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Pancreatic-cancer research to be focus at hoops doubleheader

| Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, 8:55 p.m.
The Times Express
Gateway varsity girls basketball assistant coach Dana Stewart talks to students at Moss Side Middle School during an assembly on Jan. 3, 2013. Michael Love | The Times Express

Gateway varsity girls basketball assistant coach Dana Stewart knows how devastating pancreatic cancer can be.

She lost her mother, Diane, to the disease on Dec. 28, 2011, and both before and after her mother's death, she became an advocate for increased pancreatic cancer research and knowledge.

On Friday, the girls basketball team will host a Purple Game event to raise money for that continued research and to raise awareness of the disease.

“My mom was everything for me,” Stewart said.

“She taught me basketball, and we went to different tournaments. She was the ultimate basketball mom. For the girls to say that they wanted to do something like this means the world to me and my family.”

The Gateway girls will host Keystone Oaks in a nonsection game at 6 p.m., and the Gators boys will play Pittsburgh Central Catholic in a Section 2-AAAA contest at 7:30.

Purple T-shirts with a themed message will be sold Thursday at Moss Side Middle School and Friday at Gateway High School.

The shirts, which cost $10, also will be sold, if still available, at the game.

Those with the T-shirts at the game will receive free admission.

Information about pancreatic cancer will be available during the doubleheader, and there will be opportunities to donate money throughout the evening.

All proceeds will go to pancreatic cancer research through the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.

“Pancreatic cancer is the one that is killing everyone slowly because a lot of people don't know to get checked,” Stewart said.

“Some of the symptoms are a sore back and weight loss. Those things can happen in everyone's daily routine. They don't realize they are sick. By time you find out if you don't get it checked, it's too late.”

Famed movie star Patrick Swayze; Apple co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs; and Randy Pausch, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University who gained fame through his “Last Lecture” book, are well-known people who died because of pancreatic cancer.

President Barack Obama signed the Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act, formerly known as the Pancreatic Cancer Research and Education Act, into law on Jan. 3. The act passed the U.S. Congress on Dec. 21.

The landmark legislation requires the National Cancer Institute to examine its current research efforts on cancers with very low survival rates and work to develop early-detection methods and better treatment options to help improve outcomes for those diagnosed with the most deadly forms of cancer, including pancreatic and lung cancer.

This is the second year Stewart will give a $500 scholarship in honor of her mother to a Gateway senior girls basketball player.

Anna Coutsoumbis, a 2012 Gateway graduate, was the first to receive the scholarship, which is funded by Stewart through clinics and camps she conducts throughout the year.

Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825 or at

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