Jen Berman, who lost fiance to brain cancer, raises money for Denver Brain Tumor Walk

This week's feature, "In Sickness and In Health," tells the story of Jen Berman, who lost her fiance, Doug Furcht, to brain cancer last year. On Saturday, June 7, she and other supporters will participate in the annual Denver Brain Tumor Walk at Sloan's Lake Park, which raises money for brain tumor research and advocacy. Oodles of Noodles, the team Jen organized in honor of Doug, is currently one of the top three teams for fundraising.

This is the twelfth year that Denver has hosted a walk, which is sponsored by the National Brain Tumor Society. This year's course is a 5K and anyone can participate; there is no registration fee. Instead, the organizers ask that walkers solicit donations. The National Brain Tumor Society's goal this year is to raise $225,000 at the Denver walk.

That money is sorely needed, says Marla Payne, the organization's events director for the southwest region. There are more than 120 different types of brain tumors, she explains, but only four FDA-approved drugs to treat them. "There's not really a big enough voice for people advocating for new treatments," Payne adds.

Plus, because the disease progresses so quickly and the prognosis is often so grim, many drug companies don't direct their efforts toward finding new cures. "The FDA only approves drugs if they can extend or improve the quality of life," Payne says. "The drug companies don't want to put their money behind it because there's not a lot of hope."

The National Brain Tumor Society wants to change that. "Our primary mission is to fund research so we can find a cure," Payne says. And people like Jen are an integral part of fulfilling that mission. "She's done an awesome job of fundraising," Payne adds.

When Doug was fighting his cancer, he and Jen -- along with Doug's family -- participated in several Denver Brain Tumor Walks. But Jen says Doug preferred to keep a low profile; he never launched a big fundraising effort or put together a huge team of his friends. Now, after watching Doug lose his battle to brain cancer, Jen says she feels compelled to give back in a bigger way. "I want to be more vocal about it," she says.

For more information or to donate to Oodles of Noodles, visit the team's fundraising page.

More from our Follow That Story archive: "Masterpiece Cakeshop: Civil Rights Commission finds bakery discriminated against gay couple."

Follow me on Twitter @MelanieAsmar or e-mail me at melanie.asmar@westword.com

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