Jack F. Whelan, a powerful advocate for cancer research and a winner of the AACR’s Distinguished Public Service Award, died November 16, 2017, at age 69.
Whelan was born June 15, 1948. He graduated from the University of Rhode Island and served as petty officer second class in the United States Navy before building a career as an information technology research analyst.
In 2007, Whelan was diagnosed with Waldenström macroglobulinemia, a rare and incurable type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. When his disease did not respond to traditional chemotherapy, Whelan, who lived in Andover, Massachusetts, enrolled in several clinical trials at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.
He began advocating for cancer research on behalf of patients, emphasizing the importance of participating in clinical trials, and he became deeply involved with the AACR. Whelan, an affiliate member since 2013, was featured on the cover of the Fall 2013 issue of Cancer Today, and in the AACR Cancer Progress Report 2014.
He participated in the AACR Scientist’survivor Program, served as an inspirational speaker on behalf of the AACR Foundation and other cancer organizations, and participated in the 2015 Rally for Medical Research. He served as a member of the judging panel for the 2017 AACR June L. Biedler Prize for Cancer Journalism, and as a panelist at Progress and Promise Against Cancer, a community event held in conjunction with the 2017 Annual Meeting. At that meeting, he received the AACR’s Distinguished Public Service Award.
Whelan was also involved with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, the International Waldenström’s Macroglobulinemia Foundation, and the American Society of Clinical Oncology.He was a fund-raiser and spokesperson for the Jimmy Fund and the Boston Red Sox on behalf of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.