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Karen Frankenfeld is a professional violinist, a National Park Service ranger, and a proud survivor of severe idiopathic chronic pancreatitis. Raised in the Pacific Northwest, Karen displayed symptoms of pancreatic dysfunction since she was a small child. Upon receiving a diagnosis of chronic pancreatitis and critical organ atrophy at age 24, Karen battled intractable pain and complete exocrine and endocrine pancreatic failure that crippled all aspects of her physical, emotional, and social livelihood.

Karen considers herself massively fortunate to have pursued a Total Pancreatectomy and Islet Auto Transplant (TPIAT) at the University of Minnesota at age 29. With a new “lease on life”, she is hoping to apply her abilities in community engagement to establish a NPF Chapter in the Black Hills of South Dakota and the Northern Great Plains. By educating the public and engaging victims, caretakers, and medical specialists at the heart of the American West, a coordinated attempt may bring answers and solidarity to victims of pancreatic diseases in her local community that she holds dear.