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BREAKTHROUGH Fall 2021

Fall 2021

Lindsay Family

Opening Thoughts

Sarah Roth

BC Cancer Foundation President & CEO Sarah Roth

We all have our own reasons for supporting cancer research and care.

Mine is my Aunt Leesa. My mother’s younger sister is a loving mother and grandmother, and one of my favourite people. And so six months ago, I was devastated to learn that she has pancreatic cancer.

Leesa has just undergone an innovative new treatment, which unfortunately was not successful. But one day, with advancements in precision medicine, which takes into account the genetics of each individual patient, that same therapy might save someone else.

This is why it’s so important that we continue to support the world-class talent at BC Cancer who fuel progress in science and medicine.

An example of which is PSMA-PET imaging, a state-of-theart new screening which allows oncologists to pinpoint recurrences of prostate cancer earlier and more accurately, enabling highly-tailored treatment.

With cancer affecting one in two of us in our lifetime, we’re all intimately motivated to work towards a cure. For Kelowna dad and Tour de Cure participant Kevin Witzke,  the impetus was his son Nicholas, who sadly passed away from colon cancer this past spring.

Alternatively, for East Vancouver philanthropist Sylvia Shelton, the push wasn’t her own well-being but that of her community, who will be greatly impacted by a gift to the Foundation in her will.

Your generous donations have the potential to benefit someone you love. Someone like my Aunt Leesa. And for that I am personally grateful.

Sincerely,

Sarah Roth
President & CEO
BC Cancer Foundation

New Hope for Treatment-Resistant Breast Cancer

This year 4,060 British Columbians will be diagnosed with breast cancer. While many will be treated successfully, triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) remains resistant to most forms of treatment.

Dr. Sam Aparacio

Dr. Sam Aparacio

An innovative, new study co-led by BC Cancer’s Dr. Samuel Aparicio, integrates machine learning to analyze the impacts of targeted treatment, shining an encouraging light on this evasive cancer and providing hope that one day it might be possible to foresee how its tumours will evolve over time.

“Ultimately, the approach could provide a means to predict whether a patient’s tumour may stop responding to a treatment and identify the cells that are responsible for the relapse,” says Dr. Aparicio. “This could mean highly tailored treatments, delivered at the optimal time, to produce better outcomes for people with triple negative breast cancer.”

BC Cancer Foundation is proud to support Dr. Aparicio’s work as part of our commitment to raise $20 million to advance research for women’s cancers.

To support incredible breakthroughs in breast cancer research, contact Rhea Siu at rhea.siu@bccancer.bc.ca or 778-822-8636.

Paying it Forward

Nancy Cleveland

Nancy Cleveland

When Nancy Cleveland made her first visit to BC Cancer in 2018, she was diagnosed with Stage 3C ovarian cancer.

It was at this appointment that her oncologist told her of a clinical trial which would ultimately change the course of her illness.

The trial helped save Nancy’s life.

Today, Nancy is thankfully in remission, and has committed to championing gynecologic cancer research by fundraising for BC Cancer’s Ovarian Cancer Research (OVCARE) team, in support of their ambitious goal to reduce the incidence of ovarian cancer by 50% in the next 15 years.

“When I was undergoing chemo, I knew that someone before me had gone through a trial in order for me to be at this place,” says Nancy, “so I feel it’s important to give back.” Thank you Nancy for your ongoing support!

To learn how you can help drive innovations in gynecologic cancer research and treatment, contact Alyson Killam at 604.788.0897 or akillam@bccancer.bc.ca.

Lindsay Family

Lindsay Family

Miles for Myles

Myles Lindsay is a 14-year-old boy from Vancouver who loves fishing, spending time with friends and family and his dog Stella. Myles also has Stage 4 gastric cancer.

In September 2020, Myles began feeling ill, experiencing intestinal and gut-related issues. It wasn’t serious at first, but after six months he was admitted to hospital.

Within a month, he was diagnosed with a Stage 4 gastric cancer called Diffuse Infiltrating Gastric Carcinoma, an adult stomach cancer rarely found in teenagers.

Myles is part of a big, loving family which includes a twin brother Nathan, two more brothers, Matt and Cole, his parents Scott and Lana, many aunts and uncles and 17 cousins.

The family struggled with the devastating diagnosis. And then, decided to act.

Earlier this year, they formed Team Miles for Myles to fundraise for the BC Cancer Foundation’s Workout to Conquer Cancer challenge in May, as a way to show their support for Myles as he underwent treatment.

“Workout to Conquer Cancer allowed us to feel useful and purposeful in the face of this terrible disease,” says Sue Richardson, Myles’ aunt. “We are all still reeling, but Myles has been an absolute warrior. He has been positive, uncomplaining and just forging ahead with his chemo and other treatments.”

