Armstrong cancer patient praises care at Kelowna, Vernon centres

Life-saving advances

"It's amazing. Every time you think there's nothing more they can do, there's another advance that comes around and that gives you chances."

Powerful words from Armstrong resident Carla Schutte, a cancer patient since 2014.

Schutte has been a patient at BC Cancer's Kelowna treatment centre and the Vernon satellite centre since being diagnosed with adrenal cortical carcinoma, a rare form of adrenal cancer.

For four years, she underwent numerous surgeries and chemotherapy, but tumours continued to grow and spread, including to her peritoneum and brain.

Dr. Edward Hardy, Schutte's oncologist in Vernon, however, remained determined.

Carla's cancer has a specific mutation that is not often seen in adrenocortical carcinoma. He stayed up to date on the latest research and in 2018 found a new, global clinical trial studying this mutation.

Schutte says Hardy's reassuring presence helped assuage her fears.

During the height of her treatment, Carla was at the Kelowna centre nearly every week.

She says the personal connections made with doctors and nurses made all the difference in her experience.

Today, Schutte's cancer is stable.

She has 'graduated' to CT scans every three months, instead of every six weeks. Her grandchildren keep her busy and she’s thankful for the time she has to spend with them.

World Cancer Day is Feb. 4, a global uniting initiative led by the Union for International Cancer Control.

It marks the second year of a three-year 'close the care gap' campaign centred on the issue of equity.

Meanwhile, the BC Cancer Foundation is fundraising for a new world-class systemic therapy suite in Kelowna that will increase its capacity to deliver treatments by 40% and bring more innovative, life-saving clinical trials to the Interior.

"They know how to take care of you, they really do," says Schutte.

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