With a $1 million gift to the Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center, Stan and Melinda Epperson and their daughter Lisa have established the Jeffrey Thomas Epperson Memorial Fund to honor their son and brother and to support brain tumor research at Duke.
“My son touched a lot of people in a very positive way,” says his father, Stan. “This fund is a way of honoring him and his courageous fight. The best way to honor him is to find a cure for this disease.”
Jeff Epperson was diagnosed in 1998 at the age of 24 with meduloblastoma, a brain tumor more common in very young children. He began treatment in 1999 at Duke under the care of Henry Friedman, MD. The brain tumor eventually metastasized to the bone, and Jeff died in February 2001.
“Every person has a chance to make that conscious decision to allow a situation to destroy them or to do something so that no one else will have to go through what we’ve gone through,” explains Stan. “I believe we will have the greatest chance of curing this disease by supporting research at Duke,” he continues. “There is a great spirit of cooperation between Dr. Darell Bigner, Dr. Henry Friedman, and Dr. Allan Friedman. They make you feel like an invaluable part of what they are trying to accomplish.”
Bigner serves as director of The Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center at Duke, and Henry and Allan Friedman serve as deputy directors.
In addition to creating the fund, Stan currently serves as chair of the board for The Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center at Duke. Along with his wife and daughter, Stan also leads Team Epperson, which has been a top contributing team to the Angels Among Us 5K Race and Walk, a fundraising event for the brain tumor center.
Stan Epperson’s work and support of brain tumor research extends to the Southeastern Brain Tumor Foundation, of which he has served as president since 2003. The foundation supports brain tumor research at a number of institutions including Duke and has funded more than $350,000 in research in the last three years. Bigner serves on the foundation’s medical advisory board.
“I just want to get rid of brain tumors,” says Stan. “The best way I know how to do that is to support research.”