Starting a family
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Supports and services
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One young man’s
journey from
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poverty and beyond
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Rockies; Weaving
as Therapy;
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own life-changing investment, at
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fall 2014 3
FALL 2014 • VOL 5 • No. 3 CONTENTS
Nurse navigators are like a compass to help
guide patients through cancer
Marie Butler weaves community and
hope together with art therapy
Hiking’s all about reaching great peaks –
both physically and mentally
Homage to legendary
country crooners pays
off for husband-and-wife
Jamboree hosts
U of A professor Ing Swie Goping’s research
could change the way we treat breast cancer
A message from the Alberta Cancer Foundation
New tanning rules floated; HPV vaccine for boys;
Fall festivals; Cleaning for a cause; and more
One student’s focus on leukemia treatment
could lead to fewer side effects
An introduction to patient engagement
Debunking nutrition myths
Nutrition through cancer treatment;
Young adults and late adolescent cancer
survivors face an array of challenges
Couple who met as children in Hong Kong is
poised to leave a life-saving legacy
Rangeland Engineering gives back in honour
of CEO’s son
Oncology nurse hits the high seas for clinical trials
COVER STORY: Wilson Raposo has a new outlook
on life, post cancer diagnosis and treatment
For young adults, cancer brings a new
world of financial difficulty
Are our young adults falling through the
cracks for medical and psychological
cancer resources?
A cancer diagnosis can derail a young
couple’s wishes to start a family
Al ber ta Cancer Foundati on
Check out some of these returns for yourself, and make your
own life-changing investment, at
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4 fall 2014
Angela Boehm, Chair
Gary Bugeaud
Heather Culbert
Steven Dyck
Paul Grundy
Edmonton (ex-officio)
Don Lowry
Katie McLean
John J. McDonald
Andrea McManus
Brent Saik, Vice Chair
Sherwood Park
Sandy Slator
Greg Tisdale
Vern Yu, Vice Chair
myl eapmagazi ne. ca

Some things are constant for us each summer at the Alberta Cancer
Foundation. Every weekend, hundreds, if not thousands, of Albertans
take part in a variety of fundraising events across the province – Mud
Hero, Joe’s Team Triathlon and the Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer to
name a few.
In this issue you’ll read about a clinical trials nurse at the Tom Baker
Cancer Centre who took her event to the high seas, racing around the
world while raising critical research funds for the patients she treats
(page 50).
Another constant is the work we do to prepare our annual report. Every
summer, we look back at our year and the progress we have made in can-
cer research, treatment and care in Alberta. We are proud of what we’ve
accomplished but we know there is more – much more – to do.
Yes, we are a registered charity. But we think of ourselves as
much more t han t hat . As you’ l l read i n our annual repor t
(, and throughout this magazine, we act
more like an investment manager, which means we must deliver the
returns people expect for their money. And that’s why we invest in things
that provide the most important return of all: healthy Albertans.
We also know many of you have lost loved ones and we want to push
for faster progress so others don’t have to go through
the same journey. We want to celebrate more family and
friends returning to their lives, their families and work.
We make sure your investments are focused on
improving patient outcomes. For instance, in this issue
of Leap, you will read about the difference that patient
navigators are making across the province (page 32).
Our investment into this program has placed navigators at the 15 com-
munity cancer centres across the province, assisting more than 5,000
patients so far. These invaluable nurses provide much-needed support
during key points of the cancer journey.
You’ll also read about our “research rockstar,” Dr. Ing Swie Goping,
whose work could change the way we treat breast cancer (page 47). She
gained worldwide attention in the field when she discovered a protein in
breast tumours that could predict whether a certain kind of chemother-
apy will work or not. This level of personalized medicine would allow cli-
nicians to tailor therapies to individual patients, improving their treat-
ment success. This type of investment closes the gap, faster, so Alberta
becomes the least frightening place in Canada to get cancer. We hope
you enjoy reading about these investments we make on behalf of
our donors.
We also want to know what you think of Leap magazine. Your feedback
is important to us and, just as we do with our donations, we want to make
sure we deliver content that matters. Please take five minutes to visit
Thank you.
Myka Osinchuk, CEO Angela Boehm, Chair
Alberta Cancer Foundation Alberta Cancer Foundation
Investing in Albertans
We are proud of what we’ve
accomplished but we know
there is more – much more –
to do.
Leap_Fall14_p04-05.indd 4 2014-08-18 8:19 AM
fall 2014 5
Donate today at
FALL 2014 VOL 5 • No. 3
Al ber ta Cancer Foundati on
Suite 300, 1620 - 29 Street NW
Calgary, Alberta T2N 4L7
710, 10123 - 99 Street NW
Edmonton, Alberta T5J 3H1
Toll-free: 1-866-412-4222
Tel: 780-643-4400
CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Colleen Biondi, Pat Fream,
Janine Giese-Davis, Wendy Glauser, Lucy Haines, Elizabeth Hames,
Mike Lang, Sue LeBreton, Noémi LoPinto, Allison Myggland,
Christy Nich, Karol Sekulic, Séamus Smyth
Cooper + O’Hara, Buffy Goodman, Jeff Noon, Kelly Redinger,
Amy Senecal, Curtis Trent, Romy Young Photography
The Alberta Cancer Foundation is Alberta’s own, established to advance
cancer research, prevention and care and serve as the charitable
foundation for the Cross Cancer Institute, Tom Baker Cancer Centre
and Alberta’s 15 other cancer centres. At the Alberta Cancer Foundation,
we act on the knowledge that a cancer-free future is achievable.
When we get there depends on the focus and energy we put to it today.
Leap is published for the Alberta Cancer Foundation by
Venture Publishing Inc., 10259-105 Street, Edmonton, AB T5J 1E3
Tel: 780-990-0839, Fax: 780-425-4921, Toll-free: 1-866-227-4276
The information in this publication is not meant to be a substitute for professional
medical advice. Always seek advice from your physician or other qualified health
provider regarding any medical condition or treatment.
Printed in Canada by Transcontinental LGM.
Leap is printed on Forest Stewardship Council ® certified paper
Publications Agreement #40020055
ISSN #1923-6131
Content may not be reprinted or reproduced without permission from Alberta Cancer Foundation.
Investing in Albertans
Leap_Fall14_p04-05.indd 5 2014-08-19 1:06 PM
myl eapmagazi ne. ca 6 fall 2014
Starting this fall, immunization programs
across the province will begin administering the
human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine to boys in
Grade 5, with a catch-up program also being admin-
istered in Grade 9. While the province has been
administering the vaccine to girls since 2008, this is
the first year that boys will be included as part of the
immunization program.
Alberta Health Services (AHS) says that making
the choice to administer the immunization to boys
will save lives and reduce future health-care costs in
Alberta. In particular, they note that the program is
expected to prevent more than 400 cases of head
and neck cancer in Alberta men, and they project a
costs savings of $13.4 million over the long term.
HPV is a very common infection, spread through
sexual contact, of which certain types contribute to
almost all cases of cervical cancer. A recent study
out of Alberta showed that 100 per cent of head and
neck cancers in men under 40 were related to HPV.
The vaccine for boys is the same one that’s also
given to girls, and it’s most effective when given
Administering the HPV vaccine to boys
begins across the province His Best Shot
Nothing could keep Debra Cantalini-Gallant
from organizing the annual fundraiser golf tour-
nament she loved. Born and raised in Medicine
Hat, she organized the first golf tournament in her
name, the Debra Cantalini-Gallant Breast Cancer
Golf Classic, in 1997.
In 1995, Cantalini-Gallant had been diagnosed
with breast cancer, and she underwent chemo-
therapy and cancer treatment at the Medicine Hat
Cancer Centre. The tournament became a suc-
cess, providing Cantalini-Gallant with satisfaction,
knowing that she could “put something back to a
place that treated me so well.”
Over the next 12 years she raised more than
$230,000 for the Medicine Hat Cancer Centre. But
in 2008, a serious kitchen fire almost took her life.
Even while recovering from the painful accident,
she was insistent that the tournament take place,
working hard with her husband to organize it. Over
the tournament’s 16-year history, Cantalini-
Gallant raised more than $400,000 for cancer
research through the event.
Cantalini-Gallant died in March 2013, but her golf tournament and legacy
of generosity and selflessness lives on. This year the tournament raised
close to $50,000, an event record. To support the event and keep it running,
a number of the city’s local businesses, including Royal LePage Canada and
the Medicine Hat Golf and Country Club, stepped in. The money raised will
support the Margery E. Yuill Cancer Centre in Medicine Hat.
before any sexual activity has begun. Boys and girls are given the vaccine only
when consent has been provided, and offering the vaccine in a school-based set-
ting ensures that all students in the age group are offered the opportunity.
Fore a Great Cause
Debra Cantalini-Gallant’s namesake golf tournament goes on in Medicine Hat

Leap_Fall14_p06-11.indd 6 2014-08-18 8:17 AM
Al ber ta Cancer Foundati on fall 2014 7
Your Fest Foot Forward
They don’t call Edmonton “Festival City” for nothing. Get in touch with your inner film critic
for nine days this fall at the Edmonton International Film Festival (EIFF). It’s a cinematic
feast of the best new indie filmmaking from around the globe, held right in the province’s
capital. The schedule includes 55 feature-length slots, and 110 short films programmed
into feature-length packages. For more information, participating films, and ticket
information visit

SEPTEMBER 19-21, 2014
Immerse yourself in one of North America’s most spectacular national parks during
the Waterton Wildlife Weekend. Participate in one of 30 hikes, talks or workshops with
naturalists to learn about the wildlife in the park, which spans 250 species of birds,
more than 60 species of mammals, 24 species of fish, 10 species of reptiles and
amphibians and thousands of invertebrates. You can also take a hike with a renowned
naturalist such as bear expert Charlie Russell, or learn to take stunning wildlife
photos. To download the full program of activities and register in advance, go to
OCTOBER 17-26, 2014
Things are looking up for this year’s Jasper Dark Sky Festival, thanks to a special appearance
from everybody’s favourite astronaut, Col. Chris Hadfield. From stargazing to guest
speakers (including Hadfield) and musical guests, the 10-day festival celebrates Jasper’s
status as Dark Sky Preserve, which was designated by the Royal Astronomical Society of
Canada in 2011. For a full list of events, information on travel packages and tickets, visit

