2023 Impact Report

BC Cancer Foundation

Opening Remarks

Sarah Roth


When we asked you to go Beyond Belief with us this past fall, in the most ambitious and comprehensive health campaign in B.C. history, not only did you respond wholeheartedly, you inspired a movement.

More than 83,000 of you from across the province rallied your communities, fundraised, gave and activated your networks to make a difference. This culminated in an incredible 270,000 donations — almost 20,000 more than last year — and yet another banner year for the BC Cancer Foundation with a total revenue of $76.3 million before the government grant.

Your commitment to advancing cancer care in our province is contagious. As evidenced by an unprecedented $150 million grant — a key component of B.C.’s cancer action plan — the provincial government has shown it shares your faith in our work supporting BC Cancer.

With your help, we can leverage this investment even further to recruit and retain the world’s leading minds, who consistently choose BC Cancer as the best place to perform their life-saving work. And catalyze even more innovative research and care in every corner of the province.

In this report, you’ll read about just a few of the people and programs you’ve helped fuel over the past year — the BC Cancer clinicians whose clinical trials are changing the face of cancer care and the incredible advancements in immunotherapy and genomics.

As well, you’ll find your own philanthropy reflected in the stories about other generous donors who are moving the dial in detection and prevention, hard-to-treat cancers and in increasing access in underserved populations.

In my role at the Foundation, I see the impact your gifts have every day. I meet the experts whose progress is powered by your support, and the families who are so grateful to benefit from this work. I hope the following pages provide you with a small glimpse into the privilege it is to be your trusted partner in advancing cancer care in B.C., and the enormity of what your generosity has made possible.

As we look back at all we’ve accomplished, I truly believe the best is yet to come. Incredible advances are just around the corner, and with demand for cancer services continuing to increase drastically over the next decade, we need to activate this progress now to ensure we’re ready to meet these needs in the future.

Sarah Roth,
President & CEO,
BC Cancer Foundation


BC Cancer Foundation continues to move from strength to strength. This year, following a record-setting 2022, we launched the historic Beyond Belief campaign. As always, your response was nothing less than transformative.

We are thrilled to report on the impact your generosity has enabled. On the advances in innovation, expertise and care, and in increasing access to supportive care services to treat the mental health side effects of cancer. Thanks to you, BC Cancer – Vancouver now has a new dedicated space to offer this life-saving support, which will act as a model for other centres across the province.

Community investment in BC Cancer Foundation has not gone unnoticed — as demonstrated by the recent unprecedented grant from the provincial government. This sends a strong and unmistakable message that our donor community, and the research and innovations to care that your philanthropy makes possible, will be a driving force for the future of cancer control in B.C.

On a personal note, a highlight of this year for me was my family’s $5 million gift to help fulfill the dream of BC Cancer – Burnaby. You can read more about what this incredible progress means to my family and our community further down in this report, and I hope our investment inspires you to enthusiastically support BC Cancer Foundation in your own communities.

As BC Cancer expands services with new regional centres across the province, it will be this “care closer to home” that will deliver the capacity that is so needed — both right now, and for generations to come.

As I begin my final year as Board Chair, I am as honoured and inspired as ever to be, alongside all of you, a part of the solution. From all of us on the Foundation board, thank you for your unwavering support.

John Signature




John McCarthy,
Board Chair,
BC Cancer Foundation

John McCarthy


April 1, 2022 to March 31, 2023

As the fundraising partner of BC Cancer and the largest funder of cancer research and innovation in the province, the BC Cancer Foundation, along with you, our community of donors, have gone further than ever before to activate BC Cancer experts, advance the frontier of possibility, and broaden access to care for every British Columbian.

Not only did we raise $76.3 million this year, our work and impact has garnered unprecedented trust from the provincial government in the form of a $150 million grant. These funds will spark new breakthroughs and expand the reach of cancer care in B.C. This success is the result of shared effort and belief — and none of it would have been possible without you.

