BC Cancer Foundation

Impact Report 2019

Opening Thoughts

"Reflecting on an outstanding year, I wish to thank you for helping us achieve record-setting results for BC Cancer with 
$63.7 million raised! 
Changing the outcome takes passion. This is exemplified by long-time donor Gia Tran, who has collected bottles and cans every day for 22 years, donating the money she receives from the bottle depot. Her commitment is inspiring and we are honoured and humbled by Gia every day when she comes to our office. 

In October, we marked an important moment in cancer research and care as we received one of the largest donations to cancer in Canadian history. The $18.346 million anonymous gift aims to transform treatment for people facing metastatic cancer. This gift is grounded in hope and science with an immediate opportunity to save lives in B.C. and beyond.   

A point of pride, the Ride to Conquer Cancer was brought to Canada for its 10-year anniversary in August, with a first ever all-B.C. route from Cloverdale to Hope. Our Ride community came together once again to raise an exceptional $10.6 million. 

Each day at the Foundation I am moved by people like you and your generosity and motivated that BC CAN change the outcome and continue to bring world-class care closer to home.  

Thank you for being a part of the BC Cancer family."

Sarah Roth, president and CEO, BC Cancer Foundation

"Looking back on the year, I’m filled with immense pride and gratitude for the work being done at BC Cancer because of our passionate donors. Together, we celebrate a historic year for the Foundation with an exceptional record-breaking fundraising total. 

This is the time of year I love the most because its training time. As I put in those quiet early morning hours out on the road preparing for our Ride to Conquer Cancer, I always find myself being inspired on the ‘why’ we do it, and for whom. This year it’s for a friend and mother of one of my young son’s classmates who recently lost her battle with colon cancer. I’m motivated to support the life-changing advances in research and care that will mean the end of stories like this.  

I’m honoured to lead a tremendous Board who is motivated by our community of 100,000+ donors and by courageous British Columbians currently facing cancer. You, our donor community, continually inspire us and enable BC Cancer scientists and clinicians to break down cancer, improve outcomes and save lives—thank you."

Kirsten Tisdale, board chair, BC Cancer Foundation

APRIL 1, 2018 TO MARCH 31, 2019

Fundraising totaling $43.4 million represents all donations received as a result of annual fundraising programs, major gifts and bequests. Investments and other income of $7.6 million includes interest, dividends and realized gains on investments. Charitable events, totalling $12.7 million represents revenues generated primarily from mass participation events, including the Ride to Conquer Cancer. 


Kristin Armstrong


Donors helped BC Cancer researchers secure prestigious research grants that will change the outcome for people with lymphoma and other forms of blood cancers in British Columbia.  

People like Kristin Armstrong, who has been living with chronic myeloid leukemia for four years. 

“If I was going through this 20 years ago, there’s a good chance I wouldn’t be here,” she says. “Now, with a lot of research, we’ve more than doubled the five-year survival rate. I would not be here today without donors.” 

In November, $4.3 million was raised at the annual Inspiration Gala to fuel blood cancer research teams at BC Cancer as they seek to understand the genetic differences among blood cancer sub-types and develop tailored treatments that will be delivered to patients in the clinic.

“The time is right, and we have the data and technology to translate our knowledge about genomes into tangible, routinely applicable tests that can change the lives of many patients,” says Dr. Christian Steidl, research director, Centre for Lymphoid Cancer and senior scientist, BC Cancer. 

Tests in development will help prevent nearly half of all lymphoma patients from facing a relapse. 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau


In October, the Foundation announced a historic $18.346 million philanthropic grant from the Aqueduct Foundation on behalf of an anonymous donor that aims to transform treatment for people facing metastatic cancer. This is one of the largest gifts made to cancer in Canadian history.

“A gift of this magnitude will see that other families don’t lose loved ones to cancer in the prime of their life the way we have,” says Joanna Clark, wife of Daryl Clark, a North Shore father of three who endured three-and-a-half years of treatment for advanced prostate cancer before it took his life last June at 59 years old.  

Funds will fuel a world-leading Molecular Imaging and Therapeutics program at BC Cancer spanning research and development of cutting-edge radiopharmaceuticals through to clinical trials.

The first trial will focus on radioligand therapy (RLT) for men with incurable, metastatic prostate cancer. Radiopharmaceuticals holds tremendous promise for the treatment of other common cancers, including melanoma, breast, ovarian, pancreatic and blood cancers.  

