Cold Hands, Warm Hearts

Each year, hundreds of fundraising initiatives take place across the province to support the Alberta Cancer Foundation’s promise of progress in cancer research, treatment, prevention, and care. However, our foundation does have its share of highly unique fundraisers operating outside of Alberta in some interesting venues. Case in point— the Nunavut Women in Action walk supporting breast cancer research at Edmonton’s Cross Cancer Institute. Sub-zero temperatures, dense snow, and polar bears set the stage at the beginning of May for six extraordinary women to walk an astounding 155 miles across the icy Coronation Gulf from Bay Chimo to Cambrige Bay.

You may be wondering why people in Nunvaut would raise money for breast cancer research at the Cross Cancer Institute. As Alberta’s gateway to the north, Edmonton is the closest centre for many residents of the Canadian territories who require cancer treatment. Breast cancer is a disease that affects 1 in 9 Albertan women and the Alberta Cancer Foundation continues to deliver on our promise of progress by funding more than 50 breast cancer research projects and purchasing mobile mammography units to screen rural Albertan women. The importance of breast cancer research to the people of Nunvaut was evident in their overwhelming enthusiasm for Women in Action.  At some rest stops, the entire community population would attend to cheer on the ladies or make a donation. Though the temperatures in Nunavut were cold, the warmth of many hearts allowed the women to take steps of hope towards a future without breast cancer. 

Through the efforts of Women in Action walk leader Edna Elias and her team mates (Elisabeth Hadlari, Jeanie Ehaloak, Donna Olsen Hakongak, Jamie McInnis and Janet Brewster), an extraordinary $80,000 will be handed over to the Cross Cancer Institute at a special cheque presentation on July 5th at 10:00 am. Dr. John Mackey, a world-renowned medical oncologist, and Alberta Cancer Foundation staff will be on hand to personally thank Edna Elias and her community of supporters for becoming a powerful part of Alberta’s cancer-free movement.  For more information on the Women in Action event, please visit their fundraising web page at

~ Ashton Paulitsch
   Marketing Associate,
   Alberta Cancer Foundation

What a ride!

Yesterday I finished my first Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer benefiting the Alberta Cancer Foundation. What a remarkable experience it was. I had heard from colleagues that this weekend would be inspiring but nothing quite matched the feeling of being there, right in the middle of it.

At the opening ceremonies at Spruce Meadows Saturday morning, you could feel the energy of the riders, listening intently to the moving speeches on stage. Our board chair (and rider and survivor), John Osler announcing an amazing $8 million raised to fund research at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre, the Cross Cancer Institute and the 15 other cancer centres across the province. That’s more than $30 million over four years. John also talked about how cancer is more than statistics. It’s about the stories and people we meet along the way. “We write our own stories in a movement for a cancer-free future,” he said. After this weekend we certainly have more stories to tell.

Al Monaco, president of Enbridge, whose team brought 162 riders, raising a whopping $664,600 (as well as being the national sponsor) acknowledged that the Ride isn’t like any other event. A trophy isn’t handed out like at the end of the hockey game but because cancer has touched so many people, this event is extra special.

MLA Dave Rodney, who faced his own epic feat by being the only Canadian to ascend the summit of Mount Everest twice, thanked the Alberta Cancer Foundation for supporting groundbreaking research and care but encouraged riders to continue to stand up to cancer. We all have a role to play in the cancer journey, he said, from raising money to providing care and the government of Alberta has a role to play in investing in that transformative care.

Once the ceremonies were over, my husband Scott and I, got on our tandem bike and joined more than 1800 people to head south and wind our way through Okotoks, High River and other pit stops before reaching camp at Chain Lakes Provincial Camp. Seeing the survivors with yellow flags on the back of their bikes or photos of loved ones lost to cancer on their jerseys reminded me why we were doing this.

The rain never let up but people’s spirits were high at camp as they visited, tried to stay warm and prepared for the 100km return journey to Calgary the next day.  I was truly impressed by people’s grace and perseverance.

Sunday morning was the same—a real feeling of camaraderie as we made our way from one pit stop to the next, then finally enjoying that last few kilometers downhill into the finish line at Spruce Meadows. Families and friends cheered on participants, often thanking them for riding.

Now I know what people meant when they talked the impact of the Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer. It’s a weekend I won’t soon forget and since Scott and I have already signed up for 2013, we will be able to relive it next year. To our donors, participants, volunteers, crew, sponsors and cheerleaders: thank you for being such a powerful part of Alberta’s cancer-free movement. See you next year!

Myka Osinchuk
~ Myka Osinchuk
   CEO, Alberta Cancer Foundation

Teeing up for a cancer-free future

The 24th Annual Cross Cancer Institute Golf Classic, presented by Digital Communications and Rogers Communications, has raised an all-time event record of $1,101,974 for the world’s first Linac-MR, a cutting-edge radiotherapy machine that has the unique ability to take a magnetic resonance (MR) image while guiding radiation to tumours in real time.

