Alex Trebek inspires Bay Area family on World Pancreatic Cancer Day

MARIN, Calif. (KGO) -- November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness month and on this World Pancreatic Cancer Day, a Bay Area woman and her mother are turning their love of Jeopardy into a campaign to find a cure.

To say Lauren Marra and her mother, Jane are fans of Jeopardy could be an understatement.

"I grew up watching Jeopardy as a kid and I still watch it every night with my mom," said Lauren.

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But their love for Alex has become more meaningful in the past few months since he revealed a stage 4 pancreatic cancer diagnosis.

"My dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer when I was 12. We were really inspired by Alex's honesty after his diagnosis."

Ed Marra's diagnosis happened in 2004 and for two years, Ed Marra fought with toughness and as he called it a "passion to win." The saying is emblazoned on red rubber bracelets, which Lauren and her boyfriend and family all wear.

"He was the type of person who would get up every day and be grateful for what he had. He had a passion for hard work and to fight the disease," said Lauren as she sifts through a photo album filled with photos from her father's happier days. There are images of her swimming with him, learning to ride a horse and out in the great outdoors.

Lauren's father passed away in July of 2006.

"We miss him terribly. I miss him every day."

Every year since her father's passing, Lauren and her mom fund raise for the cause, raising tens of thousands of dollars.

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This year, inspired by Trebek's openness to discuss his condition, Lauren and her mother made a video asking for "checks for Alex Trebek" to fund research for everyone touched by this disease.

"I hope that he would be proud of us. I think it gets harder every year to try and fund raise."

Pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest cancers with a 5-year survival rate of less than 10 percent, which is why fundraising to find a cure is so important.

According to Lauren, Dr. Margaret Tempero of UCSF treated her father.

"This is the most devastating of all solid tumors and we don't know enough about the biology of this disease in order to understand how to appropriately stop it in its tracks," says Dr. Tempero.

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"We need research money to carry out these experiments and to find new targets," she continued.

Lauren credits Dr. Tempero for helping her father through his final days.

"He was so strong during his fight. Because of UCSF, he was able to feel strong for the two years he fought."

Question is, what's next? Answer is, hopefully a successful fundraising campaign.

"Then nobody will have to go through what we went through," said Lauren.

Video of Lauren and her mom's fundraising video and directions on how to donate can be found here.
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