In November, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced $10.23 million in federal funding to build a nuclear medicine hub—the first-of-its-kind in Canada—at TRIUMF, named The Institute for Advance Medical Isotopes (IAMI). Here, BC Cancer researchers will develop highly targeted therapeutic isotopes to treat metastatic cancers.

Over the next five years, BC Cancer will scale-up development of radiopharmaceuticals and launch a series of game-changing clinical trials.

Carol and Leigh Pan


PET/CT is proven as the most effective tool for obtaining a complete picture of a patient’s cancer. Swift access to the best diagnostic technology is potentially life-saving. 

In September, the fifth annual Hope Couture presented by Legacy Senior Living – The Leo Wertman Residence raised more than $600,000 to support the purchase of a new PET/CT scanner at BC Cancer – Vancouver. 

Carol and Leigh Pan were inspired to donate an incredible $1 million to replace an aging PET/CT scanner with a new, state-of-the-art machine at BC Cancer – Vancouver. Carol has faced stage IV melanoma for more than a decade and knows first-hand what it is like to wait for critical tests. 

“A PET/CT scan was critical for my oncologist to create a treatment plan for me, but I wasn’t able to get in right away,” says Carol. “When it’s so serious, time is everything and you cannot afford to wait.” 

“It is our pleasure to give toward this cause—it feels so good to know patients will soon have new technology and quicker access, here in Vancouver,” she says.

In September, the Foundation also completed a $10 million campaign to bring PET/CT scanners to Victoria and Kelowna, thanks to more than 5,600 donors. These scanners will reduce hardship and burden for patients who currently have to travel to Vancouver for scans. 

Sanja Simic


Thanks to a $1.2 million donation from the Conconi Family Foundation, a simple blood test now has the potential to transform personalized cancer care for British Columbians. 

Blood can contain tiny fragments of DNA from an individual’s cancer (called circulating tumour DNA or ctDNA for short) which provide incredible insight into their disease. 

The Conconi Family Foundation’s generous donation allows BC Cancer’s world-leading breast cancer research team to embark on a two-year study looking at the benefits of introducing blood-based ctDNA testing in the clinic, which may also have critical implications for other cancers. 

When Sanja Simic, executive director of the Conconi Family Foundation, was diagnosed with breast cancer, her journey was a catalyst for the Foundation to help advance care for other people facing the disease.

“It is true that cancer is personal to us at the Conconi Family Foundation but it is not the key reason for this gift,” says Sanja. “We saw an opportunity to invest in the world-class talent here at BC Cancer in hopes of staying ahead of cancer.”


The Ride to Conquer Cancer presented by Wheaton Precious Metals celebrated its 10th year with 2,500 riders raising $10.6 million for the BC Cancer Foundation. The annual event sees thousands of cancer survivors, cyclists and supporters coming together to participate in a two-day, 200-kilometre journey.

In 10 years, the Ride has raised $96 million to support more than 47 world-leading research projects at BC Cancer, investigating more than 50 different cancers. Funds have enhanced care for more than 275,000 patients over the past decade.

“Cancer takes too many people from us, so this is our little way of fighting back,” says rider Joel Fransen. “Nobody should face cancer alone.”

For the first-time in its 10-year history, the 2018 Ride was an all-B.C. route which offered participants a cycling experience through the scenic Fraser Valley, resulting in new local participants and partners.

“We ride and raise funds honouring the loved ones we’ve lost and with confidence that we’re giving the incredible scientists and clinicians at BC Cancer the power to save lives,” says Sarah Roth, President and CEO, BC Cancer Foundation. 

Julia and Donald Leung


Lung cancer research received a major boost with a $1.5 million donation from Donald and Julia Leung, who set their sights on improving cancer outcomes through philanthropy.

Like many families in B.C., the Leungs are no strangers to the disease and know first-hand how important research is in advancing treatment and care, and the positive impact it has on families.

“I always said to my family, we should try to help others and give back to our community,” says Donald. 
The Leungs’ gift will propel lung cancer research with new equipment, as well as a chemo prevention program under Dr. Stephen Lam, Leon Judah Blackmore Chair in Lung Cancer Research and Chair of the Provincial Lung Tumour Group, and director of the MDS-Rix Early Lung Cancer Detection and Translational Research Program at BC Cancer.

“We hope this gift will inspire others in the community to do their part to give back no matter how large or small the gift is. It all makes a difference,” says Donald.

