Celebrating world first cancer research breakthroughs at the BC Cancer Agency

Vancouver, June 21, 2011 – Seventy-six years ago, almost exactly to the day, Vancouver Board of Trade President T. S. Dixon chaired a lunch meeting to discuss a pressing healthcare issue – that B.C. had the highest rates of cancer incidence and death in Canada. By the end of the meeting, the Board members had made a plan of action, beginning with the creation of the BC Cancer Foundation. Today, the Vancouver Board of Trade and the BC Cancer Foundation celebrated their historic partnership at the inaugural Discovery Day luncheon, at the Vancouver Four Seasons Hotel.

“The Vancouver Board of Trade was our first Partner in Discovery. Thanks to their vision, over 76 years ago, the BC Cancer Foundation established what is now the BC Cancer Agency - a world leader in cancer research and care,” said Foundation President & CEO Douglas Nelson. “Today we are celebrating that vision and the philanthropy that has fueled the Agency’s many breakthrough discoveries that have saved and extended the lives of British Columbians.”

The Vancouver Board of Trade’s interim managing director Grayden Hayward said, “The Vancouver Board of Trade has a long history of getting things done to better our community, but we are especially proud of this historical link between The Board and an organization which plays such an important role in all of our lives, almost a century later, when everyone knows someone touched by cancer.

“We are especially honoured to bring history full circle and be partners in the launch of the BC Cancer Foundation’s inaugural Discovery Day, celebrating and sharing information on the BC Cancer Agency’s world-renowned breakthroughs that are dramatically impacting the lives of cancer patients today, thanks to the Foundation’s support.”

In 1935, B.C. had the worst cancer survival rates in Canada. Today our province has the lowest rates of both cancer incidence and mortality in the country, and some of the best cancer survival rates in the world. For example, the BC Cancer Agency was the first in the world to provide population-based screening for cervical cancer, with the Pap smear test. Since 1955 the program has reduced the incidence and mortality of cervical cancer by over 70 per cent and remains a model for cancer control around the world.

The Discovery Day celebration began with an emotional performance of cancer-themed works by slam poet Shane Koyczan. BC Cancer Agency scientist Dr. Marianne Sadar shared a personal “eureka” moment in her pioneering prostate cancer research and noted that “the world is taking notice of the innovative work that is being done in British Columbia.” Dr. Page 2 of 2 Sadar also thanked the Foundation donors who “have given us the tools to do our unique work.”

Dr. Hagen Kennecke, a medical oncologist at the BC Cancer Agency, said, “These discoveries change how we look at cancer and how we treat it, and they can dramatically improve our ability to help patients. Our aim is to continue with this research and try to catch cancer earlier, so that 10 years from now, when we are sitting here again, we no longer have to say that cancer is the number one cause of death.”

On behalf of the Mayor, Vancouver City Councilor Heather Deal officially proclaimed Discovery Day as the BC Cancer Foundation’s annual celebration of its vision of a world free.

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Media Contacts:

Patsy Worrall 
VP, Marketing + Communications
BC Cancer Foundation 
E: pworrall@bccancer.bc.ca

Terry Hadley 
Communications Director 
The Vancouver Board of Trade 
W: 604-640-5471 
C: 604-644-4793
E: thadley@boardoftrade.com