WATCH: After losing two friends to ovarian cancer, a Victoria woman is donating a quarter-of-a-million-dollars to the BC Cancer Foundation. Their close-knit friendship has its roots right here at CHEK, and as Kori Sidaway tells us, the money will go towards cutting-edge research, to hopefully, save more lives.
The loss of two friends is the inspiration that led a Victoria resident to gift $250,000 to the B.C. Cancer Foundation for ovarian cancer research.
“It was heartbreaking, to watch them have to go through and endure the treatment they had to go through for ovarian cancer and what any woman has to go through for ovarian cancer,” said donor Patty Pitts.
Through Carol Lalonde and Marlene Palmer’s many doctor’s visits and chemo trips, Pitts was there. It was a sisterhood that had its roots right here at CHEK.
“Marlene Palmer was a reporter and anchor at CHEK in the early 70’s and 80’s. I went to CHEK in 1980 and that’s where I met Marlene. We became fast friends,” said Pitts.
Patty met Carol a little while later, forging a strong friendship as hiking buddies. But, their dreams of travel were cut short.
“It was shocking and heartbreaking when she was diagnosed and she went very very fast.”
So when a family inheritance came Patty’s way, she didn’t think twice about donating to ovarian cancer research, in honour of her two close friends.
The money came available to Pitts through a recent family inheritance, and she hopes the fund will bring new hope to ovarian cancer patients in B.C.
“It’s a truly awful disease,” said Pitts.
“I just hope this fund will prompt other donations to help the really talented people at the cancer agency to provide other breakthroughs in providing better outcomes for women with ovarian cancer.”
Carol was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the fall of 2015 and it was in November of 2016 when Marlene learned she would be battling ovarian cancer.
Pitts said the two became “chemo buddies” with treatments taken together, which she says helped them be able to share their feelings and support.
Marlene lost her fight with cancer last December.
Carol then passed away in August.
The B.C. Cancer Foundation says the quarter-million dollar gift will support Dr Brad Nelson and his team’s work in immunotherapy research at the Deeley Research Centre in Victoria.
“We really haven’t moved the needle on survival very significantly over the last few decades,” said Nelson.
“To really move this forward, we need to be thinking about new treatment paradigms, chemotherapy is only going to take us so far.
According to BC Cancer, 1 in 64 women will develop ovarian cancer during their lifetime. And while it may be too late for Carol and Marlene, the gift in their name may be able to impact someone else’s future.