Patty Pitts


A close-knit friendship spurred a $250,000 gift to the BC Cancer Foundation that will help accelerate ovarian cancer research.

Victoria resident Patty Pitts’ gift honoured two close friends—Carol Lalonde and Marlene Palmer—who both passed away from the disease.

Generously donating money from a recent family inheritance, Patty established The Carol Lalonde/Marlene Palmer Ovarian Cancer Research Fund to bring new hope to British Columbians facing an ovarian cancer diagnosis.     

“I wanted to use this money to make a real difference,” says Patty. “I know it’s too late for Carol and Marlene, but it can impact someone else in the future.”

Her gift will support immunotherapy research at BC Cancer’s Deeley Research Centre in Victoria.

“I was so moved by how hard these two women fought,” says Patty of her friends. “I know my gift will enable clinicians and scientists to make further strides in understanding ovarian cancer, saving more lives.”  

William and John McCarthy


This past fall, William McCarthy and his son John generously matched donations from over 7,000 BC Cancer Foundation donors for a grand total of $2.89 million.

William knows the power of early detection—his grandfather’s cancer was spotted early, giving him another precious decade to be with his family. Inspired by prevention research happening at BC Cancer, William and John decided to offer their support by matching gifts from British Columbians.   

The generosity of the McCarthy family inspired thousands of people across B.C. to give. Their efforts will see effective early detection methods have a direct impact on patient outcomes, by stopping cancer before it starts. 

With donor support, BC Cancer experts are now aiming to better understand the causes of cancer, from lifestyle choices like diet and exercise to environmental and hereditary factors. They are studying how to detect cancers including ovarian, pancreatic and lung earlier, giving more people a better chance at survival. Their ultimate goal is to reduce cancer incidence, and keep people healthier, longer.  

Melanie McDonald


“Accessing Patient and Family Counselling Services was probably one of the most important things I did when I was diagnosed—I was able to face my fears, my anger and challenges in my relationships resulting from my cancer diagnosis,” says Karen, who was diagnosed with bladder cancer. 

Thanks to the generosity of BC Cancer Foundation donors, the fifth floor of BC Cancer – Vancouver received a significant expansion and renovation this year to better meet the psychosocial needs of patients and families.

“We see patients and family members face to face to help navigate the complex impacts of cancer,” says Melanie McDonald, BC Cancer’s professional practice leader for patient and family counselling. “Our offices are now more modern, well-lit and provide a comfortable space for patients to receive much needed support.”

In addition to the team of four psychiatrists and eight counsellors, the renovation has created workable space for counselling students and has allowed the team to recruit a full-time psychiatry fellow and hire a spiritual health practitioner. 

“The entire psychosocial oncology program would like to say a heartfelt thank you to all of the generous donors for helping us meet the growing needs of cancer patients,” says Melanie. “These offices are a direct contribution to providing care in cancer treatment.”

Dr. Dan Renouf


Since launching the innovative EPPIC (Enhanced Pancreatic Cancer for Individualized Care) program last year, BC Cancer’s pancreatic team has leveraged funding from BC Cancer Foundation donors to expand the molecular subtyping of tumours from up to 400 patients across Canada. This year, the PanGen clinical trial, which is an integral part of EPPIC, expanded to Calgary, Edmonton and Ottawa. “Sites are now open and starting to send their samples here and it is going extremely well,” says Medical Oncologist Dr. Dan Renouf.  

A program studying the familial factors in pancreatic cancer is also progressing well and providing rapid hereditary assessments to families. Through germline testing and analysis, experts are finding a significant number of factors that could impact patient care and cancer prevention for future generations. 

770 cyclists trekked up Cypress Mountain for the 11th Annual Glotman·Simpson Cypress Challenge and raised over $440,000 to help change the outcome for pancreatic cancer patients.


BC Cancer is making a difference in the lives of British Columbians. This couldn’t happen without you. You are the most important piece of the puzzle, and we are inspired by your optimism and passion to find solutions that will benefit families now and for generations to come. 

Every day, we see the impact of your generosity, in BC Cancer labs and clinics, where experts are igniting progress to break down cancer, piece by piece. 

Thank you for inspiring us with your vision of:  

. . . better treatments with fewer side effects, 

. . . prevention strategies for high-risk families, 

. . . improved health and longevity for all British Columbians. 

The progress is real and it starts with you. 

Thank you.