BC Cancer Financials
BC Cancer Financials

Fundraising: $56.2 million – represents all donations received as a result of annual fundraising programs, major gifts and bequests.
Investment and Other Income: $12.9 million – includes interest, dividends and realized gains on investments.
Charitable Events: $7.3 million – represents revenues generated primarily from mass participation events.
Government Grants: $150 million

*The financial highlights on this page are based on BC Cancer Foundation’s audited financial statements for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2023

Play Video about Beyond Belief


Last September, we launched Beyond Belief, the most ambitious and comprehensive health fundraising campaign in the history of the province to support cancer research and innovation, access to care, and the BC Cancer experts who are making it happen. 

Our goal was to raise $500 million with your generosity funding research, equipment and care in every corner of the province. 

Beyond Belief means going beyond what anyone thought possible as we build a world, if not free from cancer, one that is free from the fear of cancer. Thank you for joining us on the journey to get there.

“The Beyond Belief Campaign is an unprecedented opportunity for us, the community, to lend a much needed hand to those who are building a world free from cancer. It’s our chance to be part of the story. Let’s not sit on the sidelines.”
Miranda Lam
Miranda Lam
Beyond Belief Campaign Chair
“The Beyond Belief Campaign is an unprecedented opportunity for us, the community, to lend a much needed hand to those who are building a world free from cancer. It’s our chance to be part of the story. Let’s not sit on the sidelines.”
Miranda Lam
Miranda Lam
Beyond Belief Campaign Chair


A future free from cancer is built on the breakthroughs in care and treatment that we invest in today. With your help, we’re making exciting strides toward that future.

Hager Family

Hager Family Donates Largest Gift Ever to Pancreatic Cancer Research

In the four short months he had left after his devastating pancreatic cancer diagnosis, Bob Hager set in motion a research and care initiative that has become an international leader in just over a decade.

In honour of Pancreas Centre BC’s 10-year anniversary in 2022, Judy Hager and her daughters, Leslie Carter and Shelley Ferris, injected another $5 million into Bob’s legacy to improve outcomes for patients with this groundbreaking program.

In partnership with the BC Cancer Foundation and VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation, and matched by both for a total of $10 million, Leslie says this donation — the largest ever in B.C. to pancreatic cancer research — is about continuing her dad’s hope of earlier detection and better outcomes for this hard-to-treat cancer with a survival rate of only 6%.

“We have great confidence in the work being done by BC Cancer and VGH — this donation reiterates our conviction that by working together something can be done about this disease,” she says.

Incredible advances, made possible by donors like the Hagers, include a discovery that pancreatic cancer isn’t just one disease. “There are multiple important and distinct subtypes, each with its own potential actionable treatment pathway,” says BC Cancer’s Dr. Daniel Renouf, founding co-director with Dr. David Schaeffer of Pancreas Centre BC.

One subtype, related to a breast cancer gene mutation (BRCA) which is inherited and associated with other cancers, sparked a hereditary testing program — also fuelled by the Hager family — that proved so valuable it became the first government-funded program of its kind in Canada.

“The Hager’s recent generosity will allow us to take things to the next level,” says Dr. Renouf. Enabling recruitment, expansion of the hereditary testing program and work towards province-wide access to the Rapid Access Clinic — an inventive program created by Dr. Renouf’s team to reduce the time between diagnosis and treatment, which is acting as a model for other cancer programs in B.C.


Dr. Laskin

Precision Treatment Leaps Forward

Personalized Onco-Genomics (POG) is a promising pathway to discovery and advancement in precision cancer treatment. In the past, it has only been offered to patients who have exhausted traditional treatment options, but now, thanks to the donor-supported work of BC Cancer Distinguished Scientist Dr. Marco Marra and BC Cancer Medical Oncologist Dr. Janessa Laskin, POG is being made available to a broader patient set.

Genomics is playing a powerful role in multiple new studies including early detection, Head and Neck cancer care, enhancing a clinician’s ability to identify patients who may benefit from immunotherapy for hard-to-treat cancers, and more.

“We recently updated the protocol to apply genomic testing at an earlier stage,” says Dr. Laskin. “We’re involving patients who have a better chance at using the POG data to achieve improved treatment outcomes.” This is a positive step towards BC Cancer’s future vision of genomic testing becoming the standard of care for all British Columbians facing cancer.

