Published Jul 21, 2021
Fans and loved ones of Lucasfilm writer Jonathan Rinzler, known for his work in the iconic Star Wars franchise, are rallying together in order to support the author during his stage 4 pancreatic cancer. When it comes to fighting this disease, support is a force all of its own.
News of Rinzler’s pancreatic cancer diagnosis came from his daughter Sarah, who has created a GoFundMe to raise money for her father’s cancer treatment. According to Sarah, her father visited his doctor last August when he started experiencing abdominal pain and diminished appetite. While going through tests, he was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. At the time of the diagnosis, his doctor told him he had three to four months to live, but Rinzler continued going through chemotherapy treatments to fight the disease. Rinzler is currently approaching the one-year mark since the news, but Sarah explains in the GoFundMe that her father is currently making “end of life plans,” and the family is asking for donations to help fund medical bills.
Since Sarah shared the GoFundMe, the Star Wars community has come together to support Rinzler during his brave fight. As of today, the campaign has surpassed its goal of $50,000.
Pancreatic cancer is known as one of the most difficult types of cancers to treat, and is often caught in later stages. Some of the main symptoms associated with pancreatic cancer may include jaundice, weight gain, back pain or diabetes. However, by the time these signs start popping up, it usually means the disease has progressed to later stages. According to Dr. Anirban Maitra, 80% of diagnoses are caught in later stages since symptoms don’t present themselves until the disease has already spread. Currently, the five-year survival rate of pancreatic cancer patients is just 9%.
Cancers caught in late stages typically have fewer treatment outcomes, but pancreatic cancer is especially difficult. The reason is because of the stroma — a barrier around cancer cells which prevents medications, such as chemotherapy and radiation, from targeting and killing these cells. If these cells continue to grow, then the disease will continue to progress.
“Think of pancreatic cancer as an oatmeal raisin cookie and the raisins are actually the cancer cells, and the cookie part is actually all the stroma around it,” Dr. Allyson Ocean, a medical oncologist at Weill Cornell Medical Center, previously told SurvivorNet. “And imagine having to navigate through all that stroma for a treatment to be able to get into a cell to kill it. So that’s why the treatments just really aren’t good enough to penetrate the cancer. But we’re improving, we’re getting better treatments.”