OCTOBER 14-19, 2014
Word nerds and literary types rejoice – the 19th annual Wordfest runs from October 14-19,
2014, at various locations around Calgary, Banff and the Bow Valley. The festival features
upwards of 70 writers from the local, national and international stage at more than 65
separate events, including poetry and spoken word performances, current event panels,
publishing industry workshops, art installations, youth and multilingual programming,
in-school presentations and featured events with the biggest and brightest stars of the book
scene. Scribes on this year’s roster include Kenneth Oppel, Ruth Ohi, Genevieve Cote, Hugh
Brewster, Anna Dewdney and Marianne Dubuc and many more. For more information about
events and tickets, visit
NOVEMBER 1-9, 2014
Banff is internationally recognized as a mountain adventure base, so it stands to reason that
this event is set in the Rocky Mountain town, as people share the experience of peak
adventure via various art forms. Every fall, the Banff Centre gathers the world’s best in
mountain films, books and speakers with thousands of mountain and art enthusiasts. Past
festival guests include Sir Edmund Hillary (the first man to summit Mt. Everest), Jon
Krakauer, Aaron Ralston and Alex Lowe. This year will be no exception to the event’s
reputation for hosting star-studded talent. You’ll see Richard Fenton and Dave Sheppard
among hundreds of other people, mingling amidst the exhibits, art and at the Art and Craft
Sale. More details are at
Check out these autumn festivals around Alberta
Leap_Fall14_p06-11.indd 7 2014-08-19 1:14 PM
Thank you to every town, rider and volunteer for your incredible eforts at the 6th annual
Wild Pink Yonder! After 23 dusty days on the trail, you have helped us put the boots to
breast cancer and raise more than $550,000 for the Cross Cancer Institute.
Banning Burns
New law could prevent young Albertans from indoor tanning
A new proposed law would ban Albertans under
the age of 18 from using tanning beds. The new legis-
lation, announced this spring, would help protect youth
from skin cancer, and would put Alberta on par with
other provinces that have similar laws. Manitoba has a
law that requires teens to have parental consent for
using tanning beds, and Saskatchewan is the only prov-
ince with no legislation.
Researchers have noted for years that a preoccupa-
tion with tanned skin had become an unhealthy habit
that could lead to more skin cancers. Last year, a report
from Alberta Health Services (AHS) found that over a
quarter of Alberta’s youth had used a tanning bed at
least once in the past year. Their research has shown
that using a tanning bed more than 10 times can dou-
ble a person’s risk of developing melanoma, an aggres-
sive form of skin cancer that’s the most common can-
cer among young adults. For more information on the
dangers of tanning beds, visit
Leap_Fall14_p06-11.indd 8 2014-08-18 8:17 AM
Al ber ta Cancer Foundati on fall 2014 9
• 2 cups (500 mL) whole barley flour
• 2 Tbsp (30 mL) granulated sugar
• 1 Tbsp (15 mL) baking powder
• ¼ tsp (1 mL) salt
• 1 egg, beaten
• 3 Tbsp (45 mL) canola oil
• 2 cups (500 mL) milk
In a medium bowl, combine barley flour,
sugar, baking powder and salt. In a
smaller bowl, combine egg, oil and milk.
Stir liquid mixture into the flour mixture
just until combined. Ladle onto hot,
lightly greased griddle. When bubbles
appear and begin to break, flip over to
brown other side.
Finish with your favourite toppings.
Barley Pancakes
Makes 14 pancakes
Source: Go Barley: Modern Recipes for an Ancient Grain
In a bid to relieve families of mounting household stress and
duties, a Calgary cleaning company is offering free housekeeping ser-
vices once a month to cancer patients.
Marriage Savers, a cleaning company founded seven years ago by
Gloria Juarez, has partnered with Cleaning for a Reason, an international
not-for-profit that offers free cleaning services to cancer patients across
North America. Since Cleaning for a Reason began, it has helped more
than 1,000 local cleaning companies provide in excess of $3 million
worth of services.
Juarez jumped on board this winter, after hearing about the service
via social media. “I started reading the stories and knew it was a very
good idea,” she says, adding she wanted to give back to a community
that helped her build her own company after moving to Canada from
Argentina 11 years ago.
Marriage Savers offers four hours of cleaning each month, over a four
month stretch. Cleaning for a Reason only provides the service current-
ly to women undergoing cancer treatment, though Juarez says
Marriage Savers is considering extending its goodwill beyond that.
“It’s very helpful, for these patients. I have even received emails from
people who want to volunteer their time to clean,” says Juarez. “If you
know someone undergoing cancer treatment, encourage them to
apply. This is a service they really need when they go through chemo-
therapy and radiation.”
For more information, contact Cleaning for a Reason, who will put
you in touch with your local cleaning company that participates. Apply
Calgary cleaning company lifts housekeeping weight off of patient shoulders
Leap_Fall14_p06-11.indd 9 2014-08-21 7:06 AM
Turning Awareness to Action
Prostate Aware, a new fundraising event for the Alberta Cancer
Foundation, is branching out in a bid to raise awareness of the dis-
ease. This September, the month-long fundraiser is a new opportuni-
ty for men and women to come together to show they care about
prostate cancer research and care in the province. All money raised
stays in Alberta, to benefit families in the province facing cancer.
“Many fundraisers for prostate cancer research are primarily target-
ed at men,” says Nana Thaver, a development officer at the Alberta
Cancer Foundation. “Prostate Aware is different, and encourages
women to take part on behalf of the important men in their lives.”
Event participants receive a special button to wear, to encourage
dialogue and donations. As well, the event has paired with Good
Luck Sock, an Alberta-based company, which will outfit participants
in blue socks and donate a portion of the money they earn on the
sale of blue socks from their website to the Alberta Cancer
Foundation. Throughout the month of September, supporters can
show they care by tweeting and sharing photos of themselves going
blue using the hashtag #ShowYourPair.
New fundraising initiative aims to boost
awareness of prostate cancer in Alberta
Turning Awareness to Action
“The organizing committee is turning this awareness month
into action and creating a local alternative to support prostate
cancer research in Alberta – ensuring all funds raised stay here
in the province to benefit our fathers, brothers and loved ones,”
says Thaver.
Mark Fusco and Amanda Skwarok, both local business own-
ers and members of the organizing committee wanted to
create a local alternative to support prostate cancer research
that both women and men can be a part of.
Prostate Aware will support research such as that conducted
by Dr. John Lewis (whose work is mentioned on page 11).
For more details visit, or visit
@ProstateAwareAB on Twitter.
Leap_Fall14_p06-11.indd 10 2014-08-18 8:18 AM
Al ber ta Cancer Foundati on fall 2014 11
Douglas Brown was enthralled with Dr. John
Lewis’s experimental oncology lab at the University of
Alberta. “The research techniques they were using were
the ones we were told had just been developed,”
explains the 22-year-old, who recently completed his
fourth year of an undergraduate pharmacology degree.
The lab, which is working to develop innovative treat-
ment such as non-toxic chemotherapy, was “something
I wanted to be a part of,” he says.
Thanks to the Cathy Compton McNabb studentship,
a research grant awarded to an ambitious and talented
student researcher, Brown’s dream has come true.
Since May, he’s been working in Lewis’s lab, researching
a compound called VX-50, to see if it can more effec-
tively target a type of acute myeloid leukemia – one that
constitutes approximately 25-30 per cent of all cases of
the disease. Its trademark is a mutation in the FLT3 pro-
tein, which is found in the cancer cell.
There is already a drug being used experimentally
to target FLT3, but it casts a wide net, affecting many
proteins that are similar to FLT3 and causing harmful
side effects like swelling in the legs and frequent vom-
iting. Additionally, over time, the cancer cell adapts
and FLT3 can mutate again, so that it’s no longer vul-
nerable to the treatment. Brown is hoping VX-50 will
target FLT3 more effectively, without giving the cells a
chance to build resistance.
“Many chemotherapy drugs will just kill everything,”
explains Brown. “The growing research field in cancer
is to be more selective
with drugs, so we can
reduce the side effects.”
As researchers hone in
o n t h e p r o t e i n s ,
enzymes and receptors
specific to cancer cell
gr owt h, dr ugs a r e
becomi ng more and
more targeted.
Here’s how his experiment works: Brown fills a test
tube with leukemia cells that have a FLT3 mutation,
and then treats them with VX-50. So far, the com-
pound is effectively killing the FLT3-mutated cancer
cells. The next step for Brown is to test his compound
over time, to see if the cells develop a resistance to it.
The ability to bounce his ideas off Lewis and other
researchers in the lab has been a huge boon. “If you
have any problems, there’s always someone who has
some sort of solution so you don’t have to sift through
literature for three hours like you would in school,”
says Brown.
He knows that VX-50 will still have to go on to ani-
mal and human trials, meaning it would be at least
five to 10 years before the compound is prescribed to
patients – and that’s only if Brown’s continuing stud-
ies show it to be effective. But after having met Don
McNabb, whose family holds an annual golf tourna-
ment for cancer research in memory of his late wife,
Cathy, Brown is ready for the long, bumpy road of cancer research. “It was quite
incredible to meet people who have so much faith in me and my research,” he says.
“It’s an incentive to work harder, it keeps me going when you hit those dead ends, to
know that people are rooting for me.”
Describing Brown as a “brilliant kid,” McNabb says the studentship is a perfect
way to honour Cathy, who died from leukemia in 2009. “Other than [being] the most
fantastic person I’ve ever met, the love of my life and the kind of person that every-
one liked, she was an outstanding teacher,” he says, adding that Cathy taught stu-
dents from elementary school to college, focusing especially on children with
intellectual disabilities.
One student’s dedication to leukemia research
could lead to fewer treatment side effects
SOUND INVESTMENT: Don McNabb, right, says
he is thankful to have the studentship he enabled
in his late wife’s name in the capable hands of
pharmacology student Douglas Brown.
“Many chemotherapy drugs will just
kill everything. The growing research
field in cancer is to be more selective
with drugs, so we can reduce the side
effects,” says pharmacology student
and researcher Douglas Brown.
Next Gen

Leap_Fall14_p06-11.indd 11 2014-08-21 7:04 AM
What is patient engagement? We’re starting
a new column in Leap in which we will explore
patient engagement and the many forms that
it can take.
As a cancer patient who has benefited greatly
from approaching her treatment and care in a pro-
active, interactive way, Pattie Ghent has become a
strong advocate for patient engagement. She is one
of the many patients who have been able to move
beyond the initial shock of a clinical diagnosis and
forge forward with a collaborative health-care plan
that she helped create.
The days of a cancer diagnosis being delivered
with cool efficiency, followed quickly with a pre-
scriptive order of treatment, are coming to an end.
But just what does patient engagement look like?
Engagement means more than following a treat-
ment schedule and keeping appointments. Ghent
says it boils down to “trusting your instincts and
speaking your mind and not being told what to do as
the only option.”
As a patient, engagement begins with opening up
a dialogue between you, your treatment team and
your support system. Patient engagement operates
on the assumption that your opinion on your body
is valid and worth listening to, an idea that has been
validated for Ghent. Having a say over the course of
treatment “does help patients feel in control of their
life – it is their life. Their choices are their choices. And
they make a big difference [in their own care],” Ghent
says. But while the opportunities are there, it some-
times takes a bit of a push for patients to speak up.
The first steps to becoming engaged in treatment are
simple, and small, Ghent says.
She suggests patients come to their medical ap-
pointments with a list of questions, and even con-
sider bringing another person for support, whether
that’s a family member or someone else. As long as
a patient wants them in the room, they’re allowed to
be there. For the duration of the appointment, you
are the only thing on the agenda. So take advantage
of that time and get your questions, curiosities and
fears off of your chest, Ghent stresses. “The more
patients can be speaking to their needs, and the
more that they can be interacting with their doctors
and medical staff and explaining what they need, the better,” she says. “What
their choices are may be very different from what a doctor is suggesting.”
You may have noticed that meetings with your doctor have included more
opportunities for you to bring up questions. Health care in Alberta seems to
be moving toward a treatment model that encourages and supports patient
engagement. Research on the topic published by Patricia McCarley in 2009
revealed that patients who actively participated in the decisions behind their
course of treatment adhered to the treatment regimen better than those who
were simply informed about what would happen to them.
Engagement can also go beyond your relationship to the medical world. For
Ghent, a huge part of taking ownership of her health meant challenging the
post-treatment symptoms of “chemo fog” and fatigue by raising guide dogs and
sharing her experiences with others in the cancer community by accessing the
supports offered through Wellspring Calgary. (Ghent was previously featured in
Leap magazine in September 2013 for her work training future guide dogs.)
Engagement comes in many forms, and patients need to find the right mix
between balancing their own wishes and desires with the suggestions and
treatment regimen provided by the health team and living life the way they want to.
PET PROJECT: Pattie Ghent has found training
future guide dogs helpful in her cancer journey.
myl eapmagazi ne. ca 12 fall 2014
Get Involved
Engaging in your cancer treatment begins with
understanding the power of patient perspective

Leap_Fall14_p12-13.indd 12 2014-08-19 1:17 PM
changes they are making in their diets. Choosing gluten-free foods does not mean
you are choosing low-calorie food. For example, many gluten-free cakes, cookies
and snacks contain higher amounts of sugar and fat than the gluten-containing va-
riety. If you decide to eat gluten-free, it’s best to choose whole grains like millet,
buckwheat, quinoa, brown rice, amaranth or teff.
Most adults receive their nutrition information from
television and the Internet, and there’s a lot of myths
and misinformation out there. Adequate sleep, regu-
lar exercise and good nutrition habits go a long way in
managing your weight. Consumers should be aware of
dangerous “quick fixes” that make drastic promises.
MYTH 1: Supplements help burn fat and cause
weight loss.
Recent examples of this claim include the touting of
green coffee bean extract, garcinia cambogia extract
and raspberry ketone. Green coffee extract is mar-
keted as a fat loss supplement, and while there is
research showing it can help with blood flow and cir-
culation, there’s no strong evidence that it increases
fat loss. Garcinia cambogia is a small fruit that, when
studied in rats, showed it may help with fat loss, but this
was not evident in humans. Research into high doses
of raspberry ketones in animals showed some fat loss,
but the concentration required for humans is unrealis-
tic for an oral supplement.
MYTH 2: Cleanses detoxify the body.
You probably know someone who has tried cleans-
ing. But the word “cleanse” doesn’t mean anything
in relation to healthy eating. The liver, kidneys and
colon naturally remove waste in our bodies. Some
cleanses involve juice fasts (drinking only juice for
days), and can be dangerous for people with health
conditions such as diabetes or kidney disease. Herb-
al cleansing kits may include herbs with purported,
but not proven, detoxifying effects. To help your body
naturally cleanse itself, drink enough fluids, aim-
ing for nine to 12 cups (around three litres) per day.
MYTH 3: Eating a gluten-free diet will help you lose
Grains like wheat, rye and barley contain a protein
called gluten. Only about one per cent of the Canadian
population has a condition called celiac disease, and
cannot eat gluten because it causes damage to their in-
testines. For those without celiac disease, a gluten-free
diet is not a guaranteed or proven method for losing
weight. Though some people may lose weight on
a gluten-free diet, that’s mostly due to overall
Karol Sekulic is a registered dietitian with Alberta Health Services who has expertise and interest
in the areas of weight management and nutrition communications.
Ask yourself these questions when considering nutrition claims:
• What type of research was done? Are there human studies using this product?
• How much does it cost? If there is no proof that it works, is it worth spending
the money on? Is there any fine print?
• Is the supplement being promoted by a celebrity or sports figure? Remember
that they are highly paid to promote various products.
• Is there an emotional cost associated with the product, like time, stress and
energy? Trying an unproven supplement can be a big disappointment, and could
make you to feel like a failure when it really isn’t your fault.
PET PROJECT: Pattie Ghent has found training
future guide dogs helpful in her cancer journey.
Al ber ta Cancer Foundati on fall 2014 13
Consumer Beware
From quick fixes to week-long cleanses,
don’t let nutrition myths fool you
Smart Eats