This work is also making an impression well beyond B.C.’s borders. Dr. Laskin was senior author on a paper published in Annals of Oncology covering how comprehensive whole-genome sequencing can align more patients with the most effective treatment. The study caught the attention of colleagues from the U.K. who then penned an editorial for Annals, noting that Dr. Laskin’s work “represents a significant step by demonstrating clearly that molecular analysis of almost all cancer types can inform individual patient care.”

As Dr. Marra emphasizes, POG’s achievements would not be possible without the continued generosity of BC Cancer Foundation donors.

“Philanthropy has driven advancements in genomics at BC Cancer, and genomics has a major role to play in improving cancer care. Foundation donors have generously supported this vision and, on behalf of a large team of researchers and patient partners, we cannot thank them enough.”


Jackie Ellis

Donor-Funded Innovation Saves Lives

Jackie Ellis’ life changed over an August long weekend in 2010. Shortness of breath and a tightness in her chest quickly turned into the words, “You have lymphoma.”

The next few days were a whirlwind of appointments, a CT scan and biopsies, and by the following week she started the first rounds of CHOP-R chemotherapy at BC Cancer.

“I don’t remember having the time to comprehend the severity of my situation, because I was immediately supported and cared for,” she says. That support included a donor-funded clinical trial in which she had a PET scan to assess the success of a new treatment. If it wasn’t working, she could alternately try a new drug that was being researched.

Jackie is incredibly grateful to have been given these life-saving options. Even more so when last year she was diagnosed with melanoma.

Again, within days she saw an oncologist, and had surgery. No chemotherapy or radiation was required.

“During my cancer journeys, I witnessed the power of research,” says Jackie. “I have seen firsthand the incredible impact of funds raised by the BC Cancer Foundation to support clinicians, researchers, technologies and supportive care for everyone in our province.”

Now Jackie wants to be a part of this change. It’s why she’s been riding in the Tour de Cure since 2012, and why she’s leaving a gift to the Foundation in her will.

After recovering from cancer twice, Jackie says, “I made a promise to myself to make a difference. That promise will be my legacy.”


Dr. Brad Nelson

Donors are Building the Future of Immunotherapy

Founded solely on community support, BC Cancer’s Conconi Family Immunotherapy Lab (CFIL) in Victoria is driving innovation in one of the most promising fields of cancer research.

As the first lab in Canada to produce CAR T-cells (genetically engineered copies of a patient’s own immune cells that attack and destroy cancer cells) for clinical use, the CFIL has made the paradigm-shifting treatment more cost-effective, providing BC Cancer patients greater access to this revolutionary form of treatment through a leading-edge clinical trial.

This cross-Canada initiative is being performed in partnership with Ottawa Hospital and is focused on certain types of leukemia and lymphoma which are otherwise fatal. Over 65 patients have been treated so far, and the results for the first 30 have been published in an international journal documenting the treatment as safe and effective, with many patients experiencing complete regression of their cancers.

“It’s a huge leap that wouldn’t have been possible without the many donors who stepped up to support this ‘futuristic idea’ 20 years ago,” says Dr. Nelson, who adds, “The work of our team has gone from being a bit on the fringes a couple of decades ago to advancing toward standard of care today.”

Continued donor support is helping Dr. Nelson and his colleagues explore how to take CAR T-cells even further, from successfully treating blood cancers to taking on the even bigger challenge of solid tumours, which represent the majority of cancers. Specifically, they are developing CAR T-cells to treat ovarian and pancreatic cancers — two of the most resistant cancers to existing therapies.

 A breakthrough on this frontier will change outcomes for thousands of patients diagnosed each year and wouldn’t be possible without the support of our donor community.


“I’m a big believer in trying to take control of what’s within our control, and I believe raising awareness and strengthening our cancer care system is something that’s within our control. I think we all have a role to play here because coming back to the ‘one in two of us will be diagnosed in our lifetime’ statistic, means that we are all, unfortunately, in some shape or form, going to be touched by cancer.”
Dr. Sharlene Gill
Dr. Sharlene Gill
Medical Oncologist BC Cancer – Vancouver
“I’m a big believer in trying to take control of what’s within our control, and I believe raising awareness and strengthening our cancer care system is something that’s within our control. I think we all have a role to play here because coming back to the ‘one in two of us will be diagnosed in our lifetime’ statistic, means that we are all, unfortunately, in some shape or form, going to be touched by cancer.”
Dr. Sharlene Gill
Dr. Sharlene Gill
Medical Oncologist BC Cancer – Vancouver


Donor support helps us accelerate access to vital care to every corner of the province so that people can receive the treatment they need, closer to home. Your support takes laboratory discovery straight to those who need it most.

