President & CEO, BC Cancer Foundation

Philanthropy and research is truly a partnership. We can have a lab full of talented and passionate researchers, but if we don’t have the dollars to fund the research, then the leading-edge discoveries that the BC Cancer Agency has become renowned for wouldn’t happen. There are lots of examples, but I will highlight one—OVCARE—BC’s Ovarian Cancer Research Program.

Traditionally, ovarian cancer had been poorly funded and under researched, and outcomes were generally poor for a significant number of women. Then the idea for OVCARE was created by Drs. David Huntsman, Dianne Miller and Blake Gilks.

Thanks to Foundation donors, who became partners in OVCARE, it has developed into one of the world’s leading ovarian cancer research programs. Researchers discovered that ovarian cancer is not a single disease, but multiple, distinct disease types. This fundamentally changed the way research is conducted. A screening test is now available for women who are at high risk of developing ovarian cancer, because of inherited factors. And OVCARE researchers discovered that the most common and most fatal type of ovarian cancer originates in the fallopian tubes, changing recommended surgical practice, and launching the world’s first ovarian cancer prevention campaign.  

Overall, we are making significant progress in cancer care and research, yet I still get letters from patients telling me they have exhausted all options. How do we give people more time and more treatment options? This is what motivates me. Imagine the possibilities. It’s foolish to think I won’t still get letters from people who are scared and feel helpless, because they are running out of time and no treatment seems to work. But what if we could do for all cancers what we’ve done with OVCARE? We know that cancer is a challenging disease and research is expensive—think equipment, teams of researchers, and physical space—but I believe we can.

Investors finance ideas with the hope that once they go to market they will gain a financial reward. When someone invests in cancer research the return is a life-saved. That’s the promise we offer.

Today, we have 95,000 donors, or investors, supporting our work. Our opportunity is to magnify that.


Sarah