Radiation Oncologist, BC Cancer Agency Sindi Ahluwalia Hawkins Centre for the Southern Interior

It is Monday night... just finishing a few things and making sure all the patients are booked for their treatment.

On Mondays, I see three new patients (with a new diagnosis of cancer) and many others in follow-up.  Today, I had a medical student with me, Michelle.  She is not only very intelligent but she also cares a lot for her patients.  This is what will make her an excellent doctor in a few years.

Last week we were talking about cancer research and how it is funded. There are actually a number of ways:

For international clinical trials that are sponsored by large research groups, our department receives a reimbursement per patient enrolled in the study.  These funds serve to pay the staff working in the clinical trial unit (research nurses, coordinators, clerks) and to run the trial.  This funding covers just enough to pay the basic necessities.

There are other clinical trials that are sponsored by grants.  As a group we apply for these kinds of grants regularly.  They can be a lot of work to obtain but very beneficial for our department.  For example, Prostate Cancer Canada allocates for prostate cancer research every year.

We also have the BC Cancer Foundation.  The Foundation funds cancer research in our province that has a direct impact on improvements to cancer care for our patients. I have to say that the Foundation has been very supportive of our research endeavours, most recently for our High-Dose Rate (HDR) Prostate Brachytherapy program. Also, groups like the Okanagan Motorcycle Ride for Dads also give to the Foundation, helping to support the HDR program.

Our patients give to the BC Cancer Foundation, therefore giving back to us and other patients, which brings everything full circle.  Today, one of my patients asked me about our current projects and how he could help us.  He gave us a substantial gift last year and wants to continue to give every year.  He is thrilled to hear about what we are doing with his gift.  I always make sure to mention to patients participating in our clinical trials that they are made possible through the generosity of men and women who give to the Foundation across the province. 

As you can see it is not enough to simply do research and offer clinical trials to your patients, both require ongoing support to help improve outcomes for those facing a cancer journey in our province.