Leap_Fall14_p12-13.indd 13 2014-08-18 8:13 AM
myl eapmagazi ne. ca 14 fall 2014
“No matter what your weight, it is never a good
idea to lose weight during cancer treatments,” says
Kallee Marshall, clinical dietitian in Nutrition
and Food Services at the Central Alberta
Cancer Centre. “When you lose weight
during treatment, you also lose mus-
cle. Losing muscle will make it harder
to do your regular activities, and to
lose weight after treatment.”
Marshall adds that during radiation
and chemotherapy, a patient’s body
requires extra energy and protein to
maintain appropriate weight and muscle
mass. “You may be struggling with a lack of appetite,
nausea, taste changes and fatigue that make it harder to
eat,” she says. “But even though you may feel like you
have no desire to eat, your body needs the extra energy
and protein to fight infections, keep you strong and
recover from treatment. Treat food as the medication
that will give you the strength and energy to be able to
do your regular activities.”
Marshall also advises that, although weight loss
should not be the goal, patients undergoing cancer
treatments can still keep moving with light activity.
She suggests taking walks with a friend as a great way
“to keep spirits high, lower your stress and reduce
fatigue while maintaining your muscle mass.”
If you are looking to lose weight after treatment,
Marshall suggests first checking with your family doc-
tor. If it is suitable for you to get started on a plan, she
advises then getting a doctor’s referral to a dietitian, to
help achieve weight loss in a healthy manner – and
maintain it for the long term.
Is it a good idea to shed
my extra weight while
undergoing cancer treatment?
Ask our experts questions about
general health, cancer prevention
and treatment. Please submit them via
email to
Remember, this advice is never a
substitute for talking directly to your
family doctor.
We took your questions on lymphedema and weight loss
during cancer treatment to health and nutritional experts BY SHELLEY WILLIAMSON
Ask the Expert

Lymphedema is swelling that often occurs after cancer treatment. Susan
Bocchinfuso, a physical therapist and owner of the private practice Oncology
Rehab, explains that the lymphatic system is responsible for keeping people
healthy. “It produces white blood cells that help fight disease and regulates fluid
levels in your body,” she notes. “When the lymphatic system is injured from can-
cer treatment, it does not work as efficiently, and fluid can accumulate.”
Bocchinfuso says lymphedema most commonly occurs in the arm or leg,
and that while surgery and radiation therapy are effective treatments for cancer,
they are also the most common causes of injury to the lymphatic system.
“During surgery, lymphatic vessels and nodes are commonly removed. If the
remaining lymph nodes and lymph vessels can’t compensate for those that
have been removed, lymphedema can result,” she says.
The lymph nodes and vessels can become scarred and inflamed as a result
of radiation, thereby restricting flow of lymph fluid. If your arm or leg remains
swollen after cancer treatment, or your affected leg feels heavy or achy, you
might have lymphedema, says Bocchinfuso. It is important to speak with your
doctor if this is the case, so he or she can rule out any other causes of swelling.
There’s no cure for lymphedema, but it can be controlled, says Bocchinfuso,
who recommends exercise, specialized massage techniques and use of com-
pression garments to manage lymphedema. “These three treatments work
together in helping lymphatic fluid flow out of the affected limb to healthy
lymph nodes elsewhere in your body, where it can drain,” she says. “Your doctor
can refer you for guidance in managing lymphedema from physical and occu-
pational therapists that have special training in the area. If you do seek treat-
ment for lymphedema in the community, ensure it is with someone who is a
certified lymphedema therapist.”
I have developed lymphedema as a result of
my cancer treatment. What does this mean
and what can I do to relieve the discomfort?
Leap_Fall14_p14-15.indd 14 2014-08-18 8:11 AM
Thank you from The Alberta Cancer Foundation!
The 2014 Enbridge
Ride to Conquer Cancer
critical funds that will change the lives of cancer
patients and their families by investing in programs,
research and care that will find faster diagnoses,
better treatments and improved quality of life.
Don’t miss out – register now for 2015. Space is
limited and the Ride will close, so secure your spot
in history today.
Calgary June 6, 2015
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The Alberta Cancer Foundation’s Underwear Affair is an exciting adventure to uncover the
cure for below-the-waist cancers like prostate, colon and ovarian cancer. You can choose to
join our latest craze the Booty Hunt, a challenging scavenger quest through the city.
And if you want to keep it old school, we’re still offering our iconic 5K Walk and 10K
Run. There’s an adventure for anyone and everyone!
RUN/WALK/HUNT with the Alberta Cancer Foundation’s team or recruit one of your own!
Leap_Fall14_p14-15.indd 15 2014-08-18 8:11 AM
myl eapmagazi ne. ca 16 fall 2014
The standard definition of “young adult cancer
survivors” (AYAs) includes late adolescents (age
15-plus) up to 39-year-olds. Studies show that nearly
every phase of a young adult cancer patient’s journey
through the cancer system and beyond can be more
difficult than that of an older patient. Young people do
not expect to be diagnosed with a life-threatening
illness, and because diagnosis is rare in this age range,
doctors may not immediately order cancer tests. Many
AYAs experience advanced stages of the disease due
to a delay in diagnosis.
During treatment, AYAs may have greater financial
challenges due to less savings, job inflexibility and
decreased job security. They may also have important
family responsibilities, like caring for and supporting
small children, which can make managing treatment
schedules and side effects very difficult. Many AYAs
need to move back in with their parents, quit school
and put their careers on hold. This can cause them to
fall behind their peers, and the awkwardness of talk-
ing about their cancer can further exacerbate the
challenges of connecting with friends.
Following treatment, after-effects can disrupt
education, dating, marriage plans, family planning,
the ability to be self-supporting and delay progress
toward li fe goals. Accordi ng to our screen-
ing-for-distress survey results, AYAs struggle with
practical and psychosocial problems to a greater
degree. They report higher unmet survivorship
needs and higher distress than older patients.
Because of this, a dedicated group of professionals
has been meeting in Alberta to design a unique AYA
cancer program to meet the needs of young adults
across the province.
If you are a young adult living with cancer, there are
resources. Visit’s young adults’
page (
young-adults), YACC (, Survive
and Thrive Cancer Programs ( and
Wellspring ( for
ways to connect. The Alberta Cancer Foundation is
also moving forward to create opportunities for young
adults in Alberta. All of these efforts can reduce the
sense of isolation young adults often feel and
empower them to live well, despite cancer.
Cancer survivors from 15 to 39 face challenges
like no other age group with the disease
Beyond Cancer

