Pancreatic cancer may have taken Jules Sandford, but the City of Hope patient will influence the lives of future patients with the disease.
Before his recent death, Sandford — and his wife, Betty — donated $150,000 to advance pancreatic research in the lab of City of Hope researcher Vincent Chung, M.D., who was his physician.
Chung’s innovative lab work and his compassionate care for Sandford spurred the generous gift.
Chung is studying combinations of investigative drugs to undermine cancer’s mechanisms. The researcher aims to better understand the molecular pathways that drive pancreatic cell growth so new medications can better kill cancer cells while leaving healthy cells alone. The Sandfords’ gift will support the much-needed research.
Malignancies such as lung and breast cancer tend to overshadow pancreatic cancer because they are more common, but pancreatic cancer is a difficult opponent to fight. The American Cancer Society estimates that nearly 37,700 Americans will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer this year, and nearly 34,300 will die of the disease.
“We are very excited by the science Dr. Chung is doing,” said Randy Sandford, the donors’ daughter. “We know cancer tends to run in families, so investing in research is a way to help protect our family and countless others who are affected by this disease.”
During Sandford’s care, the family grew close to Chung, not just as a physician, but also as a friend. “He was straightforward, honest, gentle and very caring,” Randy said. Both Jules and Betty Sandford were eager to support Chung not just in hopes they could find a cure for Jules, but for future patients with the disease. “Their gift allowed my father to impact the course of medicine,” said Leslie Sandford, the couple’s other daughter.
The bond between Sandford and Chung was mutual. “In the short time that I knew him, I felt like I was part of the family,” Chung remembered. “He was such a generous man, always thinking about the welfare of others. He expressed interest in my research early on.”
Before his pancreatic cancer diagnosis, Sandford already knew firsthand about City of Hope. City of Hope surgeon Timothy Wilson, M.D., Pauline and Martin Collins Family Chair in Urology, successfully treated him for prostate cancer more than a decade earlier.
Jules Sandford died at age 79 in Monrovia, Calif. He is survived by wife, Betty, children Randy, Leslie and Kevin, and grandchildren Sarah, Rebecca, Alicia and Mia.