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It’s Personal-Family, Cancer, and Treatment

Freda Cryer lay in her hospital bed, facing the most challenging moment of her life-surviving a bone marrow transplant to treat her acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Just hours after Freda’s transplant, her daughter, Alexandra Chen, was two blocks away buzzing off her long blonde locks of hair, surrounded by family and friends.

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Joning the Fight Against Cancer

Joning the Fight Against Cancer

Freda, described by her daughter as the epitome of strength, received her cancer diagnoses nearly one year ago, and since then has undergone three rounds of chemotherapy to try and treat this aggressive form of cancer.

“My mom’s leukemia diagnosis came out of nowhere. It was nothing that we were prepared for,” said Alexandra.

Faced with the emotional struggle of her mother’s cancer treatment, and after having just lost her 30-year-old brother-in-law to lung cancer, Alexandra felt a little helpless. “I knew I couldn’t change the situation that was handed to us. As I would rock my baby to sleep, my head would spin… I’d lost my brother-in-law, my mom is facing the biggest battle of her life… how can I help, how can I make a difference?

I realized that my mom was getting the care she was getting because of the role philanthropy plays in improving cancer care. What if this treatment wasn’t available? Where would my mom be now? I then knew that fundraising was the best thing I could do to help.”

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How Fundraising Can Help

How Fundraising Can Help

Dr. Aly Karsan from the BC Cancer Agency is currently leading a research project that is looking to improve the diagnosis and treatment of AML through a personalized medicine approach. Specifically, Dr. Karsan and his team are developing a fast, effective, low-cost test that will use genome sequencing to determine the most effective treatments for AML patients. The test would allow doctors to treat their patient’s AML according to the precise genomic make-up of their cancer.

“Every case is so different, every leukemia is so different. It’s research like this that kind of blows your mind. This is why we fundraise for the BC Cancer Foundation,” says Alexandra. Alexandra realizes wholeheartedly that, without research, we aren’t going to find better treatments or even cures. She fundraised in honour of her mom and brother-in-law. She shaved her head as a “WOW” factor to help increase donations. In a matter of only four weeks, she raised nearly $12,000.

“The philanthropic commitment of individuals like Alexandra is crucial in driving our research forward. These kinds of efforts by many individuals has the potential to revolutionize our approach to cancer diagnostics and therapy by taking into account the genetic changes that are unique to each patient’s cancer,” says Dr. Karsan.

This October, the BC Cancer Foundation‘s Inspiration Gala is dedicated to raising funds in support of Dr. Karsan’s personalized medicine project. The gala, chaired by Monika Deol, is poised to be one of Vancouver’s premier events, raising millions of dollars to advance personalized medicine in cancer care.