Janine Giese-Davis recently had the opportunity to keynote the Young Adult
Cancer Canada (YACC) annual Survivor Conference, and tell her own cancer
survivorship story. When she was 22 and four months pregnant, Janine’s
23-year-old husband was diagnosed with a brain tumour. He died when he was
just 25 and their son was 18 months old, leaving her a widow and new mom. In
fact, Janine was on the front lines of support not only for her husband, but also
her father and uncle during her own young adulthood. These experiences
motivated her to become a clinician and a researcher, striving to ask the right
questions and provide the survivorship programming patients and families say
they want. Sometimes using a cancer experience to give back, like Janine did, is
one way to cope with such unexpected changes in life.
Mike Lang, who was diagnosed with cancer at 25 and has co-facilitated
CancerBridges’ education and website material, also used his experience with
Hodgkin’s Lymphoma to motivate himself and his wife. Together they created
“Survive and Thrive Cancer Programs,” that provide outdoor adventure pro-
grams, compelling educational films, workshops and a healthy living blog for
AYAs and their supporters.
Leap_Fall14_p16-17.indd 16 2014-08-18 8:10 AM
For young adults, cancer brings a new
world of financial difficulty
Are our young adults falling through the cracks
for medical and psychological cancer resources?
A cancer diagnosis can complicate a young
couple’s wishes to start a famil y
ore than 7,000 young adults are diagnosed with cancer in Canada
each year, and unlike other cancers, which are seeing better survival rates, those
for adolescents and young adults (AYAs) are virtually unchanged since the 1970s.
In this issue, we focus on cancer’s impact on young adults, from the financial implica-
tions, to personal relationships and fertility issues, to psychosocial implications of what
it means to be a cancer survivor in one’s teens, 20s and 30s.
Al berta Cancer Foundati on fall 2014 17
Leap_Fall14_p16-17.indd 17 2014-08-18 3:04 PM
myl eapmagazi ne. ca 18 fall 2014
YOUNG adults
NEW LEASE: After losing everything including his
savings and job following a cancer diagnosis, Wilson
Raposo has a vibrant career in the fashion industry
and a new, positive outlook.
Leap_Fall14_p18-21.indd 18 2014-08-18 8:09 AM
Al berta Cancer Foundati on fall 2014 19
For young adults, cancer brings
a new world of financial difficulty
hat started out as minor dental surgery to cure the pain in his upper
right palate would change Wilson Raposo’s life forever.
In early 2009, Raposo had jut moved to Calgary to work and was
about to buy a house in Chestermere. But the pain in his jaw was distracting, and
after being continually prescribed strong painkillers, his dentist was eventually
forced to lighten the pressure by drilling holes in the roof of his mouth during a
dental appointment. While in the dentist’s chair, he found a thumb-sized hole,
which led to Raposo being sent for a biopsy. That was sent to Edmonton and
Calgary for analysis, and when the results came back, it confirmed the worst. It
was cancer – squamous cell carcinoma. Two months of radiation and a surgery
that spring and summer followed. By October, it was time for him to heal.
The Cost
Leap_Fall14_p18-21.indd 19 2014-08-18 8:09 AM
He says his cancer treatment led to him shifting priorities from money
and “surface beauty” to valuing true friendship and humility. Raposo is one
of the many young survivors of cancer who goes unnoticed, and who strug-
gle silently with financial stress while sick. He is glad to be in remission,
but says, “You hear ‘cancer’, but you don’t know what a person has to go
through in order to make ends meet. It
ruins relationships, it ruins families, it
puts stress on everybody else.”
His employer accused him of hav-
ing prior knowledge of his illness, so he
was terminated from his job. He moved
into a new apartment, which he later shared with his girlfriend, who he tried
breaking up with to spare her the journey that he had to go through. He knew
he couldn’t turn to his parents, because he had seen how the recent death
of his grandmother had thrown his mother into complete shock. “I had
this mentality of ‘I’ll either do it on my own or die trying,’ ” he says. “I didn’t
want that negative energy around me.” He didn’t want his mom to give up
her job to take care of him, Raposo adds.
Virtually overnight, his standard of living changed. Raposo felt he was
reduced to begging strangers, rather than his family, for support, and
used the food bank. In fact, he worried when he was going to collect his
food that his clothing was too fancy. He sold his couches and the contents
of his once-flashy condo and got down to the bare essentials. It affected
his psyche and his social life. How was he supposed to date if he couldn’t
myl eapmagazi ne. ca 20 fall 2014
pay for the meal? Employment Insurance (EI) ran out quickly and his
CPP disability only paid part of his monthly expenses.
Throughout his treatment he took odd jobs. He would go through his
neighbourhood and surrounding communities asking if he could shovel
residents’ walks, or collect their cans and bottles, take away garbage, rake
their leaves and do other chores, with
the help of a little red card the Tom
Baker Cancer Clinic gave him to verify
his ugly truth.
“I would just explain that I’m a
cancer patient and I would show
them that I had no teeth and show them my scars and I would just say
‘government funding hasn’t provided me with enough to sustain my
livelihood, and I have no way of making money, so I’m knocking on
doors to see if you can help me out in exchange for services.’ ”
Lori Ray, a social worker at the Foothills Medical Centre’s bone
marrow transplant ward, says the youth demographic has its own
unique financial struggles in the face of cancer. If a person is lucky
enough to have a permanent job, then he or she may have coverage
from a company plan. If that is not the case, one has to rely on contribu-
tion-based Federal programs like EI, which pays 55 per cent of regular
wages. Canada Pension Plan disability benefits are for long-term cov-
erage, but have stringent rules, and usually take four months to process
before you can claim them. Certification from your physician is required
YOUNG adults
For younger patients, they want to
preserve their ability to have a family,
but often can’t afford it.
HAPPY RETURNS: Wilson Raposo,
seen here with his girlfriend Tara
Richmond, says having cancer and being
forced to do odd jobs to make ends meet
changed him for the better.
Leap_Fall14_p18-21.indd 20 2014-08-18 8:09 AM
Al berta Cancer Foundati on fall 2014 21
to say that your injury or illness is “severe and prolonged,” which means
you are expected to be off work for over a year, and you must have worked
four of the last six years to qualify. Most young adults have not been in the
work force long enough to collect this benefit.
Provincially, patients can apply for social assistance, which covers
basic living expenses and takes only a few days to receive once you’ve
proven that you are eligible and unable to support yourself. The Alber-
ta Works - Barriers to Full Employment program is also helpful to young
cancer patients and provides full medical coverage for prescriptions,
which can be quite costly.
Luckily for Raposo, he managed to find a home-based business soon
after his surgery and is now working as an executive clothier and tailor
full-time at LGFG Fashion House.
He enjoys sharing his story in his new line of work, for which he
feels fortunate, and he acknowledges how far he’s come. “I am a lot more
genuine than I used to be. I am in the beauty industry, but I just had my
face ripped apart. It humbles you.”
He lives in Okotoks with his girlfriend, Tara Richmond, and her
two daughters: Paris, age nine, and Lo, who is six, and life is back to
his “new normal.” “It’s created a humble mentality of attracting
certain kinds of people in my life, because now I know who my real
friends are – those who accept me for who I am rather than for what
I do or what I have to offer in that materialistic sense,” he says. “I am
comfortable in my own skin.”
The Alberta Cancer Foundation’s Patient Financial Assistance
Program helps ease the cancer journey for cancer patients and
families following a diagnosis. The program provides temporary
financial assistance to help pay for expenses related to cancer
diagnosis and treatment.
It is accessed via social workers in cancer centres across Al-
berta, and there is a list of set criteria to meet in order to receive
this funding, for which donors provide almost $800,000 a year.
Patients can apply for financial support for:
• Mortgage payments or rent
• Travel, accommodation and meal costs for those who live
elsewhere in the province, but need treatment in Edmonton or
• Costs for anti-nausea and pain-killing medications not covered
under drug plans
• Costs associated with several months’ stay in special hygienic
apartments for those receiving bone marrow transplants in
• Interim support for critical short-term needs, such as groceries
• Other critical needs as determined by social workers
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myl eapmagazi ne. ca 22 fall 2014
YOUNG adults
Leap_Fall14_p22-25.indd 22 2014-08-18 8:05 AM
im Buckland was a talented young athlete bound for university
when cancer hijacked his life.
“I was diagnosed with testicular cancer one week before my 18th
birthday,” says Buckland. “I was in excellent shape, playing junior
hockey and competitive golf. I couldn’t believe this was happening to me.”
Overnight the Edmonton youth went from invincible to vulnerable, from an
active teen with confidence to a frightened young adult with cancer. “I had sur-
gery two weeks after they found it and it went well, so I thought I was out of the
woods,” he says. “After that I didn’t want to think about it or talk about it. I basi-
cally wanted to pretend it didn’t happen and get on with my life.”
Medical and psychological cancer
resources for children and adults in
Alberta are exceptional, but are our
young adults falling through the cracks?
Al ber ta Cancer Foundati on fall 2014 23
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myl eapmagazi ne. ca 24 fall 2014
“The important thing about this age group is that it is
a time of significant and dynamic development across
all spectrums,” says McKillop. “Physically, they are still
growing and developing and their brains are still develop-
ing. From the psychosocial perspectives there are several
milestones that happen during the adolescent and young
adult timeframe: they are becoming autonomous, devel-
oping independence, finishing school, exploring voca-
tions. When a diagnosis of cancer happens, the impact is
felt across all of these spectrums.”
McKillop notes that the improvement in cancer sur-
vival rates among the
adolescent and young
adult age range (15 to
40) isn’t as high as it
is with the pediatric or
adult cancer groups.
This dismal reality,
she explains, is not a
new phenomenon – it
has been the subject of studies for more than two decades
and, though some improvement has been made, the issue
still exists today.
“The clinical trial enrolment rate for adolescents and
young adults is not as strong as the pediatric or adult
groups,” says McKillop, explaining that the limitation
is due in part to this age group being split up between
the pediatric and adult sites. The split may cause a gap
in supports and services, so the challenge is to find cre-
ative ways to diminish the disparity and improve the en-
rolment of these young adult patients.
And he did, for three years. Then, at 21, while pursuing a university degree in science,
active in sports again and involved in a serious relationship, he found another mass.
He found relief following a second surgery, but only for one month, before a CT scan
revealed more cancer. He then had a third surgery and four rounds of chemotherapy.
“It was devastating. My worst nightmare,” says Buckland. “This time I knew it was
a big deal – I couldn’t avoid talking about it. I was having some psychological effects,
anxiety and some cognitive issues that were interfering with my school. Still, it took
me a full year to actually start looking for support.”
Support, says Buckland, was not easy to come by. Many friends from his youth found
the topic foreign and uncomfortable. “They didn’t know how to react so most of them just
kind of disappeared – moved on with their lives,” he explains. Scanning the faces at the
Cross Cancer Institute, he rarely saw a person his age,
and while his girlfriend (who would eventually become
his wife) and his mom were there for him, he found it
difficult to share his feelings and was reluctant to over-
burden them.
Eventually, he found a group called Young Adults
Cancer Canada (YACC) and he was able to connect
and share his experiences with other young people bat-
tling cancer. The group – based out of Newfoundland –
offered retreats and conferences, and although he attended and found instant bonds with
other young people, he felt the void of a day to day peer support group.
“With cancer you just feel so isolated,” he says. “Feelings of isolation are prevalent at
any age, but when you’re young, peers are extremely important. You want to meet people
your own age – feel like you belong.”
Dr. Sarah McKillop is acutely aware of the harrowing plight and complex
issues facing young people living with cancer. A pediatric/adolescent/young adult
oncologist, McKillop is a champion of adolescent and young adult oncology, and
currently divides her time between the Stollery Children’s Hospital and the Cross
Cancer Institute.
“Feelings of isolation are prevalent at any
age, but when you’re young, peers are
extremely important. You want to meet
people your own age – feel like you belong,”
says cancer survivor, Tim Buckland.
YOUNG adults
ON PAR: Many young adult cancer survivors,
like Tim Buckland pictured above, have difficulty
finding supports because of their age bracket.
Leap_Fall14_p22-25.indd 24 2014-08-18 8:05 AM
Al ber ta Cancer Foundati on fall 2014 25
According to pediatric/adolescent/young
adult oncologist Dr. Sarah McKillop, while
there are effective medical and psychosocial
systems in place to care for cancer patients
in that age range in Alberta, they need to
be expanded to meet the needs of young
patients. Some of the challenges facing this
population include:
• Delay in diagnosis and treatment
• Issues surrounding clinical trial enrolment
• Challenges in getting young people to seek
medical attention and reach out for help
• Concerns regarding fertility
• Access to age-appropriate care
McKillop also acknowledges a need for an
improved system of support for survivors in Al-
berta, as the impact of cancer may continue as
these patients continue to grow and develop.
YACC/Localife -
Stupid Cancer Organization -
Livestrong Foundation -
Cancer Knowledge Network –
Cancer Fight Club -
Wellspring Calgary -
“We provide excellent care to all of our patients re-
gardless of their age or their type of cancer,” asserts
McKillop. “But we need to recognize that there are
unique needs in this population and the first step is to
identify these and then actively help and support them.”
Another factor impeding survival rates with this
population is that people often do not have a regular
physician during their young adult years. Also, general
practitioners may not suspect cancer or be familiar with
cancer symptoms in this age group. Both can result in a
delay in diagnosis and treatment.
“Many believe that young people aren’t supposed to
get cancer,” says McKillop. “If a young person has a lump
or pain somewhere, cancer is not an immediate consid-
eration. The first thought is maybe it’s a sports-related
injury, or something less serious. These sorts of delays
can contribute to poor survival.”
Furthermore, there are many distinct types of
cancers presenting specifically in this age bracket and
differences in treatment responses and in how patients
in the young adult spectrum tolerate treatment and
Overall McKillop is confident that increased aware-
ness will continue to drive formalized programs and
heightened systems and supports. “Nationally and in-
ternationally there are a variety of agendas being put
forward with principles, recommendations and guide-
lines for caring for this population,” she says. “There
have been some great strides in recognizing that there
are unique differences with these patients, so the next
step is a unified effort – a standard of care that effective-
ly addresses the unique needs of this age group.”
Raja Mita, director of program investments at the Al-
berta Cancer Foundation, concurs. He notes that a myr-
iad of patient groups, survivor groups and ground floor
forces of doctors and nurses are leading the charge to
help make a positive impact for adolescents and young adults with cancer in Alberta.
The Foundation has launched an initiative to try and shore up resources and generate
a collective push for effectual action against cancer in the younger population.
“Our goal is to align the strategic priorities of all the groups taking action so we can
create a stronger and more unified approach to the issues,” says Mita. “We’ve sched-
uled a mini-conference on the subject for this fall to help set priorities, outline guiding
principles and develop a framework that will hopefully see us all working together on
a focus to address the needs of our adolescent and young adult patients.”
Meanwhile, Buckland is now 28, back on course and hopeful. He says,
“I’ve been cancer-free for seven years and I’m feeling good; I’m even golfing again!”
Buckland adds that though it was a struggle adjusting to his new normal, he has
managed well, achieving a master’s degree in biochemistry, marrying his best friend
and landing a job he enjoys.
“You never really ever get over cancer. You’re always that guy who had cancer and
whether you get a bump or a nose bleed, you always worry that it might come back,” he
says. “But generally I’m in a pretty good place with it – I’ve come to accept that this is
my life now.”
Asked about supports and self-care as a survivor, he discusses his ongoing therapy
in the form of helping others. “I volunteer at the Cross Cancer Institute and do a lot
of fundraising and young adult advocacy,” he says, noting he also posts on the Cancer
Knowledge Network, where he is the young adult editor.
“I take care of myself emotionally by speaking publically about my journey. It’s very
cathartic to speak about it and reach out to others. It helps me a lot.”
MAKING STRIDES: Tim Buckland is now 28, cancer-
free and has begun to give back by volunteering at the
Cross Cancer Institute with young adults.
Leap_Fall14_p22-25.indd 25 2014-08-18 3:04 PM
myl eapmagazi ne. ca 26 fall 2014
YOUNG adults
Leap_Fall14_p26-29.indd 26 2014-08-18 8:04 AM
fter a young couple gets married, what often follows is planning to
have a baby. This is arguably one of the most exciting and positive times for
newlyweds. But if cancer is a dimension of this picture, these plans can go
awry, and that can take a toll on the strongest relationship.
Christy and Trevor Soholt of Edmonton know about this first-hand. Christy, now
the manager of stewardship at the Alberta Cancer Foundation, felt a lump in her left
breast when she was 28 years old (she is now 34). Although a mammogram didn’t de-
tect anything, the radiologist was concerned about a subsequent ultrasound. A biopsy
confirmed she had cancer and, after discussing treatment options with her surgeon,
Christy opted for a mastectomy. “I just wanted it out of there and to remove future
risk,” she says. She had successful surgery within a week; margins were clear and,
since the cancer was at its earliest stage, the prognosis was excellent. However, the
protocol still recommended four sessions of chemotherapy, which Christy took over
a four-month period. The treatment took a toll – she gained weight, was weak and
tired. “It took a long time before I started feeling like myself again,” she explains.
Though a cancer diagnosis can complicate
a young couple’s wishes to start a family,
sometimes there’s still a happy ending
Al ber ta Cancer Foundati on fall 2014 27
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myl eapmagazi ne. ca 28 fall 2014
of adversity. They pledged not to be one of those couples.
“We had to face this together. We had to get through it and
we had the same outlook. We were very positive.”
This healthy approach to cancer is music to the
ears of clinical health psychologist Guy Pelletier, who
works with cancer patients and their families in the de-
partment of Psychosocial Resources at the Tom Baker
Cancer Centre in Calgary. It is common for a cancer
diagnosis and treatment to impact all relationships
(friendships, dating duos, older married couples) but
there are unique factors associated with the relation-
ships of young adults. For example, young adults with
cancer may not be
able to engage in the
same level of activ-
ity as they once did,
leaving the partner or
spouse confused and
Surgery or treat-
ment which compromises body image as a result of
neck, face or breast cancers, for example, might be “par-
ticularly demanding” for young people, who are in the
“glory days” of their body image, while putting addi-
tional stress on the supporting party, says Pelletier. And
of course, as in the case of the Soholts, cancer survivors
can be uncertain about their future fertility after treat-
ment. This can be worrisome for a young couple who
wants to have children.
But even before she started chemotherapy and had surgery, that same surgeon deliv-
ered even more devastating news. He told the Soholts, who desperately wanted a family,
the treatment would make Christy sterile.
Within days, the couple got a more promising, second opinion at the Foothills Fertility
Clinic in Calgary. “The experts there were not as glum as the surgeon was,” says Christy.
They could try in vitro fertilization (IVF) and freeze embryos for future use or they could
“wait and see” if Christy’s body would retain its fertility. There were considerations re-
garding both choices. IVF was costly at approximately $10,000 per treatment (one treat-
ment includes three attempts at implantation) and the estrogen injections – needed to
boost egg production – might increase her chance of the cancer coming back. If early
menopause kicked in (which sometimes happens with chemotherapy), Christy would
not be able to have her own children. There were many uncertainties and no guarantees.
The couple decided against IVF and in favour of seeing if she could get pregnant, natural-
ly, down the road.
The Soholts were thrown by their reality – cancer,
surgery, follow-up treatment, the question about fer-
tility – but went right into coping mode. Christy gar-
nered support by talking frequently to Trevor and close
friends. She took a three-month medical leave from
work to manage the challenges of chemotherapy.
Christy, an independent and goal-oriented career
woman who took pride in her ability to provide for their household and herself, found
this role switch hard. It was also a financial hardship as, in addition to Christy’s unpaid
leave, Trevor simultaneously put his plumbing apprenticeship on hold to be available to
support her. Although Trevor does not typically talk about his feelings, he was encour-
aged by Christy’s openness and, in turn, shared some of his own fears and anxieties. Also,
her fierce autonomy and unwavering efforts to keep things “normal” made Trevor feel
more encouraged about their situation at the time, and their destiny.
Still, it was difficult. “We were young and had never faced anything like this before,”
says Christy. They were aware of people they knew whose relationships broke up because
“We had to face this together. We had
to get through it and we had the same
outlook. We were very positive,” says
cancer survivor Christy Soholt.
YOUNG adults
HAPPY FAMILY: Uncertainty about whether they
could conceive a child after Christy’s cancer diagnosis
led Trevor and Christy Soholt to adopt daughter
Payton, who is a healthy, happy two-year-old.
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Al ber ta Cancer Foundati on fall 2014 29
Christy and Trevor’s fertility and adoption story was initially featured in
the summer 2011 issue of Leap.
Wrapped around these practical features is the
overriding emotional stress of the diagnosis on the young
couple. Cancer is a “nasty surprise,” says Pelletier. “It is
completely out of the developmental norm and partic-
ularly unwelcome and difficult for young people.” But
there are effective ways to manage this stress and salvage,
or even strengthen relationships at this vulnerable time.
“Expect the depression, anxiety and anger to creep in,”
he says. But maintaining as positive an outlook as possible
and taking things one step at a time will keep these upset-
ting, but normal, emotions at a manageable level. Note
that if negative feelings are overwhelming, long-term or
debilitating, you might benefit from seeking out a mental
health professional or support group.
Pelletier advises talking to trusted friends and family
and letting these people help you out; you may even find
support in unexpected places. Be alert to some disap-
pointment if a close friend cannot commit to you. Such
behaviour is not about you, but about his or her fear of
cancer or mortality. Finally, self-care is key. Try to eat well,
get moderate exercise, good sleep and engage in social ac-
tivity, but don’t push yourself too hard. These practises will
heighten endorphins and moderate troubling sensations.
Because Christy and Trevor managed her cancer expe-
rience using these kinds of strategies, they were in a good
position to deal with what would become the next round
of life’s ups and downs. A look into international adoption
proved disappointing as Christy’s young age and health
history made the couple ineligible for consideration. “It felt like another door slam-
ming,” she says. They considered surrogacy, but ultimately contacted a local adoption
agency. After filling out the screening forms, doing the home study and waiting nearly
two years, they adopted baby Payton, who is a happy and healthy two-year-old.
Another wonderful surprise for the couple was when Christy’s menstrual periods
came back. But even this happy event was not without its difficulty. Although Christy
never lost hope that a biological child was a possibility for them (even after more than a
year of trying), Trevor was not so sure that was going to happen.
In fact, it took three pregnancy tests to convince Trevor that Christy was, indeed,
pregnant in June 2013. Sadly, the celebration was short-lived as she suffered a miscar-
riage just one week later and a second one that October. “We were heartbroken. For the
first time since the cancer diagnosis, I started doubting that it would happen for us,” she
says. Ironically it was then that Trevor felt more positive. Fertility was, in fact, present
and a viable pregnancy could happen. And it has: Christy and Trevor are expecting a baby
boy next month.
Life is turning around for this resilient couple after years of fear, heartache and disap-
pointment. “Because we have had to deal with real issues, everything else seems minor,”
says Christy. “We are doing really well now. Trevor is over the moon about the pregnancy
and I am thrilled to finally be in a place I’ve wanted for so long. We would not have been
able to get here without supporting each other and we now know we can get through
anything together.”
BABY MAKES FOUR: Christy and Trevor
Soholt are expecting their second child, a boy,
in October.
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myl eapmagazi ne. ca 30 fall 2014
Retired couple who met as children
in Hong Kong will leave a life-saving
legacy to fund cancer research
fter a lifetime together, Florence and
Peter Cheung are considering their legacy
after death. The Edmonton couple recent-
ly announced they will leave money to the
Alberta Cancer Foundation in their will, in the hope
their donation will help save lives. But Florence and
Peter don’t fit the profile of typical philanthropists.
They didn’t inherit mass amounts of wealth, or make
high earnings in business.
Peter, now retired, eked out a modest living as a me-
chanic, and Florence recently took early retirement
Planned Giving

