Those with a hand in fundraising for the future of cancer care in northwestern Ontario took a leap of faith with the start of a $5.9 million campaign Thursday in Thunder Bay. 

“Our goal is to help Regional Cancer Care become the best centre in the province,” said fundraising campaign chair, Paul Fitzpatrick.

Paul Fitzpatrick

Exceptional Cancer Care campaign chair Paul Fitzpatrick said $3 million has already been raised towards the $5.9 million goal. (Nicole Ireland/CBC)

“To do so requires a substantial investment by our community of $5.9 million in order to give patients the best chance possible to survive cancer. Already, thanks to philanthropic leaders across northwestern Ontario, we have raised $3 million towards our goal.”

The campaign — called Exceptional Cancer Care — will provide funding in three critical key areas of cancer care: diagnoses, treatment and research.

'In direct response' to patients' needs

Funds will support equipment purchases, such as a new CT simulator for radiation therapy planning and diagnosis, state-of-the-art linear accelerators for radiation therapy, IV pumps and chairs for superior chemotherapy services across the region, and a new cyclotron that will allow treatment providers to make their own radioactive medical imaging isotopes for diagnostic and research purposes.

The program director with Regional Cancer Care said the campaign was developed “in direct response to our patients’ needs.”

“They said, 'Find my cancer earlier, speed up the time it takes to diagnose my cancer, and make sure I have the absolute best quality of care available and access to innovative care,'” Joanne Lacourciere said.

shawn christie

Cancer patient Shawn Christie spoke up in support of the Exceptional Cancer Care fundraising campaign. "[I] put all my faith in this place," he said of Thunder Bay's Regional Cancer Centre. (Nicole Ireland/CBC)

Cancer patient Shawn Christie agreed.

“From the moment you hear the word cancer, everything is a blur and the journey that follows is tough,” he said. “Yet, I’m very grateful that I was able to have my treatments here at home. I actually called around to some other cancer centres and they told me that the care here is as good as anywhere in the world. You can’t imagine the peace of mind that gave me.”

Donations to the Exceptional Cancer Care Campaign can be made online at healthsciencesfoundation.ca/ECC, by phone at (807) 345-HOPE (4673), in person at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre or by mail at 980 Oliver Rd. Thunder Bay, ON P7B 6V4.