BC Cancer Foundation raises $6.5 million to secure first-in-Canada treatment technology at the BC Cancer Agency

The technologically-advanced radiotherapy system will be the first machine of its kind in Canada

The BC Cancer Foundation has reached its $6.5-million fundraising target to purchase a state-of-the-art Vero™ machine to benefit cancer patients across B.C.

The technologically-advanced radiotherapy system will be the first machine of its kind in Canada, as renovations get underway to accommodate the new treatment delivery system at the BC Cancer Agency Vancouver Centre.

“We are pleased to announce that the VEROTM has been ordered entirely through the generosity of BC Cancer Foundation donors who are helping to ensure that patients have access to the most cutting-edge treatment technology and practices available,” said Douglas Nelson, President & CEO, BC Cancer Foundation.

In a matter of months, BC Cancer Foundation donors from across the province responded with contributions ranging from $20 to $2 million, and every dollar helped to ensure the VEROTM would be available to treat those diagnosed with rare and hard-to-treat cancers.

After losing a dear friend to brain cancer and receiving his own recent treatments for lymphoma, Hal Kettleson and his wife of 64 years, Anna, made a $2-million gift to the BC Cancer Foundation to secure VEROTM and the expanded treatment options it offers for patients at the BC Cancer Agency.

“I read a newspaper article that alerted me to the need for the VEROTM machine and its potential to help cancer patients. My wife and I thought of our late friend lost to cancer and wanted to make this offer so there is something new in treatment, the only one in operation in Canada,” said Kettleson. Grateful for his own recent cancer care, he said, “I received exemplary treatment when I had to undergo chemotherapy and am now 90 per cent back to health.”

Fundraising for the VEROTM kicked off at the BC Cancer Foundation’s Hope Couture event in September, raising $1.5 million and thanks to the generosity of many over the past few months, radiation therapy research and treatment will expand to benefit those with traditionally difficult- to- treat cancers.

Each year many British Columbians are diagnosed with cancers that are difficult to treat such as lung, liver, pancreas, kidney and brain cancers.

The VEROTM machine is the most technologically advanced linear accelerator-based radiotherapy delivery system available today. This machine is truly innovative with its ability to track the movement of a tumour in real-time and its precisely contoured beams, which allow the delivery of radiation to tumours that have not previously been targetable through radiation therapy.

Dr. Ross Halperin, Interim Vice-President ,  Radiation Oncology and Functional Imaging  at the BC Cancer Agency, said, “The VERO is an exciting treatment technology that  will open the door to research new treatment options for patients with brain, liver, pancreas, kidney and lung cancers. These cancers combined represent the most common causes of cancer death worldwide and are among the most difficult to target and treat.”

“We have an opportunity to change the standard of care by adding the VERO to our line-up of treatment options,” Dr. Halperin added. The treatment technology will enable the building of a clinical research program, acquiring knowledge from evidence-based practice that can be shared worldwide.