One hundred and forty-four golfers enjoyed 18 holes of golf, complete with a special snack, beverage, game or prize on every hole at the Derrick Golf & Winter Club in south Edmonton. Following the tournament, golfers attended a dinner banquet and silent and live auction. Amongst the live auction prizes was an once-in-a-lifetime dinner at Cal & Edna Nichols’ penthouse overlooking the majestic river valley with Oilers royalty including Patrick LaForge, Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and new head coach Ralph Krueger. When two bidders battled it out for the prize, Edna added a few more places so both gentlemen could attend this exclusive dinner party for an incredible combined bid of $42,000. From the generosity of tournament participants and sponsors alike, the unbelievable $1.1 million fundraising total will be earmarked for the next stage of development for the revolutionary Linac-MR.

Once thought to be a technology that could not successfully be done, the innovative hybrid invention is the brainchild of Dr. Gino Fallone, director of medical physics at the Cross Cancer Institute and professor of oncology. “One machine that does all this—to do that is not a simple feat and has not been done before, because these machines are typically allergic to each other,” explains Dr. Fallone.

Dr. Fallone and his team were first in the world to build a successful Linac-MR prototype with funds from the 2006 and 2009 Cross Cancer Institute Golf Classics. Thanks to the 2012 Cross Cancer Institute Golf Classic’s $1.1 million funding injection, they can now move forward with constructing a full-scale version of the machine that will be tested in clinical trials at the Cross Cancer Institute.

“Getting funding for new ideas is very difficult, but the Alberta Cancer Foundation has supported us every step of the way. The money raised at the Cross Cancer Institute Golf Classic is a wonderful display of trust from the community and we are grateful for opportunity to continue developing the Linac-MR,” says Dr. Fallone.

The Linac-MR will revolutionize cancer treatment in Alberta and beyond by allowing doctors to see a tumour more clearly, even if it shifted during the treatment process, and minimize the margin of healthy tissue receiving radiation. This clear target would also allow them to use higher doses of curative radiation, meaning fewer, more precise treatments for patients and with fewer side effects.
The discovery also makes radiation therapy more accessible for cancers currently difficult to treat with radiation because of organ movement: prostate, lung, brain, liver, stomach and pancreatic cancers. Furthermore, the Linac-MR has the potential to increase the likelihood of tumour control by an estimated 20 to 40 per cent, resulting in better outcomes for patients.

Every dollar raised at the 24th Annual Cross Cancer Institute Golf Classic will remain right here at home, supporting one of Canada’s leading cancer research and treatment facilities—Edmonton’s Cross Cancer Institute. All donations to Linac-MR will be matched three to one.

To date, the Cross Cancer Institute Golf Classic has raised more than $9 million to support improved cancer treatments and on-going research, as well continued investment in groundbreaking projects and programs.

~ Ashton Paulitsch
   Marketing Associate,
   Alberta Cancer Foundation

Run or Walk in the Name of Rock!

It’s time to whip out the black eyeliner and vintage concert tees for the 4th annual Rock n’ Roll Climb of Hope Run presented by Hudsons Canadian Taphouse in benefit of the Alberta Cancer Foundation!

On September 15th, more than 300 wannabe rockstars will complete a 5km run or walk to the sounds of rock n’ roll in Edmonton’s river valley. The course, which starts and finishes in Victoria Park, is complete with over 900 stairs to challenge participants who will be given the rock star treatment with food, prizes, and entertainment before and after all the moving and grooving.

To date, the event has raised $310,000, earmarked for cutting-edge cancer research, treatment, screening, and care at Edmonton’s Cross Cancer Institute. Presenting sponsor Hudsons Canadian Taphouse also hosted their “Week of Hope” at all five of their Edmonton locations to raise even more money towards the event. From ­­­­­August 20th-26th, all Hudsons customers were offered a five dollar gift certificate in exchange for a $5 donation to the Alberta Cancer Foundation in support of the Cross Cancer Institute. What better way to enjoy a few brews and wings with some friends than for an amazing cause? 

Sign up today for the Rock n’ Roll Climb of Hope Run by visiting Once you’ve registered, start teasing that mane, planning out your rad threads and practicing that power stance—make the rock legends proud! 

Thanks for the dough!

Luigi, Louis and David Bontorin from the Calgary Italian Bakery present $50,000 to Michael Civatella and Dr. Jan-Willem Henning and the Tom Baker Cancer Centre team participating in the 2013 Enbridge Ridge to Conquer Cancer.  The donation to the Alberta Cancer Foundation will go towards the clinical research unit at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre.