Sudbury

'We have come a long way': Construction for Sudbury's PET scan suite begins

Sudbury's long-awaited PET Scanner should be up and running next summer. Construction on a new extension to house the machine has finally begun at Health Sciences North.

Patients in northern Ontario expected to be spared over 477,000 km in health travel

Cheryl Bruno is the widow of the late Sam Bruno, who began raising awareness and funds for a PET scanner in Sudbury before he died of cancer in 2010. (Benjamin Aubé/CBC)

Sudbury's long-awaited PET Scanner should be up and running next summer. Construction on a new extension to house the machine has begun at Health Sciences North.

Among those on hand at a ceremony Wednesday marking the occasion were family members of the late Sam Bruno, a Sudbury resident who began raising awareness and funds for a PET scan machine before he died of cancer in 2010.

A foundation in his name helped raise $3.8 million to make the nearly $9 million project come true.

"We have come a long way," said Bruno's widow, Cheryl, who is also a member of the foundation's steering committee.

Numerous people, from doctors to politicians to members of the late Sam Bruno's family were on a hand for a ceremony marking the beginning of construction of a new PET scanner suite at Health Sciences North on Wednesday. (Benjamin Aubé/CBC)

"We are all excited, so happy. Sam's mom is with us today and she's very, very happy and proud of her son for doing this. We are just so thankful to the community, to the businesses. There are just so many people to thank."

Tannys Laughren, the executive director of the Northern Cancer Foundation, and Brenda Tessaro of the Sam Bruno PET steering committee, offered special thanks to current Nickel Belt MPP France Gélinas and former Sudbury MPP Glenn Thibeault for repeatedly bringing up the issue at Queen's Park over the years.

Rosina Bruno, the mother of the late Sam Bruno, received a nice ovation at Wednesday's ceremony at Health Sciences North. (Benjamin Aubé/CBC)

Ontario's Ministry of Long-Term Health and Care contributed $4.6 million for the realization of the project.

The province has also announced a commitment of $1.6 million in annual operational funding for the scan suite.

It's estimated the PET scanner will save northern Ontario patients over 477,000 kilometres in health travel each year.

"People will not have to travel anywhere to get [a scan]," said Cheryl. "Northeastern Ontario is covered. No more travelling to Toronto, as Sam did. That was very hard on him."

Dr. Tom Carr is Chief of Nuclear Medicine at Health Sciences North.

"A PET scanner is one of the most useful tools in oncology so having it here is going to make a difference for patients and families," said Carr.

Dr. Tom Carr, Chief of Nuclear Medicine at Health Sciences North, stands in front of a representation of Sudbury's future PET scan suite, which is expected to be operational in the summer of 2019.

"The main benefits for [cancer] patients is a more comprehensive look at the state of their disease," he explained.

"We know that in about 30 per cent of patients, there will be a change in management of their cancer based on the results of a PET scan, so that's a big number. The other two-thirds, we'll be able to tell whether there's more disease, or less disease."

Construction is expected to last about nine months.

The first patient scan should take place next summer, according to the hospital.

About the Author

Benjamin Aubé is a journalist based out of Sudbury. If you have a story you'd like to share, email him at benjamin.aube@cbc.ca

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