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Conquering cancer on two wheels

In my previous post I mentioned the BC Cancer Agency’s OVCARE team and the great work they’ve done to position themselves as one of the world’s leading ovarian cancer research teams. They’re not only conquering cancer in the lab, but they’re also doing it on two wheels. With its many supporters, OVCARE has participated every year in The Ride to Conquer Cancer, and is one of the top fundraising teams. Over the past seven years they have raised more than $780,000, and are on track to reach an amazing $1 million dollars with this year’s event. Collectively, the Ride has raised more than $70...

Investing in people's lives

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...

It's about the people for foundation president

I am very pleased to be this month’s guest blogger. I joined the BC Cancer Foundation as its new President and CEO in mid-April and since then I have been so inspired by the many incredible donors who support the BC Cancer Agency’s brilliant and compassionate team of physicians and scientists. I thought I’d take this opportunity to share a bit about me. I grew up in New Jersey – yes, I am American (and now also Canadian) – and moved to Vancouver from Boston in 2008 with my husband and two children. Our decision to move west and emigrate was a very purposeful decision for both professional and...

Shining a spotlight on medical physics

Wow, time flies! This is my final post. I have tried over the past few weeks to provide some insight into what it means to be a medical physicist--the unique value we bring to the health care system, and to show you an example of the type of work we do to improve cancer care. I have highlighted the value of investing in our future: bright young graduate students and residents. In this light, I want to share with you that we are very excited here in Kelowna, as we have just had our new BC Cancer Agency/UBC Okanagan medical physics graduate program approved. It has been a tremendous amount of...

Planting seeds for future researchers

Last week I introduced some exciting, innovative work we are doing at the BC Cancer Agency – Southern Interior on permanent breast seed implant treatments for breast cancer. Today, I’d like to talk a bit about the vital importance of young physics trainees in pushing forward new treatments. Engaging bright, young physics trainees is, for me, one of the true joys of my work. I do this through my involvement in the Medical Physics Graduate Programs at the University of Victoria and now at UBC - Okanagan, and in my role at the BC Cancer Agency as Director of our provincial Medical Physics...

Contributing to Innovation in Health Care – Part 2

Yesterday, I shared how an innovative treatment for breast cancer is being offered in Kelowna, which has the promise to be implemented more widely and benefit more women. Since the beginning of our Permanent Breast Seed Implants program, we have had exactly this goal in mind: to innovate and evolve the technique to enable widespread clinical implementation. We aim specifically to improve and standardize the technique, so that other centres can adopt the procedure. I’m proud to say that we have already made significant progress. Some of the improvements we have developed include: A...

Contributing to Innovation in Health Care – Part 1

Hello again. The timing of this post has landed in the midst of a very exciting week for me, as I am currently attending a Medical Physics Leadership Academy, near Washington DC. Medical physicists from across the U.S. and Canada have gathered here to learn about effective leadership and discuss what it means to be a leader in medical physics. It has been an extremely interesting and informative meeting. One way medical physicists are leaders is in health care innovation. With advanced graduate degrees, we are trained critical thinkers who naturally ask tough questions and who are skilled at...

Hooked on Medical Physics

I am very happy to have been invited to be the guest blogger this month. I hope you will enjoy our short journey together and learn a bit about medical physics, as it relates to innovation in cancer care. I was born and raised in Deep River, a small town in Ontario, where, yes, the Ottawa River is at its very deepest—123 metres (400 ft.). Deep River was an interesting place to grow up. The town was built in the 1950s as the residential site for employees of Atomic Energy of Canada’s Chalk River Nuclear Laboratories, a world class research facility. When I was growing up, this town in the...

Introducing June Guest Blogger: Dr. Michelle Hilts

Thank you to our May guest blogger, Dr. David Scott, who shared some interesting insight into work that he and his team are doing to better understand and treat lymphoma. This month we’re excited to welcome Dr. Michelle Hilts, a medical physicist at the BC Cancer Agency’s Centre for the Southern Interior. Dr. Hilts has been with the Cancer Agency for 17 years, and before settling in the Okanagan worked at the Vancouver and Vancouver Island Cancer Centres. She finds the combination of clinical duties, research and teaching very fulfilling, and feels especially lucky to be able to mentor young...

Leaning on Darwin’s thinking

In previous posts I wrote about matching treatment to the patient’s tumour. Currently, we choose treatments primarily based on what the lymphoma looks like down the microscope. At this time, we treat all patients who have diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, the most common form of lymphoma, with one chemotherapy recipe called R-CHOP. This works quite well, curing about 60 percent of patients. But if the treatment fails the disease becomes very difficult to overcome. To improve outcomes and make a difference for patients, research needs to be translated into targeted therapies and tests to choose...

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