Fundraiser aids cancer research

Discovery Luncheon fundraiser last week raised $100,000 for trials research at the BC Cancer Agency in Kelowna.

Last week $100,000 was raised in Kelowna to support clinical trials research at the BC Cancer Agency Sindi Ahluwalia Hawkins Centre for the Southern Interior.

The fourth annual Discovery Luncheon fundraiaser held last week celebrated the importance of research happening each year in Kelowna.

The generosity of Tom Budd, with the Thomas Alan Budd Foundation, in donating $20,000 was matched by guests at the sold-out event ensuring local patients will benefit from advancements in cancer research and care from progress made through clinical trials taking place at the cancer centre.

“The support received from donors from across the Southern Interior ensures that clinical research will continue to improve the standard of care for patients here and across the province,” said Douglas Nelson, president and chief executive officer of the BC Cancer Foundation.

A strong clinical trials program is fundamental to progress in cancer research and care.

Clinical trials provide new hope for patients by translating results from the lab or clinic into more effective treatment options.

“Today’s established therapies are a result of successful clinical trials of the recent past,” said Dr. Juanita Crook, radiation oncologist at the BC Cancer Agency Sindi Ahluwalia Hawkins Centre for the Southern Interior.

“When multiple standard options of treatment are available and suitable for an individual, clinical trials research allows us to find out if one would offer an advantage in tolerance or efficacy.”

Dr. Randall Fairey, cancer survivor and retired B.C. Cancer Agency clinician, spoke at the event. He was diagnosed with aggressive prostate cancer in June 2013.

His diagnosis came at a time when a clinical trial for high dose rate brachytherapy, an alternate form of radiotherapy with potentially fewer side effects, was being offered at the B.C. Cancer Agency.

I have always believed that the BC Cancer Foundation’s support for the BC Cancer Agency Research Centre is unparalleled,” said Dr. Fairey.

”The reality is cancer can happen to anyone. A lifetime of oncology practice, teaching and research did not make me immune to cancer.”

Clinical trials are integral tools for improving our understanding of cancer and testing the effectiveness and safety of new drugs in order to raise the standard of cancer care.

Even for cancers with many available treatment options, researchers and clinicians continue to strive for improvement: for therapies that will be more effective, applicable to a larger number of patients, or have fewer  side effects.

Over the last three years, the Discovery Luncheon has raised more than $190,000 for rapid enhancements in cancer research and care, including the breast brachytherapy, HDR brachytherapy for prostate cancer and PREDICT research projects.

Funds raised this year ensure local patients benefit from continued treatment advancements.