UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center


The magazine of UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center

Edward Kim with Cindy and Ken Blumenthal
Edward Kim with Cindy and Ken Blumenthal

Bringing needed light
to pancreatic cancer’s dark horizon

Ken and Cindy Blumenthal understand how devastating pancreatic cancer can be. Cindy’s father died from pancreatic cancer, and she was diagnosed with the disease in July 2016.

“I had minor gastrointestinal symptoms, not something that I’d usually go to the doctor about,” Cindy says. “But my family doctor ordered a CT scan and ultrasound, and they detected a tumor.”

Cindy was referred to oncologist Edward Kim at the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center.

“Dr. Kim had great insight into treatments and explained that we could get excellent care here,” Cindy says. “He really focuses on helping his patients, and on doing pancreatic cancer research.”

It was this combination of personalized care and a commitment to the science to help find a cure that led the Blumenthals to give to the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center. The couple established the Ken and Cindy Blumenthal Fund for Pancreatic Cancer Research, which will provide $50,000 over five years.

“We’ve had a wonderful experience — all of the doctors and nurses have treated us with so much kindness and respect — like family, not just a number,” Ken says. “That’s the best medicine they can give us, and that’s why we decided to make these donations.”

The Blumenthals also have planned an estate gift of $2 million that will be used to create an endowed professorship for pancreatic cancer research. The Blumenthals’ gift will be invested in a permanent fund, and annual income from the fund will support the research, teaching and service activities of the holder of the professorship. The professorship will go to a UC Davis faculty member who is a leader in pancreatic cancer research.

“These gifts are especially meaningful since pancreatic cancer research is significantly under-funded, compared to other types of cancer,” Kim says. “The Blumenthals are deeply thoughtful, kind and devoted members of the community. I believe their generosity is based in part on their recognition of this need, and their goal to promote meaningful change and progress in pancreatic cancer research — starting right here at UC Davis.”

The Blumenthals, who are retired and live in Cameron Park, Calif., say that the cancer center faculty and staff have become their extended family.

“We don’t have many close friends or family, so for us it was more meaningful to give our money to research,” says Cindy, who previously worked as a microbiologist. “This might help our friends and relatives in the future, and that will make it worthwhile.”

Ken says that although the future is uncertain, he and Cindy take comfort in being together and knowing that they’re helping others.

“Cindy is still going through treatment,” he says. “She finished chemotherapy, and is getting ready to start radiation. The odds are against us, but we have other goals besides finding a cure right away. We’re not trying to do something wonderful or generous — we’re making this donation because it’s the right thing to do.”

Kim says he’s overwhelmed by the magnitude of the gifts, and knows they’ll make a difference to others with pancreatic cancer.

“Contrasted against the dark horizon in the current landscape of pancreatic cancer are the rays of hope that come with gifts like the ones from the Blumenthals,” he says. “Their proactive generosity in the face of personal challenges and struggles speaks to why their gifts will have a lasting legacy in advancing the fight against pancreatic cancer.”