In 1998, 51-year-old Marc Lustgarten, Cablevision Vice Chairman, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Colleagues say his larger-than-life presence in a variety of key leadership positions brought out the best in those around him, and he elevated others in all areas of his life. He welcomed even the most daunting challenges as an executive, a husband and as a father; and he faced them in good spirits with his quintessential-New-Yorker sense of humor.
When he began feeling unwell, it took six months for Marc to receive his stage four pancreatic cancer diagnosis, and there were almost no treatment options available. An “orphan disease,” pancreatic cancer was allocated less than half of one percent of the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) research budget. With no additional funding, few young investigators opted to dedicate their careers to the study of the disease and there was little hope for breakthroughs.
The Lustgarten Foundation was created to advance the research related to the diagnosis, treatment, cure and prevention of pancreatic cancer while raising public awareness and providing support for patients and their families.
In its first year, the Foundation awarded ten $100,000 grants (totaling $1 million) to stimulate pancreatic cancer research. Over time, Lustgarten’s support of pancreatic cancer research has helped stimulate the NCI to increase its pancreatic cancer research funding to more than $182.1 million in 2018 and inspired the creation of other pancreatic cancer organizations. Today, there are thousands of researchers from all disciplines working on scientific breakthroughs that will provide better outcomes for those diagnosed with this challenging disease, many of whom are leaders in their fields.
Together with Cablevision Chairman Charles F. Dolan and Chief Executive James L. Dolan, Marc had a vision for supporting pancreatic cancer research, leading to better outcomes for patients. Before he died in 1999, his vision for the Lustgarten Foundation was well underway. For future generations impacted by pancreatic cancer, Marc left behind a legacy of hope. And his memory lives on in countless friends, colleagues and most importantly, his wife Marcia and two children. His son Andrew serves as Chairman of the Foundation’s Board of Directors, and his daughter Jessica serves on our board of directors.
Learn more about our history in our 20th anniversary report.