President & CEO, BC Cancer Foundation

This is a great opportunity for me to start the New Year with my first blog posting. 

Having been with the BC Cancer Foundation for a little over six months now, I can say with all honesty how impressed I am every day by the talent, skill and dedication of the scientists and researchers, and the high standard of care that is given to cancer patients in our province. 

I’m also amazed by the generosity of our donors who help fund this research and care. Thank you all for your support throughout the past year.

But it’s the patients and survivors whose stories inspire the work we at the Foundation and our colleagues at the BC Cancer Agency do.  Patients like Anita Cochrane. 

Anita wrote a few weeks ago in one of Nick’s postings, but I’ve asked her to join us again and tell us about her hopes for 2010. Anita writes:

As 2009 comes to an end amid the busy-ness of the holidays, I have found a few moments to reflect on the past year and anticipate what’s in store for 2010.

2009 started with some difficulty with my health, as the chemo I was on was no longer working. That’s what happens: the cancer becomes resistant to the chemo and the chemo eventually becomes ineffective. We always hope the chemo will work for a long time, because the longer it does, the more research can happen, giving us more options to try.

Having been diagnosed with stage IV, terminal breast cancer in 2005, I was extremely thrilled to be able to witness some of the research advances in 2009 at the BC Cancer Agency including Dr. Huntsman’s ovarian cancer discovery, and Dr. Aparicio and Dr. Marra’s discovery mapping out the DNA of a lobular breast tumour. It’s very exciting to witness this progress, and also to meet and talk with these scientists and see their enthusiasm over their work. It’s very hopeful to see how motivated and passionate they are to take their research to the next level!

Fortunately, we were able to get my disease back under control with a few radiation treatments and by starting on a new chemo regime. I am one of the “unlucky, lucky” patients who responds to most chemotherapies – I have responded to all but one. I did with this latest chemo as well and my tumor markers dropped nicely, signaling that things were going really well in my fight against cancer.

Unfortunately though, I have been receiving some not so positive test results recently. My tumor markers have been increasing and the pain in my bones from the breast cancer has increased significantly. I have to take some potent pain medication to maintain my quality of life and to manage the holidays. I also had a radiation treatment to help alleviate some of the pain and it has worked well.

The caregivers at the BC Cancer Agency are such kind and wonderful people and help make this experience so much easier, especially during this time of the year. Their positive outlook, their kind words, or an extra gentle touch might seem so small to them, but it is so significant to a patient like me – they are truly special people.

Not only do the physical side effects cause discomfort, but they increase anxieties and emotions begin to run high. I will be honest, some days are harder than others, but what most helps to keep me calm as I live with a terminal disease is knowing that I have been able to get this disease under control so many times in the past. I trust that my cancer care team will be able to come up with a new treatment for me to try and I know they will do their best to help me through this journey. I am confident that I will respond to whatever it is we decide to try next, and it will last long enough for me to see other discoveries that will hopefully benefit me, and if not me, other women going through a very similar journey.

I continue to hope for the best, not only for my own future, but for other cancer patients as well. It’s important for all of us to continue giving to and supporting the BC Cancer Foundation. Let’s make 2010 another amazing year of success for our health, and for more cancer discoveries!!! 

Warm wishes,
Anita Cochrane

Anita’s words are a powerful testimony to the value of investing together in cancer research. All of us at the BC Cancer Foundation share Anita’s hope for many more exciting and fruitful research advances in the year ahead.

I invite you to join us in helping to this happen and wish you all the very best for 2010,

Cheers,
Doug