Rochester businessman raises money for pancreatic cancer research

Deanna Dewberry
Updated: November 20, 2020 03:04 PM
Created: November 19, 2020 04:52 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month, and Nov. 19 is World Pancreatic Awareness Day. This type of cancer is devastating and has taken the lives of many we admire.  

Alex Trebek, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, and John Lewis are just some of them. Despite the fact we’re hearing more about it, pancreatic cancer is rare. But it’s deadly. Only 10% of those diagnosed with the disease survive. But one Rochester businessman hopes to beat the odds.

Rick Schiffhaur is one proud dad. He has five children, all of whom share his love of sports. He’s also the owner of a sporting goods and apparel business called Smash It Sports.

"My boys play baseball. My girls play softball," Schiffhaur said. "I'm going to coach them, and I plan on coaching them for a long time to come."

But to do that, he must first face the toughest battle of his life. Schiffhauer has cancer. I chatted with him Thursday during his five-hour chemo treatment. The otherwise healthy 57-year-old had no symptoms until August.

“I came home real tired had some chills, and so I went to the hospital. They thought it was gallstones,” Schiffhaur said.

Doctors wouldn't learn until months later that it was something far worse.

"My doctor called me on a Friday around the first of October and told me it was cancer, and I dropped the phone,” Schiffhaur recalled.

He underwent a complicated surgery called the Whipple procedure to try to remove the tumor.

“I woke up in recovery, and I heard that they had aborted the Whipple. “And I knew that wasn't good. They had found it in my liver. Then it became stage four,” he said.

Schiffhaur is not alone. Pancreatic cancer usually presents no symptoms until it has spread to other organs.

"Pancreatic cancer does not present early, and there are no real screening tools to screen for pancreatic cancer,” said Dr. Purvi Parikh, an oncology surgeon at Rochester General Hospital.

And for stage four patients, the prognosis is grim.

"Anyone that has late-stage pancreatic cancer more than likely they will pass away in a year to two years,” Dr. Parikh said.

Doctors have given Schiffhaur a year, but he’s undaunted. He's a man who seeks solutions in business and in life.

"And part of that solution for me is awareness and raising money,” Schiffhaur said.

He’s raising money for research. So dads like him can be around to coach their little athletes for a very long time. Schiffhaur is holding a fundraiser for pancreatic cancer research. Click here to donate.

To donate to the Pancreatic Cancer Association of Western New York, click here.

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