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$1.5 M donation to help with demand for treatment at BC Cancer-Kelowna

Bannister’s donation will go towards creating a new, state-of-the-art systemic therapy suite

Allan Wolfram never would have met his grandson if it weren’t for the treatment he received through clinical trials at BC Cancer-Kelowna.

It was one of several stories the audience heard at an event that saw the Bannister family of Kelowna donate $1.5 million to the BC Cancer Foundation.

“I’m certainly grateful to the staff here, they basically saved my life,” Wolfram added.

Wolfram had esophageal cancer which had spread and caused a tumour in his brain.

Weeks after treatment the tumour shrunk and the cancer in his esophagus was gone.

“So yeah, clinical trials are important,” he said.

Wolfram’s story resonated with the Bannister family.

“Our family has been touched by cancer,” said Chad Bannister, Bannister Automotive Group. “My grandpa passed away from prostrate cancer, my mom’s dad had colon cancer and survived, my wife had thyroid cancer, I’ve had skin cancer.”

Bannister said some of his employees and their families are also dealing with cancer.

“If we’re in a position to help make that treatment better and let our staff and let the community focus more on health, then that’s what we’re doing.”

Bannister’s father, Lyn, added that stories such as Wolfram’s need to be heard.

“All this money is being spent on cancer research and people think nothing is happening and you come to an event like this and you realize there are things happening. You listen to Allan, I mean that’s a helluva story. People don’t hear them enough I don’t think.”

The Bannister’s donation will go towards creating a new, state-of-the-art systemic therapy suite at BC Cancer-Kelowna.

It will help meet the growing demand for cancer treatments in the Interior, and provide the infrastructure to bring early phase clinical trials to Kelowna for the first time.

While BC Cancer-Kelowna does conduct some clinical trials, once the therapy suite is operating, it opens to door to more and varied trials.

“The earlier clinical trials, we have to be really careful about what impacts they might have on the patients who are participating, so you need better monitoring capability,” said Dr. Ross Halperin, executive medical director.

The new therapy suite will have that capability, he explained.

“The data from patients like Allan will inform us and make a therapy that wasn’t available as standard therapy before, and a clinical trial proves that it ought to be standard therapy.”

Dr. Halperin added that the Bannister family’s gift will have an incredible impact on how patients will be treated in Kelowna.

Once completed, the therapy suite will serve cancer patients in the Interior.

“If there are trials that are only available in Kelowna, people from all across the province will then be travelling to access those treatments,” said Pardeep Khrod, associate vice-president, of BC Cancer Foundation.

The donation is the largest gift to date for the $6.1 million project.

Construction is expected to start in spring 2024 and take approximately 18 months.

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Gary Barnes

About the Author: Gary Barnes

Journalist and broadcaster for three decades.
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