Joseph Jacobson McClenahan died on 5/5/2018 at the age of 31 after heroically enduring 14 months of treatment for esophageal cancer.
Like many who have lost someone they love to cancer, we are left wondering, "Why Joe?" Joe was too young and too healthy, and for us it is too easy to fall back on the usual explanation of "bad luck."
Over the last four decades, the incidence of esophageal adenocarcinoma--the type of cancer Joe had--has steadily increased. At the University of Washington, Dr. Thomas Vaughan has focused his research on the identification of environmental and host factors that underlie this dramatic increase so that effective prevention, early detection, and intervention strategies can be devised.
We all know that research requires significant funding, so you may wonder how our contributions could possibly be of use. These gifts are the seed money for Dr. Vaughan's early investigations, allowing him to collect data which will, in turn, help him to secure much larger NIH grants. In particular, the work that we hope to support focuses on identifying biological markers in blood tests that would allow for early detection of esophageal adenocarcinoma, as well as identify those at increased risk for the disease. The money that we raise will help fund feasibility and pilot testing of these blood tests.
By investing in Dr. Vaughan's work, we hope to ensure that we can begin to find an answer to "why?"--not just for our Joe, but for the many others like him who will be diagnosed with this terrible disease. Most importantly, helping to solve the mystery of "why Joe?" will advance our understanding of "why cancer?", an important step in finding a cure.
During his illness Joe wrote, "I hope that I've done enough in my short time on this earth to have made a little mark and that whenever the time comes I can say that I lived a good and full life and I didn't waste what a gift it was." Joe lived a magnificent life that has inspired all who knew him. Your gift will help us to establish a permanent Joseph Jacobson Memorial Fund at Fred Hutch--so that Joe can continue to make his mark long into the future.
On Joe's behalf, our family offers our profound gratitude.