How a Wisconsin family is using their grief to fight for better pancreatic cancer screenings

By Christina Lorey
November 14, 2023

Mike “Faj” Oglesby was just 52 when he died of Stage 4 pancreatic cancer. His battle only lasted 60 days.

He got the news in 2015–just two weeks after his daughter’s wedding. “As an engineer, Mike was always wanting to figure things out,” his sister Diane Oglesby-Rambousek explained. “And he wanted to understand why he’d developed terminal cancer.”

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Oglesby’s curiosity inspired his siblings to channel their mourning into something meaningful. Within weeks of his death, the Milwaukee family organized the Faj Squad 5K–named for the moniker Oglesby was given by his two daughters. The event, held in July just across the Mississippi in Oglesby’s hometown of Dubuque, has grown every year since and raises money for the Michael W. Oglesby Pancreas Cancer Research Fund

“We knew that the funds we raised could really help, and UW Health had the perfect pancreatic cancer research center,” said Oglesby-Rambousek, who serves as president and co-founder of the foundation.

The Michael W. Oglesby Foundation is working to bring more people hope by supporting screening studies to help with earlier detection; better treatments; and ultimately, a cure. There’s a critical need for that when it comes to pancreatic cancer, the third-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in America and the second-deadliest in Wisconsin. What’s even more gut-wrenching is that 70% of people die in the first year, and nearly 90% die within five. 

The good news? The Oglesby family’s generosity is already making a difference. Right now, their research fund is helping Sean Ronnekleiv-Kelly, an assistant professor in the surgical oncology division at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health, study mice to explore how circadian disruptions affect pancreatic cancer progression.

“It’s soul-crushing to tell someone who has gone through treatment that their prognosis isn’t good,” Ronnekleiv-Kelly said. “We have to do better for people like Mike.”


  • Christina Lorey

    Christina is an Edward R. Murrow-winning journalist and former producer, reporter, and anchor for TV stations in Madison and Moline. When she’s not writing or asking questions, you can find her volunteering with Girls on the Run, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, and various mental health organizations.

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