Diamond Family

Fuelling hope for Hereditary Cancer

From monthly giving to decades of ongoing support, our donors — inspired by the life-saving work being done at BC Cancer — are in it for the long haul. No one exemplifies this more than the Diamond family.

Gordon Diamond donated the land the Vancouver research centre stands on over 20 years ago, and this year the Diamond Foundation gave one of the largest gifts ever to the Foundation, $7.2 million to increase identification and improve care for women and their families at high risk for hereditary cancer.

“This generous donation is a giant step on the path towards transforming hereditary cancer care across B.C.,” says Dr. Kasmintan Schrader, co-director with Dr. Sophie Sun of BC Cancer’s Hereditary Cancer Program.

It will fuel three clinical projects: A focus on people of Ashkenazi Jewish descent, who are 10 times more likely to carry a BRCA gene mutation, which increases their risk of breast, ovarian and prostate cancer. Immediate genetic testing for breast cancer patients age 60 and under. And a first-in-Canada outreach program that directly contacts relatives of high-risk individuals.

In addition, it will increase access to necessary additional screening (annual MRIs and mammograms starting as early as age 25 for patients deemed high risk), and expand future capacity and expertise through three Breast Imaging Fellowships at BC Cancer. As well as improve patient experience through additional staffing (two nurse navigators, two nurse practitioners and three genetic counsellors), and a new space to home all hereditary cancer clinical resources in one convenient patient-centred location.

“Prevention and early diagnosis are crucial in stopping inherited disease,” says Sarah Roth, BC Cancer Foundation President & CEO. “The more awareness and resources we can provide — through increased genetic testing and access to preventative screening — the more families we can save from the vicious cycle of having generation after generation face devastating cancer diagnoses.”


Bill and John McCarthy

BC Cancer – Burnaby: A 50-Year Vision Becomes a Reality

When John Jambor first gave to the Foundation in 1970, in honour of his late wife, little did he know that he would inspire four generations of giving that would culminate in a world-class cancer centre in his beloved community.

Moved by his great grandfather’s legacy, John McCarthy is serving as the youngest board chair in BC Cancer Foundation history. Together with his father William (Bill), the McCarthy family donated $5 million in 2022 to realize a goal over half a century in the making for their family — the redevelopment of the Burnaby Hospital to include a BC Cancer Centre. 

“Burnaby is our home. I’m proud to live here, work here, and give back here,” says Bill. “The growth of the third largest city in B.C., with a health-care catchment of half a million people, is calling for this.”

The fourth cancer centre in the Fraser region, BC Cancer – Burnaby will offer hospital-adjacent cancer treatment, supportive care and research. With one in three new cancer cases expected to come from the area over the next ten years, the new centre will increase access to life-saving care for locals.

“Comprehensive cancer control with care closer to home by expanding into different regions across B.C. is a vision and a strategy we’ve supported for decades,” says John.

The McCarthy’s financial investment — which includes a $21.4 million donation to the Foundation in 2012 — is equally matched by their active commitment. As former chair of the Burnaby Hospital Foundation, Bill has been at the helm of every capital campaign in the hospital’s history and John is entering his final year as board chair of the BC Cancer Foundation. 

“The two causes for our family, going back generations, to the time of my great-grandfather, have always been BC Cancer and Burnaby Hospital,” says John. “This really is a dream come true for us.” And one made possible by donors. 

Dr. Rob Olson

Cutting-Edge Care Comes Closer to Home

Your support is changing the cancer story for people in every corner of the province, including Cicilio Calado, a 59-year-old groundskeeper and janitor from Kitamaat Village.

Having already had chemotherapy and liquid radiation for colon and thyroid cancer over the past decade, Cicilio was not looking forward to undergoing the gruelling treatment again after a pain in his rib alerted him to another cancer recurrence. 

