Vancouver, B.C. – BC Cancer Foundation Inspiration Gala guests came together in a momentous way to bring attention to one of the most underfunded cancers, raising an astounding $2.3 million for lung cancer research at the BC Cancer Agency.

Emotions ran high as many of the 400 guests who gathered at the Fairmont Pacific Rim ballroom have been personally affected by the much feared disease of lung cancer. Pearl Toh’s generous gift of $900,000 kicked off the evening with a philanthropic bang. Ms. Toh’s gift will be used towards recruiting Dr. Will Lockwood, an emerging leader in translational lung cancer research. Dr. Lockwood’s expertise will provide a greater depth of understanding of lung cancer and complement the BC Cancer Agency’s Lung Tumour Group research pursuits.

“As a long time supporter of the BC Cancer Foundation, I unexpectedly had to watch someone very dear to me, a non-smoker, given a one month prognosis for stage IV inoperable lung cancer.  Because of new targeted therapies available for certain patients, he is doing very well today, 21 months later. I am now a converted supporter of cancer research. We need our brilliant scientists and researchers to continue their efforts to make cancer a curable disease," says Pearl Toh.

Funds raised through the 2013 Inspiration Gala, presented by Encana, will launch the Lung Cancer Research Initiative, an exciting new project that will help scientists and clinicians better understand and treat lung cancer. The timing for the Gala couldn’t have been more fitting, as November is also Lung Cancer Awareness Month.

This year’s Gala co-chairs Jane Hungerford and Deborah Roitberg led a volunteer Gala committee over the past year and their efforts are commendable. “I feel incredibly fortunate to have worked with a dedicated Gala committee, all of whom gave their personal time towards a cause we are all passionate about. Tonight, we can see the fruits of our collective labour and are very pleased,” says Hungerford. 

“I have seen first-hand the incredible work being done at the BC Cancer Agency by an amazing group of researchers, clinicians and caregivers. I know that we can make a tangible difference by supporting cutting-edge research right here in B.C.,” adds Roitberg.

In 2013, over 3,000 British Columbians will be diagnosed with lung cancer, and more than 2,000 will die from the disease. The Lung Cancer Research Initiative will breathe new life into lung cancer research at the BC Cancer Agency by providing much-needed support to advance earlier detection, diagnosis and effective treatment options for lung cancer patients throughout the province.

 “With few survivors to advocate for the disease, Inspiration Gala guests have enabled my colleagues and I to change the face of lung cancer research and care in B.C, perhaps even to find a cure in the future,” says Dr. Barbara Melosky, Medical Oncologist, BC Cancer Agency.

One of the unmet needs is that people often get diagnosed with lung cancer in advanced stages of the disease, when there are far fewer treatment options. The Lung Cancer Research Initiative will improve patient outcomes through projects such as the Rapid Access Lung Cancer Clinic, by moving patients through a streamlined continuum of testing, evaluation, diagnosis and treatment.

Douglas Nelson, President and CEO of the BC Cancer Foundation thanked Inspiration Gala co-chairs Jane Hungerford and Deborah Roitberg and committee members for their relentless efforts along with the corporate partners and guests for their generous contributions, “I am simply overwhelmed by the philanthropic support shown here tonight, that has created whole new possibilities for lung cancer research. The $2.3 million offers a new hope to patients now, and will help find effective treatment solutions for patients tomorrow,” he said.

Over nine years, the BC Cancer Foundation’s Inspiration Gala has invested $15 million to accelerate research in lung, pancreatic, breast, ovarian, brain, colorectal, lymphoid cancers and personalized medicine at the BC Cancer Agency. The Gala has enabled groundbreaking discoveries in each of these projects, enriching our understanding of cancer, informing new treatment protocols, and helping to save lives. Gala funding has led directly to targeted therapies for ovarian and lymphoid cancers, a comprehensive BrainCare BC program and clinical trials, the development of advanced clinical tests for acute myeloid leukemia, and world-first discoveries of the genetic make-up and subtypes of breast cancer.

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The BC Cancer Foundation is the bridge that connects philanthropic support and research breakthroughs in cancer knowledge.  As the fundraising partner of the BC Cancer Agency and the largest charitable funder of cancer research in this province, we enable donors to make contributions to leading-edge research that has a direct impact on improvements to cancer care for patients in British Columbia. We fund with the goal of finding solutions. Visit www.bccancerfoundation.com to make a donation or to learn how you can make a difference in the lives of those affected by cancer.

The BC Cancer Agency, an agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority, is committed to reducing the incidence of cancer, reducing the mortality from cancer, and improving the quality of life of those living with cancer. It provides a comprehensive cancer control program for the people of British Columbia by working with community partners to deliver a range of oncology services, including prevention, early detection, diagnosis and treatment, research, education, supportive care, rehabilitation and palliative care. For more information, visit www.bccancer.ca.

Media enquiries please contact:
 
Monica Bisal, Communications Specialist
BC Cancer Foundation
t. 604-707-5934