A request from his 20-year-old son, Ben, who was dying of stomach cancer, spurred San Mateo resident Wayne Feinstein to commit to whatever he could do to help find a cure for the disease. Last March, about three years after Ben’s tragic passing, Feinstein was elected chair of the board of the Gastric Cancer Foundation, a national nonprofit dedicated to curing stomach and esophageal cancer. Besides fulfilling his promise to Ben, Feinstein says, his dedication to the foundation is grounded in his Jewish responsibility of tikkun olam, or repairing the world, “the same kinds of things that propelled me into Jewish communal service right out of college,” he says. “It’s fundamental to who I am, and this one has a double edge.” Feinstein, 61, spent 18 years in leadership roles at Jewish federations in Detroit, Los Angeles and the Bay Area, where he served as CEO of the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund.
“Every day I think about how I can best honor Ben and everyone who has suffered from stomach cancer. The key to finding a cure is to gain visibility for the disease and invest in research,” Feinstein says. Stomach cancer is the fourth most common cancer worldwide and second leading cause of cancer deaths. Even so, it receives less than 1/2 of 1 percent (0.4 percent) of federal cancer research dollars, according to the foundation’s website. GCF’s annual fundraising gala is Saturday, Dec. 7 at the Peninsula Golf and Country Club in San Mateo. For information or to make a donation, visit http://www.gastriccancer.org.