Team Miles for Myles, comprised of families across B.C. as well as cousins in New York, Ottawa and Scotland, was Workout’s top fundraising team this year, raising an incredible $92,186 for the Foundation!

Currently, Myles is undergoing treatment. He began chemotherapy in April, and has had a biopsy of his tumours submitted to the BC Cancer PROFYLE (PRecision Oncology For Young PeopLE) program for genomic analysis. This will help experts better understand his disease and inform future treatments.

Although it hasn’t been easy, Myles still finds the strength to go fishing and spend time with family and friends, cracking as many jokes as he can.

A reminder to us all that it’s possible to find hope and meaning in the toughest of times.

Donors like you help propel genomic innovation that can save more young patients
like Myles.

To learn more about PROFYLE contact Rhea Siu at rhea.siu@bccancer.bc.ca
or 778-822-8636.

Cancer Can't Hide, Thanks to State-of-the-Art Imaging Technology

PSMA-PET

PSMA-PET Scanner

“We can’t treat what we can’t see,” says BC Cancer radiation oncologist, Dr. Abraham Alexander. A simple statement, but one at the crux of the profound impact, Prostate-Specific Membrane Antigen (PSMA)-PET is making in managing – and curing – prostate cancer.

PSMA-PET imaging is much more sensitive at detecting whether prostate cancer has spread – 85% compared to the 38% of conventional imaging. It’s also much more likely to catch recurrence early, and can pinpoint the exact location, allowing oncologists to target their treatments.

Our Foundation has partnered with BC Cancer experts to fund a clinical trial that could make this technology more accessible throughout the province.

“The problem is PSMA-PET imaging is currently only available at BC Cancer – Vancouver,” says Dr. Alexander. “And they’re servicing the entire province, so right now the waitlist is eight to 10 months.”

Unfortunately, for many prostate cancer patients that’s too late. However, we can change this.

With donors like you, we can bring PSMA-PET technology to the Victoria and Kelowna centres, which could dramatically impact wait times and help save more lives.

The Foundation is hosting a unique digital experience, An Evening of Inspiration, on Nov.18. This event will help advance PSMA-PET technology in B.C. Learn more at bccancerfoundation.com/Inspiration

A Father's Tribute

“I keep Nicholas’ memory alive by riding his favourite bike almost every day. When I grip the handlebars, it’s like I’m holding his hands. When I wear his jerseys, I feel his embrace.” -Kevin Witzke

Kevin and Nicholas

Kevin and Nicholas Witzke

Kevin Witzke’s son Nicholas was his best friend. Since their first rides together, nearly 10 years ago, the two shared a passion for cycling.

Nicholas may have enjoyed uphill climbs more than his father, but Kevin cherished the opportunity to share an activity he loves with his child. The physical and mental strength it took to compete at higher levels had Nicholas hooked and, together the two challenged many races in B.C. over the past decade.

Their last ride together was to Nicholas’ chemotherapy appointment this past December.

In October 2019, as a fit and active 31-year-old, Nicholas was diagnosed with colon cancer. He had no previous symptoms, but by the time he received his diagnosis, it was already Stage 4.

“We were left shaking our heads,” Kevin recalls, “Asking, ‘What happened to Stages 1, 2 and 3?’”

Despite the progression of his illness, Nicholas wasn’t going to let the disease stop him from following one of his dreams – connecting with his southern Italian heritage.

With the help of his team at BC Cancer, he found a clinic in Siracusa, Italy where his chemotherapy could continue, and made the move to Sicily.

Nicholas responded well to treatment in Italy, where he was visited by his father Kevin, his mother Rita, and two sisters. With his father at his side, he was able to cycle the 25 km to his chemotherapy appointments. While not the races they once took part in, these rides allowed them to continue their father-son tradition.

In December 2020, Nicholas’ condition deteriorated and in April, he returned to B.C. The journey home was difficult, and he was admitted to hospital in Kelowna.

Five days later, on April 29, Nicholas passed away.

Nicholas’s journey with colon cancer is Kevin’s motivation for founding team Nicolavoca and joining the BC Cancer Foundation’s Tour De Cure, presented by Wheaton Precious Metals.

“I’m compelled to tell others that early detection can offer hope for better treatment and results,” Kevin says. “I encourage others who love their children, or have seen the suffering of friends and families struck by cancer at a young age, to support the Tour de Cure.”

On Aug. 28, only four months after Nicholas’ passing, Kevin got on his son’s bike and cycled 160 km in Kelowna. Though the scenic route he chose, he admits, was different than the one Nicholas would have taken.

“Nicholas would have filled the route with climbs.”

In 2022, the Tour de Cure, presented by Wheaton Precious Metals, will return with a one-day, in-person cycling experience. This special event will continue
its legacy of funding vital research to break down cancer.

Learn more about Tour de Cure at tourdecure.ca.

A Journey that Inspired Action

Shannon-and-family

Shannon Gall and Family

Shannon Gall has been a dedicated supporter of the BC Cancer Foundation since she was told she had Stage 4 lung cancer in 2018.

A shocking diagnosis in that she had never smoked in her life.

Shannon became committed to making a profound impact. With the support of her family and her colleagues at PH&N, she fundraised over $1 million to launch a province-wide lung cancer screening.

Thanks to the BC Cancer Personalized Onco-Genomics (POG) program, and an excellent care team, Shannon is still here and determined to drive more care innovation. In June, Shannon joined the Board of Directors at the Foundation to explore new avenues of impact.

Her next goal is to raise $2 million for PROFYLE (PRecision Oncology For Young PeopLE), which aims to use world-class research to develop more effective treatment solutions for young patients facing cancer.

We’re thrilled to have Shannon on our board and look forward to collaborating on new opportunities to break down cancer in the year ahead.

Easing Burden in the North, One Gift at a Time

When Glenn McLean was diagnosed with cancer, he received support from one of the on-site Indigenous cancer care counsellors at BC Cancer – Prince George who helped him navigate his diagnosis.

Glenn McLean

Glenn McLean

In gratitude, Glenn made a generous donation to the centre’s Patient Comfort Fund to help support other patients like himself in his home community.

The Patient Comfort Fund allows donors like you to bring relief to patients who need support with travel and accommodations, access to medications, as well as food and more. This allows patients and families to redirect more energy and resources to their treatment, especially when care lies outside their home community.

We thank Glenn for stopping by the centre to show his support!

To learn more about how you can support the Patient Comfort Fund and BC Cancer – Prince George, contact Pardeep Khrod at pardeep.khrod@bccancer.bc.ca or 250.878.5490.

Sylvia’s Legacy

Sylvia Shelton's life was defined by her generous spirit and now that legacy of giving continues with a gift in her will to BC Cancer Foundation.

Sylvia Shelton

Sylvia Shelton

Sylvia Shelton was the hardest working person her family knew.

Born and raised in East Vancouver, Sylvia was passionately dedicated to her community, her work, as well as her family and loved ones.

A lawyer since 1976, Sylvia always talked about retiring, but she never did. She was there for her community, often offering a lot of legal work pro-bono for those in need. Some clients even gave her artwork as payment, which she happily accepted.

Causes that impacted her community were close to her heart, so she was often found hosting her own bottle drive fundraisers in the neighbourhood.

This was the essence of who Sylvia was.

In 2019, at the age of 69, Sylvia passed away from ovarian cancer. Still as dedicated to her community as ever, she worked up until her final days.

Her life was defined by her generous spirit and now that legacy of giving continues with a gift in her will to BC Cancer Foundation.

Sylvia witnessed the innovations and expertise at BC Cancer first-hand and was inspired to give back.

“She knew she wouldn’t benefit from this donation herself, but others will and this was to help those who would come after her,” says Mike Shelton, Sylvia’s nephew.

Sylvia’s family has generously offered to help match donations dollar-for-dollar, up to $500,000 until October 31st, committing a portion of her Estate to advance genomics research.

Donations will also be matched through the Marathon of Hope Cancer Centres Network, to triple the impact for patients in the future.

“Sylvia knew she had everything she needed, she worked so hard but she was all about the simple things,” says Mike. “She was always aware that many people weren’t in her position, and she felt she had a personal responsibility to give back, which she was happy to do.”

Donors are now able to join Sylvia and have their gift triple matched until Oct.31!
Visit bccancerfoundation.com/match to give online today.

From Miracles to Movement

In 2019 at age 33, Linda Bui’s world changed when she received a shocking diagnosis – she had lymphoma.

Linda Bui and Son

Linda and her son

She lived in denial of the news for a few weeks until she fell ill and ended up in the ER. Her disease, she was told, was Stage 4B lymphoma and required chemotherapy right away, with no time to lose.

Unfortunately, Linda experienced an adverse reaction to treatment and was rushed to the ICU, where she was diagnosed with the rare Hemophagocytic Lymph Histiocytosis (HLH). This meant her immune system wasn’t working properly and some of her white blood cells were attacking her other blood cells.

“I hadn’t realized the severity of what was going on,” says Linda. “I knew one thing: I needed to live – to be alive for my son. I still had so many experiences and things I wanted to live for.”

In the care of BC Cancer experts, she was determined to get better.

Then, one week later, in an incredible turn of events, Linda’s condition improved dramatically and she was able to continue with her treatments, out of the ICU.

In January 2020, Linda’s scans showed no evidence of cancer.

Linda channeled her gratitude into participating in the Workout to Conquer Cancer, this past May.

As an ambassador of both BC Cancer expertise and the power of positivity, she was able to raise funds for other patients around the province.

Thank you Linda for inspiring us with your courage and Workout to Conquer Cancer participation!