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KGH Day of Giving raising hundreds of thousands for cancer care in Okanagan

KGH Day of Giving is here

Cancer touches all of us.

Whether it’s a mysterious lump, unexplained pain, swelling or weight loss, many people who may be otherwise perfectly healthy visit their family doctor or the emergency department in search of answers.

And sometimes the answer that comes back is cancer.

If cancer hasn’t affected you personally, chances are it has touched someone you love. It is anticipated that two in five Canadians will face a cancer diagnosis in their lifetime, many without a family history.

Kelowna General Hospital (KGH) is the region’s main referral hospital, and for those living in the Central Okanagan and surrounding communities, KGH is where they will begin their cancer journey. Last year, more than 7,500 people underwent surgery or were admitted for cancer-related care at KGH.

Last spring, the KGH Foundation launched its $40 million Closer to home than you think campaign to help fund the immediate needs and long-term system changes in local health care, both at KGH and in the community. This year, the focus is on advancing cancer care at KGH, ensuring that when this life-altering disease affects you or someone you love, world-class care is available, close to home.

The KGH Day of Giving is today, Wednesday, May 15. It is a one-day call to action to the community to come together and raise the funds needed to advance health care, right here at home.

This year, all funds raised on KGH Day of Giving will support the advancement of cancer care at KGH, specifically in the vital areas of medical imaging, pathology, surgical oncology and innovation.

Because cancer touches all of us.

The need is close to home

“When we need health care, we need it here, close to home—we don’t want to have to travel to Vancouver or Victoria,” says Debbie Robert, whose husband, Leo, began his cancer journey at Kelowna General Hospital in 2019. The Roberts are loyal supporters of the KGH Foundation and Debbie says, “Philanthropy plays an important role in making special things possible.”

While Leo passed in 2023, Debbie is grateful for the care that he received at KGH. “Leo fought his battle with cancer with an optimistic outlook and infectious positivity,” she says. “My family and I are grateful to the many health care professionals at KGH who provided exceptional care throughout this journey.”

Says KGH Foundation CEO Allison Young: “Taking on cancer is something that is never accomplished alone. We are working shoulder to shoulder with the incredible health-care providers at KGH to enhance their ability to deliver world-class cancer care where it matters most—right here, close to home.

“Our promise to this community is that every dollar you give will directly fund advancements in cancer care at Kelowna General Hospital. But this journey needs all of us.”

The Four Pillars of your Cancer Support

A person navigating a cancer diagnosis often follows a journey with medical imaging, possible biopsy, surgery as a primary intervention, and pathology or lab testing to provide critical information about the cancer type and characteristics.

Early detection through medical imaging

Early and clear detection through advanced medical imaging can significantly alter the course of a patient’s journey with cancer, leading to improved outcomes and survival rates.

“When we think about all that cancer care entails, it’s important to recognize the significance of early detection, timely and accurate diagnosis and surgery as a primary treatment,” KGH radiologist Dr. Brenda Farnquist says. “For example, medical imaging plays a crucial role. Early detection allows for less invasive treatment options and a higher likelihood of successful outcomes, as the cancer is often localized and has not spread extensively.”

Dr. Fahd Jowhari, an interventional gastroenterologist at KGH, echoes Dr. Farnquist’s sentiments. “We use an endoscopic ultrasound to assess the lining of the gastrointestinal tract with increased precision—something that is not accurately possible with cross sectional imaging such as with a CT scan or MRI,” Dr. Jowhari says. “Endoscopic ultrasound is an important tool to diagnose and stage cancers and also supports a myriad of other cancer and non-cancer related treatments.”

Funds raised on Day of Giving will support the addition of a second endoscopic ultrasound for Dr. Jowhari’s department. While KGH currently has one endoscopic ultrasound, a second is needed in order to meet the growing demand due to increased referrals and to accommodate the expanding use of the equipment.

The relief in knowing

For anyone who has ever found themselves waiting for pathology results, the wait is excruciating. Every moment seems like an eternity. In some cases, biopsy tissue must be sent to Vancouver, and a definitive answer may not be possible for several days … or weeks.

Dr. Dante D’Urbano is a pathologist at KGH and understands the mental anguish people go through while having to wait for results. “We know that for our patients, there is so much relief in knowing,” he says.

Funds raised on Day of Giving will support the purchase of equipment that will decrease the KGH pathology lab’s dependency on laboratories in the Lower Mainland and offer greater capacity for faster diagnostic services to patients.

“Having the technology to administer as many tests right here at KGH achieves four key things,” Dr. D’Urbano says. “It reduces the wait time for results, it reduces the risk of losing patients’ samples in transit, it decreases costs, and it increases our capacity to receive samples.”

Expertise and innovation in surgical oncology

For many cancer patients, surgery is often the primary treatment for solid tumours and can be curative when the cancer is localized. In some cases, surgery may be combined with other treatments, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy, to improve outcomes.

“The innovation taking place in surgical oncology has the potential to dramatically impact patient care and outcomes,” says Dr. Sita Ollek, a surgical oncologist at KGH. “In addition to being a primary treatment, surgery is often vital for accurate disease staging, increasing survival chances and reducing recurrence risks. Funding for the latest equipment and technologies will allow us to operate with enhanced precision, minimize invasiveness and shorten recovery times for our cancer patients.”

World-class cancer care, close to home

In the past several decades alone, infrastructure funding and over $100 million in philanthropic investment have propelled KGH to become one of the most advanced tertiary teaching hospitals in Canada. Today, KGH is a modern, progressive, growing centre of excellence for health care and hub for innovation.

“What matters most is the health care that’s being delivered right here, where we live, including cancer care,” Young said. “For most cancer patients living in the Central Okanagan, Kelowna General Hospital will be a huge part of their journey and we need to advance cancer care where it matters most for them—right here, close to home.

“Efforts like the KGH Day of Giving help us raise much-needed funds that allow us to support our health-care teams to enhance their ability to deliver the highest standard of care possible, which is what our community deserves.”

Thanks to the generosity of local families, all funds raised on KGH Day of Giving, up to $500,000, will be matched dollar for dollar until 11:59 p.m. on May 15.

For more information on the KGH Day of Giving and to make a gift, visit kghfoundation.com/day-of-giving.

This article is written by or on behalf of the sponsoring client and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.



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