CANCER FOUNDATION TIMELINE
The Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation was founded in February 1995 by a group of community leaders who wanted to ensure that cancer care would remain a priority year-round. The original name of the organization was the Ottawa Regional Cancer Centre Foundation. The offices were inside the Ottawa Hospital General Campus on Smyth Road. The Cancer Foundation logo was designed to resemble the Eastern Ontario geographic footprint the Foundation served.
The Cancer Foundation partnered with the Prostate Cancer Association of Ottawa-Carleton to host the first Do It For Dad fundraiser. The event was focused on raising funds and awareness for men’s cancers – specifically prostate cancer. Over the years the event has supported cancer research, education programs, the purchase of state-of-the-art equipment including the CyberKnife and the da Vinci Surgical System. Since inception the event has raised close to $4 million. In 2012 the event was renamed the ULTIMATE RUN for Men’s Cancers.
The Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation was introduced to Dr. John Bell, a scientist with the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute. He was embarking on an innovative new research project, but was not having success securing the funding to begin his study. The Cancer Foundation granted Dr. Bell the original $25,000 to begin his research on the oncolytic virus.
- Fast-forward to 2015, and it’s a very exciting time here in Ottawa for Dr. Bell and his team. They are making tremendous advancements in the discovery and development of oncolytic viruses, which is a new biotherapeutic treatment for cancer patients. They are embarking on a Phase 1 clinical trial using new homegrown technology. It’s a virus that was developed in the cancer research labs here in Ottawa, and it will not only target a variety of cancer types, but it will also induce a very strong immune response against those tumors so that we get a very strong therapeutic punch in cancer action. The study will be open to a variety of local cancer patients who have solid tumors.
In 2003, the Board of Directors decided to introduce pro-active fundraising programs, including annual giving, leadership giving and planned giving. The objective was to increase yearly revenue to support cancer care and research. A new logo was designed to align with the new objectives. The green triangle represented the land in Eastern Ontario and the blue, the water.
The Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation created a fundraising campaign called the ‘Courage Campaign’ – bringing together community leaders to help raise funds for local cancer care. When the Cancer Foundation began the Courage Campaign’s quiet phase, the government of Ontario had yet to approve the expansion of cancer facilities in the region. A feasibility study had been completed which identified a number of expansion scenarios. The preferred scenario was the two-site expansion. The initial private sector need was identified at approximately $15M-$16M for expansion, and $5M for local cancer research.
In 2004, the decision was made by the government that expansion in Eastern Ontario would include a major addition to The Ottawa Hospital Cancer Centre, and a new facility at the Queensway Carleton Hospital.
Given this decision, the Campaign Cabinet began offering two construction & expansion options to donors; they were invited to support expansion either through an unrestricted contribution to the Courage Campaign or specific gifts to either expansion site. Donors then chose where to direct their money.
In December 2005, the Cancer Foundation officially launched its capital expansion program entitled the ‘Courage Campaign’. The $20 million Courage Campaign would fund the private-sector portion of the $100 million plus multi-faceted cancer care and research expansion project. The Courage Campaign would essentially double the Regional Cancer Program’s capacity to serve the 1.2 million residents of Eastern Ontario.
The project would help with the expansion and creation of new treatment facilities at the Ottawa Hospital’s General Campus and the Queensway Carleton Hospital. It would also double the physical space available for research and clinical trials — accelerating the progression of new life-saving therapies from lab-bench to beside.
Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation volunteer Chuck Merovitz and wife Bonnie were on vacation in California and during his travels found came upon a Cancer Survivors Park. They came to learn that the park that left them with a sense of peace and serenity was a Cancer Survivors Park, built to generate exactly those feelings. When he returned to Ottawa, Chuck brought back with him the dream to build a similar Park here in our community. He rallied community leaders who worked to secure funding from the H&R Bloch Foundation to build the Cancer Survivors Park at the corner of Industrial, Riverside and Alta Vista.
The Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation Board of Directors adopted an expanded mandate to fund the expansion of cancer services throughout Eastern Ontario. The Cancer Foundation moved out of the hospital and took up residence in an office tower at 265 Carling Avenue. The Cancer Foundation partnered with hospitals across Eastern Ontario including Pembroke, Deep River, Arnprior, Cornwall, Winchester, and the Ottawa Hospital Cancer Centre. The Cancer Foundation had raised more than $12 million to date for local cancer care.
An example of this regional success, the Cancer Foundation partnered with the Winchester District Memorial Hospital for the purchase of a digital mammography machine. Each year approximately 2,100 people receive digital mammographies at the Winchester Hospital.
The Cancer Foundation officially opened Canada’s first Cancer Survivors Park.
In November, the Cancer Foundation announced the close of Phase 1 of the Courage Campaign – raising $20.5 million, surpassing its goal of $20 million. The funds were earmarked for the following projects:
- $5 million toward the construction costs that would help double the size of the Ottawa Hospital Cancer Centre at the General Campus;
- $4.5 million to date toward equipment and construction of the Irving Greenberg Family Cancer Centre at the Queensway Carleton Hospital, with more to come as we partner to raise $7M;
- $7.3 million for local cancer research and clinical trials. Funds to be directed to the Centre for Cancer Therapeutics at the Ottawa Health Research Institute to support chairs, research programs, equipment, and talented researchers and doctors;
- $3.7 million directed by donors to regional cancer priorities – including funding to partner hospitals throughout the region who are delivering cancer care – like CHEO and Bruyère Continuing Care.
Bruyère Continuing Care is home to Canada’s largest academic palliative care hospital unit as well as Ottawa’s only palliative care hospital unit—with 36 beds at Élisabeth Bruyère Hospital. The Danbe Foundation designation through the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation completed its $1.5 million “Help us Make our Hospital a Home” Campaign to renovate this unit, upgrade patient rooms, and to provide a more comfortable, home-like environment for the patients and their family members—improving their quality of life.
In celebration of that partnership, the E Wing at Élisabeth Bruyère Hospital was named in honor of Rabbi Bulka, a longstanding Cancer Foundation volunteer and community champion.
All four family rooms and 32 out of the 36 patient rooms have been beautifully renovated.
By September 2010 the remaining patient rooms were finished.
On average, approximately 450 patients make use of Bruyère’s palliative care hospital unit every year, with the hope that when families face one of the most difficult times of their lives, it will take place in a more serene, respectful and comfortable environment.
The Cancer Foundation was granted $1.7 million in Infrastructure Funding for the construction of Eastern Ontario’s FIRST Centre for Cancer Survivorship. The Federal Government’s portion of the funding was part of the national Infrastructure Stimulus Fund, under Canada’s Economic Action Plan. Ontario’s matching contribution is provided through the 2009 Ontario Budget – Confronting the Challenge: Building Our Economic Future. The announcement was made live during the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation’s annual Cancer Foundation Telethon in January 2010. During the seven-hour live broadcast, Federal Transport and Infrastructure Minister John Baird and Ontario Minister of Community and Social Services Madeleine Meilleur made the funding announcement.
In May, the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation hosted a breakfast launch for Phase 2 of the Courage Campaign, which was led by Peter Charbonneau, General Partner of Skypoint Capital Corporation, and Fred Seller, partner of Brazeau Seller LLP. The goal was to raise $30 million, and continue to build on the success of Phase 1 of the Campaign. The funds would be directed toward four key priorities including: helping to reduce wait times for diagnosis and treatment, providing care closer to home by activating cancer sites at area hospitals, investing in cancer research and improving overall quality of life.
To kick off the campaign, the team from Maplesoft Group presented the Cancer Foundation with a cheque for $1.8 million towards the construction of the facility – which would be named the Maplesoft Centre when it opened in Fall 2011. The Infrastructure funding and the gift from Maplesoft Group allowed the Cancer Foundation to fast-track the project and, one month later, we broke ground on the site of Canada’s first Cancer Survivorship Centre – and were joined by the Governor Generals Footguards Band, along with dignitaries including Mrs. Laureen Harper.
In September 2010, the Cancer Foundation celebrated the opening of the CyberKnife at the Ottawa Hospital. The Cancer Foundation allocated more than $1 million towards this state-of-the-art radiation tool. It is the world’s first and only robotic radiosurgery system designed to treat tumors throughout the body. The CyberKnife can pinpoint tumors and treat them without the need for surgery or lengthy recovery periods. In its first year doctors completed approximately 330 operations using the device. The treatments are an average of 45 minutes per patient, over the course of one to five days. Those numbers are compared to traditional radiation treatments over a seven to eight week period. The result for the patients: quicker recovery time and fewer side effects.
In October 2010, Mayor Larry O’Brien signed documents to begin construction of the Maplesoft Centre.
April 2011, construction on the Cancer Survivorship Centre continued into the final phase. Community leaders and volunteers toured the site, along with Mrs. Laureen Harper.
In July 2011, construction of the 11,634 square foot building was finished and Cancer Foundation staff packed up the office at 265 Carling Avenue and moved into the building at 1500 Alta Vista Drive.
Over the summer, the Survivorship Care team worked on the development of the Cancer Coaching practice, and fine-tuned the list of health and wellness programs that would be offered.
In October, The Ottawa Hospital Foundation honoured the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation and The Stephen Greenberg Family Foundation for their contributions of $1 million each toward the purchase of the da Vinci surgical system.