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Al berta Cancer Foundati on fall 2014 31
“I want to leave a little bit of a legacy
to the Alberta Cancer Foundation so
they could get a researcher to come up
with a cure,” says Florence Cheung.
from her career as an early childhood educator.
They’ve lived frugally, not even affording them-
selves the modern conve-
niences of a computer or
cellphone. More than 10 per
cent of their overall budget
goes to charitable organiza-
tions, and Peter regularly do-
nates blood and platelets.
Despite their frugali-
ty, they’ve lived well, having spent most of their
years together. They met as children in Hong Kong.
When Peter was just a baby, his grandmother, Yuen
Kwan Heung, would look after him in the day, and
she would receive regular visits from teachers at
the boarding school where she and her husband
lived and worked.
“I must have been a very cute baby or something,”
says Peter. “The ladies in the school loved to cuddle me.” One of those ladies
was Florence’s mother, Mary Pang. Once Mary gave birth to Florence, her family
would come to Peter’s family farm for holidays. As toddlers, Peter and Florence
were fast friends. “We were like brother and sister because my mother was actual-
ly his godmother,” says Florence.
But as they grew older, Peter spent more time with Florence’s brother than
Florence herself.
“Boys and girls didn’t play together at that time,” he says. Eventually, in
1968, Peter moved to PEI for what he calls “a new beginning” in Canada. And
in 1975, he moved to Edmonton for work. “They were desperate for cooks in
Edmonton back then,” says Peter.
So he had no trouble finding a job as a cook, and later, an entry-level position at
a mechanic shop. The work was plentiful and Peter was occupied full-time with
getting his start in Canada and bringing his family over from Hong Kong.
When he, his parents and his sisters – who were living with him at the time –
received matching letters from Hong Kong one morning in 1979, he was in no
hurry to open them. He had to get to work. But his parents and sisters were cu-
rious. So they peeked at their letters. And when Peter got home from work, his
family was waiting for him. “My sisters were anxious the whole evening,” he
says. He couldn’t figure out why they were acting so strangely – until he went
through his mail.
The letter from Hong Kong was sent by Florence’s parents. It was a
marriage proposal. Peter was shocked. Why would Florence’s parents – whose
family was wealthier than his – want him to marry their daughter? “I’m a no-
body; I’m a grease monkey,” he thought.
But Florence wasn’t concerned about how much money Peter had. “What
matters for me is having a good husband who loves me and is willing to take
care of me,” she says. It was an unusual practice in Hong Kong at the time
for the woman’s family to propose marriage, especially when the couple in
question had never dated. But because he had grown up with Florence and he
knew her family well, he was confident they would be a good match.
So he wrote a letter accepting the proposal. Just over a year later, Florence
and Peter were saying their vows at a church in Edmonton. Florence had flown
to Canada just a few days earlier from Hong Kong, and she was still suffering
from jet lag. But that day, she didn’t show any signs of fatigue. “I was way too
happy,” she says.
But as with many couples, Florence and Peter were unable to have babies.
So Florence threw herself into her work as an educator, and found a job at a
daycare. She’d studied English in college in Hong Kong and taught for a few
years before coming to Canada. But she didn’t have the training she needed
to teach young children, so she went back to school to study early childhood
and development and graduated – with distinction – in 1995.
After more than two decades as an early childhood educator, she followed
Peter into retirement late last year so they could spend more time togeth-
er. Retirement has afforded Florence and Peter a lot of time to think about
what kind of legacy they want to
leave when they die. With no children
to inherit their estate, they decided
to leave almost all their money to
charity, including the Alberta Cancer
For Florence, the decision is per-
sonal. She has lost many family mem-
bers to cancer, including three uncles, her aunt and her grandmother. And she
wants to prevent other families from experiencing the same loss she did. “I
want to leave a little bit of a legacy to the Alberta Cancer Foundation so they
could get a researcher to come up with a cure,” she says.
Florence and Peter hope their experience proves that, if they can donate,
anyone can. “It is really important that we share our humble story,” she says
“Each donor has their own story to share and people will have their own reac-
tion to it. We would hope that they would be inspired to donate.”
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myl eapmagazi ne. ca 32 fall 2014
A BEACON: Shelley Burr is one of 15
nurse navigators in Alberta who help patients
plot their route through their cancer
diagnosis and treatment.
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Nurse navigators help guide patients through cancer
Al berta Cancer Foundati on fall 2014 33
helley Burr knows exactly what it feels like to receive a cancer
diagnosis, and not only because she has been an oncology nurse for most of
her career. Ten years ago she experienced shock, and then fear, when she was
diagnosed with the disease. Now she uses her experiences as a patient as a
foundation to her practice.
“My experiences have provided me with a greater understanding of the emotional
highs and lows that cancer patients and their caregivers’ experience,” she says.
Burr lives in Medicine Hat, a small city of just over 60,000 people, its surrounding
area dotted with small towns and farms. And while cancer does not care where you live,
research shows that rural Albertans face additional challenges when faced with the dis-
ease. Not only do they struggle with the emotional, financial and physical components
of their diagnosis and treatment, they also face additional
travel and financial burdens, plus having to wade through
bureaucratic culture shock when they get to the city. About
one-quarter of Albertans live in rural settings. While the
rest of the country becomes increasingly urbanized, rural
Alberta’s population is actually increasing, by an average
annual rate of 0.7 per cent.
“I understand what it is like to travel up to six hours to have a consultation with a phy-
sician or to travel for treatment,” says Burr. “It may be their first encounter with disease,
or even with the health-care system. They are often faced with a number of appointments
and tests and placed into a health care system that, while revolving around the patient,
is sometimes not all that user friendly. My job is to ask ‘How can we make this better for
you?’ and then seek ways to do just that.”
In 2012, the Alberta Cancer Foundation and Alberta Health Services took a giant
step towards addressing the additional burden rural Albertans must shoulder. They
began implementing the cancer patient navigator, or nurse navigator service. The pro-
vincial Cancer Patient Navigation program hired and trained registered nurses to help
patients though the challenges of health-care access, integration and coordination
of care. Working part-time, a small team of 15 navigators is currently helping smooth
Albertans’ cancer journeys by providing timely access to information, access to com-
munity support and services and assuring continuity and coordination of care with
experts in urban centers. Burr says a navigator helps
patients do something as simple as schedule an earli-
er mammogram, access home care or explain her new
diagnosis to her family.
One of those patients is Medicine Hat resident Jack
Sehn, who has had cancer four times, but only received
help from a patient navigator – Burr – during his most re-
cent diagnosis.
“When I was going through my cancer journey for my
colon cancer, lung and even my first liver cancer diagno-
sis, I had no one to turn to with my questions or concerns.
There was no one who you
could quickly call to help
with travel or treatment
concerns. You just did it
alone,” explains Sehn.
The help Burr has provid-
ed to him and his family has
been invaluable, and he calls her “a godsend.”
“She will find out everything I need to know, wheth-
er that is helping to arrange travel, schedules, or helping
with paperwork. She walks me through my diagnosis and
prognosis, and empowers me to make informed decisions.
I can’t imagine doing this without her now,” says Sehn.
In part due to an aging population, provincial estimates
currently project 50 per cent of men, and one in three
women, will develop cancer in their lifetimes, and one
in four Albertans will die from the disease. But as more
and more patients also survive their disease, managing
cancer becomes increasingly complex. Cancer is but one
term for hundreds of different diseases. Like people, no
two cancers are exactly alike. Individuals and individual
“My job is to ask, ‘How can we make
this better for you?’ and then seek ways
to do just that,” says nurse navigator
Shelley Burr.
A Healthcare
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myl eapmagazi ne. ca 34 fall 2014
cancers respond to treatment differently. It is also differ-
ent from any other disease in that it can develop at any
stage of life, in any organ of the body. While the oncolo-
gists are increasingly knowledgeable about some risk fac-
tors, such as obesity and smoking, the cause of many other
cancers remains unknown.
Age, socioeconomic status,
culture and health factors
add to the complexity of
the disease and the cure.
Key points in the journey,
like after the diagnosis but
before treatment, during
treatment but before re-
mission and post-treatment
can all have separate layers
of complex social or emo-
tional challenges that clinical staff do not have the time to
assist their patients with. They are focused on saving your
life, not your pocketbook or your spouse’s mental health.
“We know that there are certain key points of tran-
sition that are higher levels of needs,” says registered
nurse and PhD nursing graduate Linda Watson. “A nav-
igator helps at these key points. The first is at diagnosis.
At diagnosis, the navigator would make sure they have
the right info about their disease. The navigator can help
connect them with specialists, with financial resources,
help manage expectations and make sure they have the
right information before they begin treatment.”
Watson is fond of quoting U.S.-based Dr. Harold
Freeman, who spearheaded and developed the first
cancer patient navigation programs in New York in the
mid-1990s. He said: “No person with cancer should have to spend more time fighting
their way through the cancer care system than fighting their disease.” Watson’s entire
career has been focused on oncology. Her research degree looked at the experience
and complexities of families with cancer, which prepared her exceptionally well to
be the lead of the Person-Centred Care Integration Provincial Practices for Alberta
Health Services. She has been working on developing
and implementing a cancer patient navigation program
in Alberta for more than eight years.
“Having cancer is hard no matter where you live,” says
Watson, “This program is about making the journey as
seamless and as tolerable as it can be.”
Early evaluations of the program show positive
results: even a handful of nurse navigators working part-
time can make a huge difference in patient and family
satisfaction. Navigators can see the positive effect of
improved support, collaboration practice within the
care teams and system effectiveness.
Early reporting shows specialist team members also felt the difference, as they
reported feeling reassured by the navigator’s ability to follow up with their patients
before and after surgery, for example. Over the past two years, the province’s 15
nurse navigators, all working part time, have assisted more than 5,000 patients. In
Medicine Hat, Burr was able to work closely with a social worker colleague to identify
and resolve transportation obstacles to and from the local cancer centre. In the fall
of 2013, she and that same colleague also spearheaded a Cancer Patient Survivorship
Symposium that brought in specialists and patients to talk about their experiences,
something Burr described as a highlight in her career. Now Alberta Health Services
and the Alberta Cancer Foundation have partnered to ensure the program continues
for the next five years.
“It’s pretty amazing,” says Watson. “People go through their whole careers and
never get an opportunity to be a part of such a great program that makes such a big
difference. To know that the program I helped develop has helped thousands of
Albertans, that’s really cool.”
LIFE SAVER: Jack Sehn, a four-time cancer patient,
says having a nurse navigator brought a sense of ease
to him and his wife that was absent from his first three
diagnoses and rounds of treatment.
“When I was going through my cancer
journey for my colon cancer, lung and
even my first liver cancer diagnosis, I
had no one to turn to with my questions
or concerns. There was no one who you
could quickly call to help with travel
or treatment concerns. You just did it
alone,” says Jack Sehn.




