Co-op and Cancer Foundation rally to fund new therapies

Peninsula Co-op has joined forces with the B.C. Cancer Foundation to fund innovative therapies for cancer patients on Vancouver Island.

Starting today and until July 31, Peninsula Co-op will match every donation made on the Island to the B.C. Cancer Foundation up to a total of $75,000. The money will pay for new cutting-edge treatment options for cancer patients.

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“The foundation is tracking every donation made until July 31,” said Hayley Judge, B.C. Cancer Foundation communications specialist. “And Peninsula Co-op will match every donation made on Vancouver Island. So our team is tracking the Vancouver Island donations and will report back to Peninsula Co-op.”

Innovative therapies have saved the lives of cancer patients such as Linda West, said Cynthia Durand-Smith, B.C. Cancer Foundation director on Vancouver Island.

West learned she had breast cancer in 2003 and had six months of chemotherapy followed by 35 radiation treatments. She recovered. But in 2016, West experienced breathlessness. She was rushed to emergency and learned her cancer had returned. It was Stage 4 and had spread to her lungs, bones, liver and brain.

After she tried several different chemotherapies, her oncologist recommended two innovative therapies that have kept the cancer at bay for three years.

Today, West enjoys long walks, golfing and entertaining. “I’m making the most of my life and appreciate every day I have,” she told Durand-Smith. “Donations make such a difference to people living with cancer. They give hope.”

Innovative therapies include new treatments, precision radiation and clinical trials.

Clinical trials are a necessary step in cutting-edge research. Testing new drugs and drug combinations allows researchers to make breakthroughs that will directly benefit patients.

In Victoria, six patients with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer participated in an international Phase III clinical trial with a new drug, Keytruda. One patient is still showing a positive response and early analysis of the results suggests that patients treated with Keytruda had a significantly longer lifespan than those who received standard chemotherapy.

Two Victoria patients also enrolled in a trial to improve toxicity for women with cervical and endometrial cancer by comparing intensity-modulated radiation therapy with standard pelvic radiation. The results show a significant improvement in bowel and bladder side-effects for women treated with the therapy. Today, all B.C. cancer patients are offered targeted intensity-modulated radiation therapy because of the results of the trial.

A newly launched clinical trial for men with prostate cancer is comparing external beam radiotherapy with stereotactic body radiotherapy, which may allow treatments to be given safely in larger fractions. The results of the trial could potentially improve outcomes for a significant number of men in B.C.

This year, more than 27,000 people in B.C. are expected to be diagnosed with cancer.

ldickson@timescolonist.com

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