Nfld. & Labrador

Lawyer and businessman Robert Regular donates $1M for new chemotherapy unit

Fundraising for a new chemotherapy unit at the Dr. H. Bliss Murphy Cancer Centre has exceeded its goal after a $1-million donation from Conception Bay South lawyer and businessman Robert Regular. 

Fundraising campaign exceeds its $5M goal

Lawyer and businessman Robert Regular has donated $1 million toward a new chemotherapy unit in the province. In the past four years, his two nieces, brother and sister have been diagnosed with cancer. (CBC)

Fundraising for a new chemotherapy unit at the Dr. H. Bliss Murphy Cancer Centre has exceeded its goal after a $1-million donation from Conception Bay South lawyer and businessman Robert Regular. 

For Regular, the donation is personal.

In the past four years, he's had two nieces diagnosed with breast cancer, a brother diagnosed with prostate cancer and a sister with multiple myeloma. 

Last year, his business partner and friend of 30 years died of stomach cancer, which Regular said affected him greatly. 

"Very, very personal," said Regular. 

Regular calls cancer a pandemic — something he sees in his daily work as a lawyer writing wills, powers of attorney, and health-care directives.

"You're reminded every single day of how significant the impact cancer is having on the Newfoundland population," said Regular.

Kelley Button, left, and Lori Power Connors were both diagnosed with breast cancer in their 40s. They kept each other company during long hours waiting for treatment, blood work, mammograms and surgery at the cancer center. (Gary Locke/CBC)

According to the Canadian Cancer Society, one in two people in the country will be diagnosed with cancer, and the rates of the disease are the highest in Newfoundland and Labrador. 

Karl Smith is the chair of In This Together, a fundraising campaign for the new chemotherapy unit.

Smith said they were hoping to raise $5 million, but Regular's donation has put them over the top. They now have $6.5 million for a new unit.

"We're very, very happy and gratified to announce a major, major contribution to finish off the campaign," said Smith at the Garden of Hope, in the Dr. H. Bliss Murphy Cancer Centre.

A place to be comfortable

Kelley Button and Lori Power Connors know the cancer centre all too well.

The women formed a deep bond there while being treated for breast cancer five years ago. They spent hours together waiting for their treatments, surgeries, and mammograms.

"The first time coming here, it's quite scary, but after that I found a place of comfort, it was a place where I knew I was going to be taken care of," said Button.

Regular was worried the fundraising had slowed down, and he wanted to make sure the cancer centre was comfortable for patients.

"They have to be here for long periods of time, some of them in significant misery, and having a place to be comfortable while they're waiting, in particular, was something that was very important to me," he said.

"I've heard that so many times from my relatives, and that influenced me toward the chemotherapy unit."

Bursting at the seams

Smith said at 10,000 square feet the new unit will be larger, brighter and cheerier. 

"The size is increasing by three times, but I think the quality is increasing by about a hundred times," he said.

Smith said a new facility is long overdue, and it will give patients, their families and doctors more privacy, and there will be more space for staff and an in-house pharmacy.

"It will be great. It will be much more efficient with the in-house pharmacy, especially," said Power Connors, who also worked as a pharmacist preparing chemotherapy drugs.

"That's going to make a big difference."

Karl Smith is the chair of the In This Together fundraising campaign, which has now raised $6.5 million for a new chemotherapy unit. (Gary Locke/CBC)

Smith said the new unit will bring the centre up to modern day standards — something that will be much needed as researchers don't see a slowdown in sight for the province's cancer rates.

"The current unit is probably the oldest one in the country," he said. "We're literally bursting at the seams." 

"Every little modicum of extra care that we can provide through a new facility is going to make a difference for the patients, [and] for their families as well."

"This is going to be wonderful for the families to be able to support their loved ones," said Power Connors.

Smith said they expect to release the first tender for the new facility this summer and construction should finish by the end of next year.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Carolyn Stokes


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