From PEOPLE Magazine Click to enlarge
Dana Delany was a struggling 24-year-old actress on the verge of her Broadway debut when her father, Jack, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer at 56-and given three months to live. "I'll quit the play; I want to be with you," she said, calling him from rehearsals in Canada. "'No, '"she recalls him saying. "'I want you to rehearse so I can see you on Broadway.'"

His struggle lasted nine months, during which time he went on a macrobiotic diet and returned to the Catholic Church. "He used the time to make amends with people, to end things well," says Delany, 56. "I was so proud." But today the star of ABC's Body of Proof is appalled at the lack of progress treating the disease that claimed her father, a frustration she'll share when she takes part in Stand Up to Cancer, a fund-raising telecast airing live on ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC and several cable channels on Sept. 7.

The tears flow easily when Delany, wearing a summer dress and sandals at a Santa Monica restaurant, recalls memories of her dad. The WWII vet went into the family flush-valve business but had "the soul of an artist" and shared his love of movies with his stage-struck middle child. Three months before he died, Jack saw Delany in the Irish play A Life at Broadway's Morosco Theatre. Afterward "we hugged, and he told me how proud he was," she says. "He saw my career was launched, that I'd be okay. I think it gave him a sense of peace. That meant so much."

FOR MORE INFORMATION, GO TO: STANDUP2CANCER.ORG