The da Vinci surgical system, which provides the surgeon with increased precision, vision and control, is revolutionizing treatment for many prostate cancer patients. This critical piece of equipment means less blood loss and pain, shorter hospital stays and faster recovery times.
Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men, and most of these patients are treated with surgery. But the reach is even bigger than that – while the da Vinci has been used mostly for urology, it is being used more and more for gynecological, cardiac and general surgeries. The da Vinci Surgical System started treating patients in May 2012.
On November 3rd, 2011 the Cancer Foundation officially opened the doors to Canada’s first Cancer Survivorship Centre. The day was filled with celebrations that began at 6am with a live broadcast on CTV Morning Live. The morning show broadcast live from the Cancer Foundation and featured live interviews on Cancer Coaching and the health and wellness programs.
The Cancer Foundation partnered with the QEII Foundation in Halifax as one of the Canadian host cities for Bust a Move for Breast Health – a one-day fitness fundraiser. For the first year of the event, fitness guru Richard Simmons served as our celebrity instructor and thoroughly entertained participants who each raised a minimum of $1,000 to secure their spot on the floor. In its first three years, Bust a Move raised more than $1 million for local breast health programs and research.
In March, the Cancer Foundation hosted a reception in honour of the Zeron Family, who rallied their friends and family to raise $25,000 for the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation. For 14-year-old Adam Zeron and his big brother Brandon, the donation was in memory of their mom Diane, who lost her battle with cancer on August 28, 2008.
In 2012, the Cancer Foundation also saw the da Vinci Surgical System begin operating on patients at The Ottawa Hospital under the guidance of Dr. Rodney Breau.
The Cancer Foundation has a long-standing partnership with the Queensway Carleton Hospital. The two organizations partnered to work together to raise $7 million for the construction of the Irving Greenberg Family Cancer Centre. This was an incredibly important project to the Cancer Foundation as it helped to provide residents in the west end of the city with access to care closer to home and helped to reduce wait time for diagnosis and screening.
In order to help raise funds towards this partnership, the Cancer Foundation developed the EPIC WALK. It’s the city’s longest one-day walk, that takes participants on a 27km walk from the west end to the Richard and Annette Bloch Cancer Survivors Park. During the annual Cancer Foundation Telethon, we were able to update funds that we have allocated to the construction of the Irving Greenberg Family Cancer Centre, bringing us to $4.9 million raised of the $7 million.
Cancer impacts so many families, in so many different ways. In June 2013, some young volunteers wanted to help those touched by cancer so they worked together to create the Great Canadian Lemonade Standemonium. On one day, hundreds of local kids hosted lemonade stands across the city in support of the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation. In two years the kids have raised more than $120,000 in support of cancer research at CHEO.
And in January 2013, the researchers announced a breakthrough on the project. An innovative new treatment was discovered, and it’s one that has exciting results and could revolutionize the way doctors approach the disease. The new treatment, a collaboration between scientists Dr. John Bell and Dr. Robert Korneluk, is so effective in treating 10,000 times more cancer cells. The treatment combines two immunotherapies, and by doing that it changes the cell response.
This year marked a very important milestone for the Cancer Foundation. The $5 million pledge to the Ottawa Hospital for the expansion of the Cancer Centre was completed – and the hospital hosted a celebration in honour of our support of the facility.
In February, the Cancer Foundation’s 3rd annual Bust a Move fundraiser for breast health reached $1 million raised – and participants were joined by celebrity fitness instructor Derek Hough from Dancing With the Stars.
In October, the Cancer Foundation celebrated again after receiving its first multi-million dollar donation in support of our Cancer Coaching Health and Social Care Service. Philanthropists and community leaders Barbara Crook and Dan Greenberg announced a $2 million gift to the Cancer Foundation after seeing first-hand the positive impacts of Cancer Coaching. As part of the celebration, the kitchen was named in honour of Audrey Crook, and a plaque was installed in the kitchen displaying one of Audrey’s hand-written recipes. Sadly Audrey lost her battle with breast cancer in 2001.
February 2015 the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation celebrates our 20th anniversary. Over the last two decades, we have seen the cancer conversation shift. Today, researchers are talking about cancer as more of a chronic illness, in some cases one that can be prevented, treated and controlled. Cancer is no longer something we shy away from discussing – it’s front and centre – and we are attacking it on all fronts.
The Cancer Foundation is incredibly proud of what we have accomplished in our community, thanks to the generosity of our donors. We have listened to the needs of cancer patients and their families, along with oncologists and researchers – and have worked tirelessly to ensure local families have access to the very best care, right here at home. We have remained steadfast in our resolve to ensure cancer care and research continues to be a top priority year-round in our community.
Thanks to the generosity of our community, the Cancer Foundation has been able to help every person who is diagnosed with cancer in our community.