B.C. father wants to change the story for future pediatric cancer patients
November 8, 2011
Vancouver, B.C. – Patrick Sullivan lost his three-year-old son to a rare cancer and is committed to changing future outcomes. To aid with this, Sullivan and the BC Cancer Foundation are launching an awareness video to change the story for children diagnosed with cancer in the future.
“Doctors couldn’t change Finn’s story. Incurable was his ending. If I could change that for somebody else, then every moment of time is worth it,” says Patrick Sullivan, whose son Finn was diagnosed with a rare cancer just a few months before his second birthday.
Sullivan, with his wife Samantha and their two children, Sarah and Baird, have taken the grief from losing Finn and transformed it into a movement of hope. In honour of Finn’s spirit, they have formed Team Finn and in three short years have raised over $1 million for the BC Cancer Foundation to ensure other families experience a different ending.
Finn was diagnosed with a rare cancer that affects the connective tissues—rhabdomyosarcoma— and underwent over a year of treatments to save his life. Sullivan keeps Finn’s impossibly long string of courage beads with each bead representing a test, chemotherapy treatment, radiation session or surgery that his son endured as a reminder of what cancer treatment presently means and why we have to change it.
Significant strides in cancer treatments have transformed once terminal cancer diagnoses into curable or manageable outcomes. While this is great news for British Columbians, more research must be done to alter the course of future diagnoses of rare, little-understood, cancers.
Sullivan’s mission is clear, “We need the funds to advance the research to find the answers, to implement the changes in treatment. I speak about cancer, I ride my bike, I do these things because I want to change the story. I want a different ending.”
Dr. Poul Sorensen of the BC Cancer Agency is working with colleagues at the Genome Sciences Centre and partners at BC Children’s Hospital to better understand rare childhood cancers. This powerhouse team is committed to improving pediatric cancer outcomes by exploiting the genomic technology and biology expertise at their fingertips to personalize treatment based on each patient’s genetic profiles.
“I am awestruck by the strength and commitment of the Sullivans. Every person in B.C. needs to watch this video to understand the monumental impact that a few individuals can have on the future of cancer care in our province,” says Dr. Sorensen, Johal Chair in Childhood Cancer Research with BC Cancer Agency and UBC. “Our team is committed to a different ending for children like Finn. With people like the Sullivans there to support and push us, how could we not do our utmost to make this happen?”