Leap_Fall14_p32-35.indd 34 2014-08-18 3:02 PM
Ron Daye and his company, Rangeland Engineering,
are funding sarcoma research through a $1.5-million
fellowship in his son’s name
In 2012, Calgarian Cameron Daye was like many
young men in their mid-20s – athletic, musical, artistic,
focused on his career, and a family man looking forward
to marrying the love of his life. Then, in late July, Cameron
was diagnosed with spindle cell sarcoma, a deadly con-
nective tissue cancer characterized by tumours which be-
gin under the skin, between muscles and in surrounding
organs, which start as a small lump and grow with inflam-
mation. It is most prevalent in children and young adults.
He responded to the diagnosis by moving up his
wedding date to September 2, 2012, and a concerted
effort to make the most of the time left with his wife
and their two dogs, Bentley and Mickey. His wife,
Elizabeth, became focused on finding answers and hope.
“When he first got diagnosed, I felt desperate to do
something and didn’t know what that looked like,” says
Elizabeth Daye. “I started doing research into different
causes and contacted the Alberta Cancer Foundation.
That’s when I found out about Rob Pearson’s fund
for sarcoma research.”
Elizabeth encouraged Cameron’s father Ron Daye and
his company, Rangeland Engineering, to put some re-
sources behind sarcoma research. She even held a fund-
raiser, Naked in Solidarity, in September 2013, which
raised $14,000 for the Catherine M. Pearson Studentship
in Sarcoma Research. She shaved her head in support of
Cameron’s waning locks.
Ron gladly obliged Elizabeth’s request, topping up the
studentship with a $50,000 donation. But that was just
the beginning of Rangeland’s contributions to the Al-
berta Cancer Foundation benefiting sarcoma research.
They raised $33,000 at their Christmas party to create a
research allowance in Cameron’s name, attached to the
Catherine Pearson studentship. But they wanted to keep
the conversation going and do even more.
“We had meetings with Dr. Jan-Willem Henning and
Dr. Don Morris [at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre] to fig-
ure out what’s the best way to get funding directed toward
sarcoma, because you could see there was a shortage in
research and information,” explains Ron. “We thought
‘how do we improve on that?’ So, after several meetings
with them, we met with the Alberta Cancer Foundation
and put a fellowship together that would top out at $1.5
million over three years. The basic structure is we’ve
guaranteed to contribute $500,000 a year for three years,
but also we’ve agreed to fund a fellowship in addition to that, starting now.”
The latter became the Cameron C. Daye Cancer Research Clinical Fellowship, named
to honour Cameron, who died this past February 15 at 28, despite a spirited struggle with
his cancer and a period of remission in 2013. Even his oncologist, Henning, was so en-
couraged by his patient that he vowed to ride in Cameron’s name in the 2014 Enbridge
Ride to Conquer Cancer. Elizabeth and Ron were both so thankful that they joined the
Tom Baker Cancer Centre’s team in the fundraising 250-kilometre ride. Meanwhile,
Rangeland Engineering entered a team in the August 9-10 event, and this year marked
the first-annual golf tournament, hosted by Rangeland, in Cameron’s name.
In addition to the fellowship and studentship, Rangeland matched contributions
raised at an April “Pink Party” held at Belgo Brasserie in Calgary by Cameron’s friends,
to benefit his endowment with the Alberta Cancer Foundation. The event, which saw pa-
trons donning the title colour, raised $55,000.
Ron, like Elizabeth, is thrilled the funds raised in his son’s honour will go to the
cancer that so little is known about. “Unless there is a cure for sarcoma all of the
sudden, those funds will go to sarcoma research, clinical trials and even basic
research,” says Ron. “Our interest here is sarcoma. We have met a number of
sarcoma victims – and it’s brutal.”
Elizabeth is hopeful the money her father-in-law’s company and Cameron’s
friends and family have put toward sarcoma research will help others have a happi-
er outcome, and she’s thankful her husband’s name is connected. “Right now you hear
the word ‘sarcoma’ and basically if it’s not in stage one, it’s a death sentence. Cam
was lucky, he lasted much longer than was expected; he always said that was because
he wasn’t ready to leave me yet. It might be the one thing that allows someone to have
a different story.”
Corporate Giving

