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Beyond Barriers: Paying it Forward to Increase Access to Life-saving Care

February 4, 2023

Catherine Perka and her husband Dan

Catherine Perka and her husband Dan spend their summers relaxing at their trailer on the lake in Salmon Arm. But after her colorectal cancer diagnosis in 2019, she began to look at her idyllic escape from her busy life as an accountant in Surrey a little differently.

“I was lucky to be about 20 minutes from BC Cancer – Surrey, but people in more rural areas don’t have that luxury,” she says of her proximity to the daily radiation treatments she required over five weeks.

Catherine also required six rounds of chemotherapy where she had a front row seat to just how busy BC Cancer – Surrey’s chemo suite is. And with one in three new cancer cases projected to come out of the rapidly growing Fraser region in the next five years, it’s quickly reaching capacity.

Grateful for her care, Catherine and Dan planned a fundraising pub night in March 2020 to celebrate the end of her treatment with friends and family, and help fuel the expansion of the chemo suite — which will allow for 700 to 900 more chemo infusions a month.

“Right now they can service 60% of patients in the first two weeks. With the upgrades that will increase significantly,” says Catherine, who knows expediting access to treatment is imperative to recovery, physically and mentally.

“Getting inCatherine Perka receiving treatment at BC Cancer – Surrey’s chemo suite there and starting treatment quickly is crucial to better outcomes. And once you’re diagnosed, to just sit there and wait, and wait, is so hard emotionally,” she says.

COVID-19, of course, intervened and the Perkas had to postpone their pub night, but they still raised $6380 via online donations. When they finally rescheduled in 2022 — they were even more thankful to BC Cancer as Catherine’s dad had just undergone his own cancer journey with leukemia — and they raised another $7690, for a total of more than $14,000.

Catherine and Dan’s generous gift will be divided between colorectal and leukemia research and the expansion of BC Cancer – Surrey’s new chemo suite, and is a testament to how one family can rally a community to help increase access to life-saving care, close to home.

Donate now to help bring cancer care closer to home for all British Columbians.