BC Cancer Foundation receives Canada’s largest philanthropic gift to lung cancer from Leon Judah Blackmore Foundation
February 4, 2021
VANCOUVER, B.C. – The BC Cancer Foundation has announced a philanthropic investment of $15.3 million from the Leon Judah Blackmore Foundation to advance lung cancer research and care.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death in B.C., across Canada and worldwide. Six British Columbians die of lung cancer every day.
This is Canada's largest known philanthropic investment specifically supporting lung cancer, a long stigmatized and underfunded area in cancer research. The transformational donation will place BC Cancer at the global forefront of innovation in early detection, treatment and high impact research.
“Far too many families in B.C. and around the world have experienced pain and loss at the hands of lung cancer. Today marks a critical moment in the race to change outcomes.
On behalf of all individuals with this devastating illness, I thank the Leon Judah Blackmore Foundation for the hope they’ve provided,” says Sarah Roth, President & CEO, BC Cancer Foundation.
The goal is to immediately begin work at BC Cancer that will see significant advancements in treatment and survival. Leading the vision, Dr. Stephen Lam, Leon Judah Blackmore Chair in Lung Cancer Research, BC Cancer, has been a pioneer in developing population-based lung cancer screening technology and systems, innovative breath-based detection tools, and advanced detection of the earliest signs of lung cancer.
“This is a significant moment for people facing lung cancer as we will seek out and find more cures. With this investment, B.C. can build on our unique breadth of expertise to develop innovative early detection methods through breath and microbiome research, artificial intelligence, new therapeutics to prevent and cure lung cancers, and methods to stop tumour resistance and recurrence,” says Dr. Lam.
The Leon Judah Blackmore Foundation is a Vancouver based charitable organization established by the late Leon Judah Blackmore who became personally inspired by Dr. Lam’s work into lung cancer screening more than a decade ago. Leon was an early participant in a pilot study to identify individuals at the highest risk of developing lung cancer. Leon was a strong believer in Dr. Lam’s research and his ability to revolutionize the science, knowledge, prevention and care for individuals impacted by this deadly disease.
“Today we honour the late Leon Judah Blackmore with a donation we believe will elevate and accelerate the work of the best and brightest lung cancer research and care team there is. Leon was inspired by Dr. Stephen Lam and BC Cancer, he believed that they could completely change the story for lung cancer, and we were compelled to give knowing how many lives this will help here in B.C., across Canada and around the world,” says Nicola Brailsford, CEO & Trustee, Leon Judah Blackmore Foundation.
For individuals facing lung cancer today, the donation is a beacon of hope. Burnaby resident, Alan Soon is living with advanced stage lung cancer, made possible thanks to recent advances in treatment options. Diagnosed in February 2019, the never-smoker and his family were in complete shock.
Today, thanks to his progressive care at BC Cancer, Alan is on a maintenance treatment every three weeks which has kept his cancer stable and allows him a quality of life to enjoy with his wife and their two teenage children.
Alan believes this donation is, “a real game-changer, a donation of this scope gives hope to late stage patients like myself. It shows empathy to people with a cancer that has long been stigmatized and has not seen an equitable level of support. We hope that new treatment development will allow us to live with lung cancer as a chronic disease and to die with it, not of it.”
LUNG CANCER FACTS:
- Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in B.C., across Canada and around the world
- World-wide, more than 2 million people are diagnosed with lung cancer each year and approximately 1.76 million will die from it [Source: WHO]
- Over half of lung cancers are diagnosed at a late stage when only 19% of patients reach the 5-year survival
- When caught early, over 80% of lung cancer patients reach the 5-year survival
- 8 in 10 lung cancers are preventable
- BC was the first jurisdiction in Canada to announce a lung cancer screening program [Sept. 2020]
- Environmental factors that contribute to lung cancer risk include: smoking, air pollution, radon exposure, asbestos, arsenic and other chemicals
- As a young boy, Leon Judah Blackmore arrived in Winnipeg with his mother and six siblings, fleeing the Holocaust in Poland
- As a young adult Leon moved to Vancouver where he built a legacy in business, notably as a real estate developer in Greater Vancouver and Victoria
- Leon loved wildlife and was known to spend time feeding the birds in Stanley Park
- Giving back was a tenet passed down from Leon’s mother, which he took very seriously, giving generously to people and organizations that have an impact in improving health and the community
- Leon and the Leon Judah Blackmore Foundation have donated a collective $18.9 million to the BC Cancer Foundation over the past 15 years