Vancouver, B.C. – BC Cancer Foundation Inspiration Gala guests took philanthropy to new heights at the sold-out affair, raising a momentous $3.5 million for pancreatic cancer research at the BC Cancer Agency. 

Emotions ran-high as many of the 500 guests who gathered at the Fairmont Pacific Rim ballroom have been personally affected by the loss of a loved-one to this deadly cancer. A jaw-dropping $1 million gift from the Milan and Maureen Ilich Foundation was announced, in support of nanomedicine technology, leading-off the cash and luxury live auction bidding—followed by a $1 million gift from the Ritchie family, bringing guests to their feet in elation.

“We are all affected by cancer,” said Dave Ritchie, “we are all lucky, we are survivors,” he said, referring to himself, his wife and daughter, all cancer survivors. 

The funds raised will catapult the new Pancreatic Cancer Research Initiative of the BC Cancer Agency, in collaboration with VGH, toward a synchronized approach of finding the driving causes of pancreatic cancer and testing new therapeutic combinations to prevent years of life from being lost to this disease. 

2012 Inspiration Gala Honorary Chair, Fei Wong lost her beloved husband Milton K. Wong to pancreatic cancer less than a year ago and has confidence in the research initiative: ”Milton didn’t lose his battle to cancer, because he knew that his efforts to extend his runway of life would be his contribution to finding a cure. He knew that the BC Cancer Agency would keep pushing to discover new treatments,” she said. 

Nearly 600 British Columbians will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer this year, and even with the most advanced and aggressive treatment, only 5 per cent of patients will survive five years. The Pancreatic Cancer Research Initiative will build on past BC Cancer Agency models of success in bridging multidisciplinary expertise in genome sequencing, nanomedicine, and clinical research to develop targeted and effective therapies.  

“The Inspiration Gala has cleared the path toward a centre of excellence in research and care for pancreatic cancer here in BC, which will have a long-lasting impact on patients in our province,” said Dr. Daniel Renouf, medical oncologist, BC Cancer Agency.

The pancreatic cancer research initiative will not only offer hope to those affected by pancreatic cancer, it has the power to shed light on the causes of and treatment strategies for more commonly diagnosed cancers.

Douglas Nelson, President and CEO of the BC Cancer Foundation thanked Inspiration Gala co-chairs Myriam Glotman and Jane Hungerford and committee members for their relentless efforts along with the corporate partners and guests for their generous contributions, “This incredible tidal wave of hope and $3.5million in philanthropic support has the power to change the course for thousands of Canadians’ who are on a cancer journey,” he said. 

Over eight years, the BC Cancer Foundation’s Inspiration Gala has raised over $12.6 million for game-changing cancer research at the BC Cancer Agency, leading 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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Media contact: 

Allison Colina
e. allison.colina@bccancer.bc.ca  
t. 604-707-5934