Hispanic Heritage Month – The Story of Beatriz Illescas
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“I feel it is my responsibility to do what I can to support organizations that spread awareness, education, and advance research, so all impacted patients and families will have a better chance in the future. I am aware this cannot be done without the unconditional support and generosity of my husband Tom.” -Beatriz Illescas, Director of Foundation For a Better World
Beatriz Illescas and her family are all too familiar with the dire need for pancreatic cancer breakthroughs. Native to Guatemala, the Illescas are a close-knit family whose first experience with pancreatic cancer came in 1999 when Beatriz’s sister, Sylvia, was diagnosed. Beatriz, her sisters, and her nieces provided all the support and care her sister needed. She survived only three months.
In 2001, the Illescas faced another shock when Ana Maria, another one of Beatriz’s sisters, was diagnosed with an aggressive case of pancreatic cancer. Once again, Beatriz, along with her mother, provided care, love, and support to Ana Maria until she passed away later that year. After caring for her sister throughout treatment and end-of-life care, Beatriz came to the United States as a diplomat, representing her country as the Consul General of Guatemala in Atlanta.
Recognizing the fear and heartache that comes with a pancreatic cancer diagnosis, Beatriz has been a fearless advocate in the fight against cancer. Giving back to organizations like the Lustgarten Foundation is her way of helping someone survive beyond her family. This family experience inspired her and her husband to create Foundation for a Better World with a commitment to funding pancreatic cancer research and various other health & wellness and education-based causes.
“If we can help at least one person extend their time on Earth just a little longer, then it’s all worth it,” said Beatriz.
Transforming pancreatic cancer into a curable disease relies on the representation of all. The Lustgarten Foundation celebrates voices like Beatriz’ whose story reminds us just how important diversity in science, from patient trial participants to researchers, is to the overall integrity and applicability of the outcomes.
Juntos podemos transformar el cáncer de páncreas en una enfermedad curable. | Together we can transform pancreatic cancer into a curable disease.