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Wilmot Stories

Walt Standhart

Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer survivor Walt Standhart, 71, has another reason to celebrate: He’s part of a running team called the “Seven Seventies for the Seneca 7” that completed a 77.7-mile race around Seneca Lake this spring. Standhart’s team was No. 70, owing to the fact that all members are at least 70 years old, and they finished at a pace of 10 minutes per mile.

Standhart was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in December of 2012. After successful surgery, he enrolled in a clinical study through Wilmot’s Department of Radiation Oncology, evaluating the effect of chemotherapy in combination with a drug called Tarceva (which was originally developed to treat advanced lung cancer) but has been used to treat other types of cancer.

“Given the opportunity to get an additional therapy — even with uncertain benefits — I figured that I’m already into this and why not? And if it’s helpful to advance science, I was happy to do it,” Standhart says.

A marathon runner before the diagnosis, he was able to ease back onto the trails, first by walking his dog, then jogging and finally running again.

Standhart says that exercise and excellent care at Wilmot have kept him going. On April 24, 2016, the “Seven Seventies for the Seneca 7” shared a long day together, starting the race at 6:30 a.m. and finishing at 7:39 p.m.—and earned special recognition for their strength and stamina despite older age.   

“Running after cancer is my claim to fame,” Standhart says, “which is fine with me.”

“Running after cancer is my claim to fame, which is fine with me.”