Historic fundraising campaign supports cancer care in Victoria

For Angus Matthews, cancer care went far beyond the radiation and chemotherapy that’s most often associated with cancer treatments.

Matthews was diagnosed with throat cancer two years ago. He was shocked to suddenly find himself among the one in two British Columbians that will face cancer in their lifetime.

“I never dreamt that I would ever encounter cancer. I didn’t smoke. I’m a very modest drinker. I lived a healthy life.”

While his radiation and chemotherapy treatments were effective against the cancer, they also greatly affected Matthews’ ability to eat. “I was at the point where I was going to be hospitalized, because I just could not eat. It was so, so difficult.”

He says it was BC Cancer – Victoria’s Nutrition team who got him through this challenging time. “It was beyond what to eat. They were a big part of saving my life.” Matthews also gives thanks to BC Cancer’s speech therapists who he credits as “making my throat work for me again.”

Nutrition and speech therapy are part of BC Cancer’s Supportive Care services – therapies that help patients and families prevent or manage the adverse side effects of cancer and its treatment – both physical and psychological. Other programs include Patient & Family Counselling, Hereditary Counselling and Medical Genetics.

The BC Cancer Foundation recently launched a historic $15-million fundraising campaign that will fully fund the purchase and renovation of 2340 Richmond Rd. The 12,000-square-foot building will provide a significant expansion to BC Cancer – Victoria’s campus and house many of the centre’s Supportive Care programs. The new space will greatly enhance the quality of care received by local patients, like Matthews, who rely on these life-saving programs throughout their cancer journey.

The standalone building is particularly important as returning to the site of treatment can be triggering for patients and there is a tremendous benefit to accessing Supportive Care in a separate location.

“We categorize cancer under all these different headings and types of cancer, but every cancer is your own cancer. It’s your own personal experience,” says Matthews. “The supportive programs to be located in the new building were essential to my care, and I know they will help many others.”

Matthews hopes sharing his story will help bring awareness to this vital part of cancer care that is not only important for the quality of life of patients, but for their survivorship as well.

The campaign is already receiving strong support from the community, including a $2.5-million gift from Ernie and Yvonne Yakimovich and $500,000 from the campaign’s Honourary Co-Chairs Lynda and Murray Farmer.

To learn more about supporting the campaign visit: bccancerfoundation.com/vancouver-island

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