’s leading pancreatic cancer researchers, was once again the featured speaker. The TGen executive and professor said researchers are now aiming to give pancreatic cancer a “nervous breakdown” with various strategies to attack and kill pancreatic cancer cells.

He said that researchers hope to develop a blood test and possibly a urine test for the early detection of pancreatic cancer, a key to defeating the slowly developing but often deadly cancer.

Von Hoff was joined by three other leading pancreatic cancer researchers on the Celebration of Hope broadcast. They were Dr. Erkut Borazanci, director of the early detection program at the HonorHealth Research Institute, Dr. Talia Golan of the SHEBA Tel HaShomer Medical Center in Israel, and Dr. Douglas Evans, chair of the Dept. of Surgery at the Medical College of Wisconsin.

They are conducting cutting-edge research on life-extending treatments, more effective screening and early detection techniques, and new surgical approaches to treating pancreatic cancer, officials said.

The evening included a performance by Alyssa Bonagura, who sang “Warrior,” a song she wrote to honor a pancreatic cancer fighter. “Nothing can stop you as long as you keep that smile on your face,” she said.

The evening began with a Zoom cocktail hour during which mixologist Michaela Hightower showed attendees how to create a “Magowitz Mule” using non-alcoholic ginger beer.

That event, attended by a number of bedding executives, also featured comments by Magowitz, who said his foundation has had “a much better year than anticipated,” finding new ways to support pancreatic cancer researchers. “We are making headway,” he noted. “The journey continued in 2020 and the journey will continue in 2021. We have all become one big family, one big circle, all fighting for the same reason.”

The cocktail hour also included a magic performance by Phil Sherman, president of Customatic Technologies, one of the signature sponsors for the Celebration of Hope event. He elevated a half dollar, signifying the Seena Magowitz Foundation’s fund-raising efforts. “Let’s get this cured once and for all,” Sherman said.

Other signature sponsors included Leggett & Platt and the Moran Family Foundation.

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