Al berta Cancer Foundati on fall 2014 35
SOUL MATES: Elizabeth Daye showed she was “Naked
in Solidarity” by shaving her head to match Cameron’s.
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myl eapmagazi ne. ca 36 fall 2014
The Power of
myl eapmagazi ne. ca
DREAM WEAVER: Expressive arts therapist Marie Butler, in front,
offers cancer patients an emotional outlet through activities like
music, painting, photography and, of course, weaving. Participants
from left to right: Ilene Kennedy, Julie Crawford, Jacquie Tomkow,
Kristi Sainchuk, Crystal Ewaschuk and Jennifer Jordan.
Top Job
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Al ber ta Cancer Foundati on fall 2014 37
Marie Butler weaves community
and hope together through the
promise of art therapy
The Power of
Leap_Fall14_p36-39.indd 37 2014-08-18 3:02 PM
Top Job
myl eapmagazi ne. ca 38 fall 2014 myl eapmagazi ne. ca
ome call her “the arts and crafts lady.” Easy to spot
as she wheels her art cart around the Cross Cancer Institute
(CCI), it’s a title Marie Butler says she’s privileged to wear,
offering patients dealing with cancer treatment a respite
from persistent thoughts of their disease. Over the past two years, the
expressive arts therapist has split her time between the Cross Cancer In-
stitute and the Westmount Shopping Centre site of the AHS Department
of Psychosocial and Spiritual Resources,
a place where cancer patients and their
families are offered a bridge to well-being
of mind, body and spirit.
Meant to offer stress relief and a sense
of joy, vitality and purpose to patients and
families at various stages of the cancer
journey, the AIM (Arts in Medicine) team
has created popular classes in music (drumming and harp), painting,
photography, journal writing and fibre arts that are part art class and part
support group.
“People tend to be fairly fresh in their cancer journey when they take
our classes. Our hope is to support them with an emotional outlet,”
says Butler. “Cancer has a lot of outside pressures, so we offer a place to
experience something positive, where people can just be real, be them-
selves and be among others going through the same thing. It’s not about
being a good artist – it’s just an invitation to play, like we’re all in kinder-
garten again.”
While she guides much of the AIM programming, Butler is quick to
say it’s entirely a team effort, led by director and clinical psychologist
Dr. Shawn Steggles, registered psychologist Dr. Jill Turner and secretary
Helene Sommer.
Butler works with patients of all ages and their families. That some-
times includes a grief counselling program with kids who have a sick
or dying parent, called Art for the Heart. At the Cross Cancer Institute,
Butler uses her warmth, humour and musical ability (she’s played piano
since she was six), to offer comfort to those in treatment. The role calls
for containment in this circumstance, she says, rather than her preferred
“make art, make a mess” philosophy.
“Sometimes people are so sick, it’s a
lot to ask of them to do art. Sometimes
all I can offer is to play music on the pia-
no. It’s a very personal thing for me,” she
adds. Fellow AIM team member Turner
says that at a time when cancer has sent
their lives out of control, art can be a sur-
prising and successful therapeutic tool
for patients, providing a sense of creativity and a new positive that isn’t
associated with unhappy memories or experiences.
Steggles adds that art therapy is still a new field, one that doesn’t nec-
essarily have a place in the current medical model. “But seeing what it
does for cancer patients, it’s not hard to be supportive of this work,” he
says. “The cancer journey is socially isolating, and for many, coming to a
class here is their first time out of the house in a while. People need to feel
part of a group.”
Patient satisfaction surveys give AIM programs top marks among all
areas of psychosocial oncology. In his six years with AIM, Steggles says
the number of groups have more than tripled, helping 465 people in the
last year alone. And while demand is high, he says AIM’s mandate means
all new patients who want to take part in one of the free classes can do so.
In a serendipitous turn, Butler even took a weaving class of her own
SHARING CIRCLE: Marie Butler, left, uses her warmth, humour
and artistic ability to offer comfort to cancer patients like Julie
Crawford, one of the many participants in her weaving class at
Edmonton’s Westmount Shopping Centre.
“We weave with intent – warp and weft,
up, down and across – and when a thread
breaks, it simply becomes part of the
tapestry,” says expressive arts therapist
Marie Butler.
Leap_Fall14_p36-39.indd 38 2014-08-19 2:06 PM
Al ber ta Cancer Foundati on fall 2014 39
“It wasn’t easy to put my life back together
and move on, but weaving has taught me
lessons: there are no mistakes, everything
and everyone is unique, and sometimes you
do your best work in your darkest times,”
says breast cancer survivor Jennifer Jordan.
that has now become a symbol for AIM. Described by class participants
as meditative, relaxing and life-changing, the eight-week freestyle weav-
ing class uses a Japanese Saori loom. “There’s a nurturing aspect to the
lull and rhythm of the loom, the different yarns, fabrics and textures.
“But there’s also the cama-
raderie of being among fellow
cancer survivors, working in
a circle – talking or not – that
creates a mothering energy. We
weave with intent – warp and
weft, up, down and across – and
when a thread breaks, it simply
becomes part of the tapestry.
There’s mindfulness and spirituality that emerges with the work, and it
reflects the participant’s own cancer journey,” Butler says.
Breast cancer survivor Kristi Sainchuk, 39, calls weaving a metaphor
for life and the first thing since her diagnosis two years ago that has
made her happy. “I wanted to find a space in my head to be meditative.
I can’t do yoga because I tend to ruminate and get anxious, but weaving
forces me to focus,” says Sainchuk, who has since bought her own Saori
loom to continue her weaving at home.
Funded largely by the Alberta Cancer Foundation at a cost of about
$1,600 per loom, the initial weaving class pilot project brought togeth-
er Butler, cancer survivors and a facilitator around several Saori looms
for a weekly session. But a positive response led to a spring class and
a weaving group that has since taken on a life of its own. Once a week
through the summer, Butler and facilitator
Tanya Corbin kept the weaving and shar-
ing going, while the classmates created
framed tapestries, prayer flags and even
woven cards for a fundraiser – as a way to
give back for the gift they say they’ve been
Dealing with ongoing treatment and
multiple surgeries since her diagnosis of
cancer of the jaw bone, participant Eileen Kennedy says the isolation
she felt after chemotherapy and radiation treatment, plus the recent
death of her twin sister from cancer, brought her to the weaving group.
“I did this to help me carry on. I had been a kindergarten teacher – very
active – and this is a special place where I found others who understand
what I’m going through. I want to say ‘thank you’ for that.”
That sentiment is echoed by Crystal Ewaschuk. Following a year that
included being diagnosed with rectal cancer and having a subsequent
heart attack, the need to relieve anxiety and stress brought the 52 year-
old to AIM’s weaving class, where she found compassion and under-
standing. “Some days we talk more than weave. I was withdrawn, anx-
ious and depressed, but the weaving has given me some pleasure in life.
I don’t know what I would’ve done without this. Life has some meaning
again,” she says.
“It wasn’t easy to put my life back together and move on, but weaving
has taught me lessons: there are no mistakes, everything and everyone
is unique, and sometimes you do your best work in your darkest times,”
adds breast cancer survivor Jennifer Jordan.
Like the multi-coloured tapestries they weave – with a gap here, a
pop of texture or added sparkle there – the cancer survivors taking
the weaving class have created more than a piece of art. Butler points
to the low-skill, high-sensitivity nature of the art, exemplified by the
recent arrival of a donated loom from Quebec at the Cross. Within
three weeks, inpatients created a 30-foot woven tapestry, a testament
to the automatic beauty of how the body responds to weaving, accord-
ing to Butler. “We’re all here together because of the cancer experience,
but these different people with different lives work here in a common
rhythm, creating something bigger than themselves,” she says. “We
feel like there’s a big heart guiding us.”
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myl eapmagazi ne. ca 40 fall 2014
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arry Taylor knows how to navigate the trail. He has found himself
traversing switchbacks and scaling mountainsides across the country,
sending dispatches to friends and family, at first through a newsletter
and in recent years, a blog. With age, the 69-year-old has had to slow
down a bit (“I go for the spectacular views that might not be that difficult,” he says),
but he’s still an evangelist for the power of hiking.
“In the beginning, I was afraid, like other people,” he says. “But I’ve had incredi-
ble encounters. Just go up there, stand in the sunlight with the cool breeze in your
face and you’re hooked.”
Many people stop following outdoor pursuits because they think it’s too expen-
sive and too exclusive. But hiking is one activity you can begin whenever you like –
all you have to do is get out there. Fall is also one of the best times for beginners to
start hiking because the weather is temperate but not hot, and the summer crowds
have tapered from cramped, popular trails.
All you really need, by way of equipment, is a good pair of shoes. “Rocky Moun-
tain trails are a bit on the robust side, so you can’t do it in sandals,” says Taylor, not-
ing sturdy sneakers or trail shoes will suffice for easy, flat hikes. If you’re interested
in finding a pair of hiking boots, he suggests having the store salesperson help you
find the perfect fit. A good boot could last you up to a decade, so taking this part
seriously can really pay off. When you stand up in the boots, make sure you can wig-
gle your toes around.
Morgan Rattray, a hiking and camping customer representative at Mountain
Equipment Co-op in Calgary, recommends purchasing wool socks. These will wick
moisture away from your feet, which is the best way to prevent blisters. The general
rule is that if your feet are happy walking, you’ll be happy on the trail.
Into the
Don’t let the great outdoors intimidate
you. Hiking’s all about reaching great
peaks – both physically and mentally
Al ber ta Cancer Foundati on fall 2014 41
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He jokes that he once thought they were “for wimps,”
Taylor recently started using alpine hiking poles on his
hikes, but he notes that they’re not a necessity, espe-
cially in the beginning. Other gear includes the clothes
in your closet – but beware that you’re certain to get
them dirty, so don’t wear your nicest outfits. Once you
start taking new paths, you might consider buying hik-
ing-specific clothes. You’ll also want a good backpack,
with solid back support, to carry your goods for the day.
Taylor considers his blog, Hiking With Barry, an out-
door diary rather than a guide, and suggests going out
to buy a certified guidebook to help you take on more
ambitious walks.
“You don’t have to start off backpacking,” adds Rat-
tray. “Just taking a walk in a park provides different
scenery and views than walking in the city. It’s some-
where that you haven’t been before.”
Both Taylor and Rattray say that there are a number
of hiking groups that coordinate online. They are often
organized by skill level and speed, so there’s something
for everyone.
What often scares new hikers the most about the trail
is wildlife – and there’s no shortage of it in the Canadi-
an Rockies. But Taylor says there’s no need to be terri-
fied, or to be heavy-handed with the bear spray (which
you should still carry). “Tell the bear where you are,”
he says, explaining that you should always make noise
or chat with your hiking group. “Don’t go around bends
without hooting and hollering, and don’t walk into a
clearing with berries.”
Having good socks will wick
moisture away from your feet,
which is the best way to prevent
blisters. The general rule is that
if your feet are happy walking,
you’ll be happy on the trail.
Necessities for the trail, from the bottom up
Emergency kit: You never know what could happen. Taylor
has never had to use his kit but he still carries one that in-
cludes a reflective blanket, mirror, matches and paper, knife,
and tarp for shelter. Include a flashlight and headlamp, in
case you lose track of time and night falls.
Rain gear: An umbrella will work just fine for short hikes,
says Taylor, but if there’s any chance of serious rain or if
you’re going to be outdoors for a long time, it’s best to have a
waterproof outside pant layer (like gaiters) and a jacket.
Layers: It’s Alberta, so the weather changes fast. If it’s a
hot day, still bring a long-sleeved wool shirt, hat and fleece
sweater. In the winter, you could need as many as four layers.
Try to find sweat-wicking clothes that dry out fast.
First-aid kit: It should be easily accessible, right above your
change of clothes, so you can reach it in a hurry.
On top: You’ll want sunscreen, bug spray, wipes and tis-
sues. And bring some snacks, depending on the length of
the hike.
Tip: Clip your water bottle and camera to the outside of
your bag.
• Lake Agnes teahouse and the area around Moraine Lake have stunning
postcard vistas.
• Johnston Canyon on the Bow Valley Parkway between Banff and Lake
Louise is well-maintained and entirely tracked with handrails and gravel,
making it ideal for all physical activity levels.
• Tunnel Mountain in Banff has switchbacks and is relatively short with a great
view at the end. It’s popular with families.
• Calgary’s Nose Hill Park, a great urban wilderness, has hours of walking
trails and different terrain.
• Bighorn Alley in Jasper provides access to both Annette and Edith lakes.
• Athabasca Falls, along the Icefields Parkway, offers a glimpse into
a thundering canyon and waterfall spray.
Rattray warns that you should try to be aware of when the sun sets each day – there
are special watches that keep track of this for you, or you can check with the Weather
Network. You might also want to take a map and learn how to read it because even
GPS systems can fail. “They also don’t function like the ones you use in your car, so
you have to understand them,” she says.
But that doesn’t have to mean stifling your spontaneity, either. Once you know the
key rules, there’s lots of room to abide an adventurous spirit, says Taylor: “Listen to
your gut,” he says. “Go over the ridge if it says to. Indulge your inner child.”



myl eapmagazi ne. ca 42 fall 2014
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Al berta Cancer Foundati on fall 2014 43
Paying homage to legendary
country crooners pays off for
husband-and-wife Jamboree
for Charity organizers – to the
tune of $100,000
ountry music? No thanks. When his dad
put on his favourite country melody, Craig Senyk
would have preferred an industrial set of earbuds.
Yet those spirited hours listening to the country
twang of legends like George Strait somehow managed to seep
into the soul of Senyk, to the point where has chosen to find
a method celebrating his favourite genre of music with his fam-
ily’s altruistic spirit.
Craig and his wife Cara held the second-annual Jamboree
for Charity this past June, raising a cowboy-hat tipping figure
of $103,000 for the Alberta Cancer Foundation. The money
will be used for enhanced research and patient care at the Tom
Baker Cancer Centre. “I don’t think I’ve seen so many smiles
in one place,” says Craig, who says he was finally submerged
by the triumphs and trials of country music in his university
days. (Cara has yet to discover the same passion for spurs and
banjos.) “Cara has given me a long leash for this passion,” says
Craig with a chuckle.
Why I Donate

