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Supporting Oral Cancer Research through Community and Philanthropy

August 26, 2014

Hello, my name is Brenda Currie and my journey to support oral cancer research through community-based philanthropy was a deliberate choice. I was inspired by the talented team of researchers at the BC Cancer Agency in the BC Oral Cancer Prevention Program (BC OCPP), and the realization that there was no community fundraising in support of oral cancer research.

I am a dental hygienist who decided to go back to school after many years of working in various types of clinical dental hygiene practice. After completing my Bachelor of Science degree at UBC Faculty of Dentistry, I was drawn to a unique Master’s program with the BC OCPP at the BC Cancer Agency, where I studied community-based oral cancer screening in vulnerable populations.

The rest is history: after more than six years of study with the BC OCPP research team and a conversation with one of my mentors, Dr. Lewei Zhang, I was hooked. I decided to concentrate my efforts on helping to increase awareness about oral cancer and raise much-needed funds to support the world-class research by the BC OCPP at the BC Cancer Agency.

I am not a professional fundraiser or marketer! The task to go out to community and raise money truly was a challenge for me but one that I was determined to accomplish.  I credit the tremendous and ongoing support from my husband and family, a dedicated committee and the BC Cancer Foundation for the success of the fundraising event I established in 2012: “An Evening to Conquer Oral Cancer”. This is very much a team effort.

I am proud to say “An Evening to Conquer Oral Cancer” is now going into its fourth year. It is currently the first and only fundraiser of its kind in B.C. In three years we have grown significantly and raised over $200,000 for the BC Cancer Foundation in support of the BC OCPP. Equally important, I feel we have made significant strides in increasing the awareness about oral cancer.

My journey is really just beginning – I know that as a community we can make a difference, provide hope to those afflicted with oral cancer, and inspire the researchers, clinicians and caregivers who work tirelessly and selflessly to improve outcomes. This is my story and my passion.

Together we can!