GUITAR PRO: Country music artist Bobby
Wills, seen here with organizer Craig Senyk,
donated his guitar at the Jamboree before
performing at the fundraiser.
Leap_Fall14_p43-45.indd 43 2014-08-18 8:03 AM
myl eapmagazi ne. ca 44 fall 2014
“Bringing friends and family
together, introducing them to
country music, while helping a great
charity – there is no better feeling in
the world,” says Craig Senyk.
The show, held at the Calgary Petroleum Club, featured a lineup of Canadian talent,
including Adam Gregory, Gord Bamford and Bobby Wills, all Canadian Country Music
Association nominees who were proud to be “two-stepping for change.” Kim Wright,
a business development manager for CANWELL H2S Solutions as well as a jamboree
donor and guest, says the evening was one that couldn’t be captured at a regular
concert event.
“It’s the type of experience that you just can’t purchase on Ticketmaster,” Wright
says. “You would never see three bands
of that calibre in a relaxed club environ-
ment, where you could drink, dance, and
laugh with your friends. The Jamboree is
so much more.”
Many of the guests actually took two-
stepping lessons at the beginning of the
show, allowing them to amplify their
country music experience. Jessica Cu-
errier, manager of Events South for the Alberta Cancer Foundation, said the music
and event’s environment had an uplifting and positive impact on everyone’s mood.
“Music therapy is an integreal part of healing and has a cathartic element. People grav-
itate towards the genre that is most meaningful at the moment and gives them a voice
for what they are feeling. In this case, it was country music,” she says.
Not only did the artists perform their signature tunes, but they also chose to
elevate the mood by staying for photo opportunities, sharing stories and even reveal-
ing their own personal experiences with cancer. “There isn’t a person in the world
that hasn’t had to deal with cancer in some way,” says Craig. “Part of the objective is
to bring the audience closer to the fans, and of course showing off top-notch country
music,” he notes.
Craig lost his grandmother to cancer, and it is her
torch that he carries when hosting emotionally-charged
evenings like this one. Cuerrier commended Craig for
being an incredible supporter of the Alberta Cancer
Foundation. “His generosity of spirit is beyond com-
pare. He was the most significant contributor to the
silent auction in terms of items,” she says.
Although the event was rais-
ing funds for the Alberta Can-
cer Foundation, it kept the door
open to a number of other caus-
es, including the Children’s Wish
Kiptyn Claypool, a three-
year-old boy who has recently
struggled with kidney cancer,
was one of the true cowboys in attendance. Known for
belting out Gordon Bamford’s “The Good Life,” on
repeat around the house, he’s taken a spirited
approach to a scary segment in a boy’s life. This
stunning tenacity caught the ear of the Senyks and
eventually, Bamford himself.
The artist behind the feel-good salute played a
special, intimate rendition for the Claypool family at
the event, which Craig calls the highlight of the
evening. Along with the track, Bamford signed and
presented a guitar to the family.
STAR-STUDDED: The Jamboree for Charity, held
at Calgary’s Petroleum Club, hosted a packed house
and a star-studded lineup of country favourites
including Bobby Wills and Gord Bamford.
Leap_Fall14_p43-45.indd 44 2014-08-18 8:03 AM
Al berta Cancer Foundati on fall 2014 45
WISHFUL THINKING: A highlight of the Jamboree saw Children’s Wish
recipient Kiptyn Claypool (third from right) and his family meeting the boy’s
idol, Gord Bamford (third from left), who performed. Joining the duo are,
from left: Alicia Bjarnason, Geoff Claypool and Jamboree host Craig Senyk.
FOR THE CAUSE: Craig Senyk and Alberta Cancer Foundation CEO
Myka Osinchuk thank donors for attending the event, which raised more
than $100,000 for the Alberta Cancer Foundation, benefiting the Tom Baker
Cancer Centre.
When asked about what one feels following the show,
Craig did not shy away: “Bringing friends and family
together, introducing them to country music, while
helping a great charity – there is no better feeling in the
world,” he says.
Wright says that the Senyks’ country-western theme
was a smash, and applauded the generous spirit that
seemed to capture the room. “I believe the intimacy of
the evening allowed participants to feel more connected
to the cause. After all, it’s the cowboy way to help oth-
ers,” she says.
Cuerrier also applauded the concert. “The Alber-
ta Cancer Foundation is so fortunate to partner with
outstanding individuals and companies in the commu-
nity. We are always open to new events and concepts.
We couldn’t make investments into cancer care with-
out the community, donors, events and partnerships,”
she says. “I wish them nothing but success with future
events,” she adds.
The Senyks hope to continue the Jamboree every year.
And although the next Jamboree is not until next sum-
mer, the couple has already held their next charity event.
On July 11 the Senyks held an outdoor rooftop party, apt-
ly called the Cabaret, featuring the talents of yet another
hot Canadian act, Tim Hicks. The Juno Award nominee
performed in hopes of raising funds for Theatre
Calgary’s education program called interACTive.
Leap_Fall14_p43-45.indd 45 2014-08-18 8:03 AM
myl eapmagazi ne. ca 46 fall 2014
Research Rockstar Research Rockstar
Leap_Fall14_p46-49.indd 46 2014-08-18 8:58 AM
Al ber ta Cancer Foundati on fall 2014 47
University of Alberta professor Ing Swie Goping’s
research could change the way we treat breast cancer
Leap_Fall14_p46-49.indd 47 2014-08-18 3:00 PM
reast cancer researcher and associate
professor at the University of Alberta Ing
Swie Goping turned heads in the world of
cancer research when she discovered that a
protein in breast tumours could play an important role
in treatment. “No one had figured this out before,” ex-
plains Dr. John Mackey, an oncologist and researcher
colleague of Goping’s. “People were asking, ‘Why didn’t
someone at the National Institutes of Health or Harvard
discover this?’ ”
Goping discovered that a protein called Bcl-2-associ-
ated death promoter – or BAD for short – made cancer
cells more sensitive to taxane chemotherapy. “In the
lab, if we got rid of the protein in the cancer cells, those
cells didn’t die when we treated them with taxane ther-
apy,” Goping explains. “But if we added more BAD pro-
tein, the cells were more sensitive to taxane therapy.”
Because all women with breast cancer have variable
amounts of the BAD protein in their tumours, Goping’s
research could dramatically change the way women
with breast cancer are treated.
Taxane therapy is often recommended for women
who have more aggressive types of cancer, because it
tends to be more effective than other drugs in these cas-
es – but it doesn’t work for everyone. Goping’s research
could give doctors a clear indication before they even
prescribe as to whether taxane therapy is likely to work
or not. And given that taxane is “one of the most toxic
chemotherapies that we have,” a predictive diagnostic
test could prevent hundreds of women in Alberta every
year from undergoing a grueling treatment that won’t
help them. On the other hand, Goping explains, “If your
doctor was able to tell you ‘we found levels of protein
in your tumour that shows that you’ll respond well to
taxane therapy,’ that will give hope.” And for patients
undergoing a treatment that might leave them feel-
ing nauseated, damage their skin and decimate their
immune system, hope is exactly what they need.
Since showing a correlation between the BAD pro-
tein and taxane therapy’s effectiveness in cell cultures,
Goping is now studying hundreds of banked breast
tumour samples to see if her conclusion holds true
for human samples. Her research is being supported
by the Alberta Cancer Foundation’s Transformative
Program fund, which supports research that is likely to
lead to new breakthroughs,
improve treatment and in-
crease the quality of life of
cancer patients.
She’s doing this by mea-
suring the levels of BAD in
hundreds of samples removed
from patients, and comparing
that with data on which treatment each patient received
and how successful they were. The hypothesis is that
this research will show women who initially had high
levels of BAD protein in their tumours responded well
to taxane therapy, and vice versa. “We hope to have an
answer within the next five years,” says Goping.
Goping’s research plays into a larger trend in cancer treatment, which is becoming
more fine-tuned thanks to a greater understanding of the role various genes and pro-
teins play. “Personalized medicine is the catch phrase now,” Goping says. “We need to
understand what’s happening at the cellular level.”
Because of the nature of scientific discovery, many studies either don’t find a link,
or only show one piece of a much larger puzzle, and therefore don’t change the way
cancers are diagnosed or treated. One reason Goping’s research is so exciting is that
“It’s something that can be taken right from the lab bench to the bedside,” explains Ju-
dith Hugh, a pathologist at the Walter Mackenzie Health Sciences Centre in Edmon-
ton. “If she’s proven right, what this means is
that the clinicians will be able to make more
rational decisions about what type of che-
motherapy to give.”
Going from the bench to the bedside isn’t
easy, however. “It takes undying enthusi-
asm,” says Hugh. “You have to be willing
to think outside the box, you have to take
risks.” It also takes persistence. Goping has been conducting various studies related
to BAD for more than a decade, and in that time she’s hit dead ends that have forced
her to try new research approaches. “She goes about answering her questions in a very
systematic way, whereas other researchers may bounce around from one topic to an-
other,” says Dr. Alan Underhill, who is Goping’s husband and the Mary Johnson Chair
in Melanoma Research at the University of Alberta and Cross Cancer Institute.
myl eapmagazi ne. ca 48 fall 2014
Research Rockstar
“Personalized medicine is the catch
phrase now. We need to understand
what’s happening at the cellular level,”
says Ing Swie Goping.
BAD MEDICINE: U of A researcher Ing Swie Goping is looking
into the effectiveness of taxane therapy and its relation to levels
of BAD protein in patients’ tumours.
Leap_Fall14_p46-49.indd 48 2014-08-18 8:02 AM
You have three teenagers (aged 15 to 19), do you think they’ll go into
cancer research?
We’ll see. That decision is completely up to them. If they do decide to go
into research, they’ll know what they’re in for, because they hear all about it
around the dinner table.
What do you like to do for fun?
I go horseback riding with my daughter; she got me into it when she was
young. We ride in the arenas and sometimes do trail rides. It’s nice just to
get out to the barn and clear your mind.
Where are you planning to go for your next vacation?
We’re going to Vancouver Island. We’ve rented a house by the water and
we’re so looking forward to just chilling on the beach and cooking and
checking out the sights.
How do you connect with your family?
With two parents working and three kids that are pretty busy with sports,
school work and friends, we try to make the time to sit down every evening
for dinner. Everyone can catch up and connect. My husband likes to cook.
Where do you get your motivation?
I get a lot of motivation from the students and the other researchers I work
with in the lab. Seeing their energy and enthusiasm is really encouraging,
and I love that I’m able to see my students grow, to learn how to critically
think and become more independent.
Al ber ta Cancer Foundati on fall 2014 49
A “power couple” as Hugh calls them, Underhill and
Goping often bounce ideas off of each other in the Ed-
monton home they share with their three teenage chil-
dren. “Things come to you when you’re not expecting
it, like maybe when you’re washing the dishes, so we
end up talking about cancer research a lot,” explains
Goping. “It’s so nice having access to someone you can
test out ideas on without the fear of looking like an idi-
ot,” Underhill says.
As someone who lectures students in the classroom
and oversees their research in the lab, Goping is well
practised in helping other researchers shape their
ideas. “Some lab environments can be high pressure
and hostile. Ing Swie treats people with a lot of respect,
and gives them the time they need, which varies from
student to student,” says Underhill. Hugh, who has vis-
ited the lab on a number of occasions and sees Goping
interact with her student, explains, “She appears to be
a cheerleader. She proud of them, she’s guiding them.”
Indeed, what makes Goping a research rockstar
is not just her individual research, but the way she’s
grooming future generations of cancer researchers. In
addition to her own study, students in her lab are test-
ing out new drugs and studying more precisely how the BAD protein affects cancer
cell growth in mice tissues. “We try to really use a team-based approach,” says Go-
ping. “Somebody’s eyes might see something the other person’s didn’t.” This ap-
proach is important, given that the studies in the lab are interconnected, and the
researchers can learn from each other about how to design a study and what research
questions to ask. “The researchers on one project may know something that can help
their friend on another project. That’s a very important thing we do, to build that ca-
maraderie,” Goping says.
Seeing her students develop their ideas in the lab is something Goping finds in-
credibly rewarding. “As they start to get comfortable and do their own readings of
the studies being published, you start to see them reaching out and asking their own
questions,” she says.
Of course, juggling teaching with research, grant writing and other bureaucrat-
ic tasks can take its toll. To de-stress, Goping goes out with three of her scientist
girlfriends for dinner, a group they cheekily call, “Definitely Not a Journal Club.”
She also debriefs with Underhill. “We spend a lot of time talking about the problems
we’re facing,” she says. “Our jobs can be high pressure and stressful, so it’s nice to
have someone who says, ‘You’re doing great.’ ”
Goping credits her husband, kids and friends for sustaining her energy in the long
haul of her research. She also feels gratitude for the Alberta Cancer Foundation and
its donors who support her work. After all, conducting research that changes how
cancer is treated doesn’t happen by fluke, it’s taken Goping years and years of exper-
imenting. “There are no highs without lows in cancer research, there’s not a quick
fix for anything, but the more we know, the better we are at guessing where to go,”
explains Goping. “It’s rewarding, but you have to fight for it.”
Leap_Fall14_p46-49.indd 49 2014-08-18 8:02 AM
myl eapmagazi ne. ca 50 fall 2014
Wind in Her Sails
Fiona Garforth-Bles lost more than her share of sleep, body heat and even a
tooth – but she never let go of her dream of completing two legs in the renowned
sailing race Clipper Round the World.
That dream saw the 53-year-old oncology nurse travel by sea from San Francisco
through the Panama Canal to Jamaica, then to New York and across the North
Atlantic to finish in London, England. She did so alongside 18 other amateur
sailors and pro skipper Eric Holden, who made up Team Henri Lloyd in the
presti gi ous competiti on against 11 other
70-foot yachts.
“It was the hardest thing I have even done,”
says the Bragg Creek resident, who has worked
at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre in outpatient
chemotherapy for nearly 14 years.
An avid sailor, Garforth-Bles trained for three weeks in England in spring 2013
before embarking on her international journey this April. In July, after logging
more than 8,800 nautical miles, she surpassed her goal of raising $1 per mile
for the Clinical Trials Unit at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre – in the end netting
$11,436 in donations.
She counts as perks a trophy and bragging rights that came when her team was
the first to cross the finish line at London’s St. Katharine Docks. But the months-
long race had its challenges. “You have some really high moments and really low
moments,” Garforth-Bles says. “The low moments are when you’re very tired, sea-
sick, and you’re being woken up at 3:30 in the morning to be on deck at 4 a.m. and
it’s cold and wet outside and you just want to be in your bunk.”
Subsisting on a just few hours’ rest, the constant sleep deprivation was the
hardest to bear. And as the team medic, Garforth-
Bles was tasked with helping others, including a
teammate who suffered a gallstone attack. But hers
was the most serious injury sustained among her
crewmates, she says. “I ended up losing a tooth and
cut my lip and chin by being hit by a spinnaker sheet.
It is quite a dangerous occupation.”
The oppor-
tunity allowed
her to mesh her
life-long affinity
for boating with
supporting cancer research. “I love sailing and I
wanted to cross an ocean,” Garforth-Bles says.
“When I set that goal, I wondered how I could I
do something for my patients. So I came up with
this idea that the money would go to clinical trials.
When I was sitting there all cold and wet, I thought
‘at least I am doing something for a good cause.’ ”
-Shelley Williamson
Oncology nurse hits the high seas in an around-the-world race,
raising money for clinical trials at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre
“When I was sitting there all cold and wet,
I thought ‘at least I am doing something
for a good cause,’ ” says Fiona Garforth-Bles.
My Leap

SAFE HARBOUR: Fiona Garforth-Bles’s
boat, the Henri Lloyd, took top honours in
the round-the-world race.
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