Instead, his family doctor referred him to an innovative clinical trial in Precision Radiation Treatment (PRT) at BC Cancer – Prince George. Once there, Radiation Oncologist and Research Lead, Dr. Robert Olson explained SABR-COMET-3, a game-changing clinical trial that uses precise, high-dose radiotherapy to target tumours, in fewer treatments with less harmful side effects. 

“It was a breeze. No burning. No pain. Nothing,” Cicilio says of the five consecutive days of PRT treatment. “The hardest part,” his wife Johanne jokes, “was after 15-20 minutes of treatment, what do you do for the rest of the day?”

Once back at home on B.C.’s North Coast, Cicilio quickly returned to work and only needs to drive 15 minutes to a local clinic every three months for a check-up. “Time will tell if Cicilio is completely cured,” says Dr. Olson, “but for now there’s no evidence of any disease, and the cancer is completely controlled.” 

“Thanks to Foundation donors, we’re proud to be leading potentially paradigm-changing clinical trials from BC Cancer – Prince George,” he says. “Even further, we’re able to offer follow-up of patients in their rural and remote home communities, a demonstration of our commitment to decentralizing clinical trials.”


“Asa Johal lived by the Sikh principle of sharing and giving back, even his name, ‘Asa,’ means hope, which he gave to so many people. It didn’t have to be personal to Dad — if it meant a lot to the person asking, that was reason enough to give.”
The Johals
Darcy and Manjit Johal
On what inspired their $1 million matching gift
“Asa Johal lived by the Sikh principle of sharing and giving back, even his name, ‘Asa,’ means hope, which he gave to so many people. It didn’t have to be personal to Dad — if it meant a lot to the person asking, that was reason enough to give.”
The Johals
Darcy and Manjit Johal
On what inspired their $1 million matching gift
Jocelyn Degula

Accessible Care Everywhere in B.C.

When Jocelyn Degula began planning her family’s move from Dubai to Dawson Creek, she couldn’t have imagined that during her first year in B.C. she would need to travel five hours from her new home to receive chemotherapy — or that donors would help facilitate this life-saving treatment. 

A month before their move, Jocelyn discovered she had breast cancer. Her home was packed, her children were enrolled in school and her husband in the local college — they couldn’t change plans. 

One week before the move, Jocelyn had surgery, but still needed chemotherapy and radiation. And so in August 2021, she found herself in a new country without a support network, trying to figure out how to access treatment which required a month’s stay in Prince George. 

“I needed to bring my children, because they were still small. BC Cancer’s Patient & Family Counselling team told me not to worry and arranged an Airbnb for us to stay in.”

Jocelyn is now cancer free, and grateful to the BC Cancer Foundation’s donor-funded Beyond Barriers Patient Relief Fund which provides patients, who meet program-specific criteria and are from rural or remote communities, with the financial and logistical resources required to access treatment.


The World’s Best Activated

BC Cancer experts are some of the best minds in global cancer research and innovation. Their work has changed the face of cancer care both here and abroad. And it’s all thanks to you. 

Dr. Connie Eaves

Leaders Creating Leaders

Your generous support has a ripple effect, fuelling the work of legendary pioneers like Dr. Connie Eaves and through the Foundation-funded Rising Stars Awards — inspired by Dr. Eaves’ commitment to support an expanded generation of new scientific leaders — and thus shaping the future of cancer care.

As a founding member of BC Cancer’s initial research program in 1973 and the Terry Fox Laboratory in 1981, few have had a bigger impact on cancer research than Dr. Eaves. Her discoveries in hematopoietic, mammary and cancer stem cell biology have improved therapies worldwide, and garnered her numerous awards, including inductions into the Order of Canada and the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame.

But don’t ask Dr. Eaves to choose which accolade is the most meaningful. “It’s like asking, ‘Which of your children do you love the most?’” she laughs. Speaking of offspring, she’s extremely proud of her work as a “scientific mother,” mentoring more than 100 graduate students and postdoctoral trainees, many now in senior research leadership positions around the world.

Working with the next generation has been one of the secrets to her success over a five-decade career, notes Dr. Eaves. “Trainees bring new, disruptive ideas along with an infectious energy that keeps us on our toes, ready to take advantage of unexpected findings.”

In its inaugural year, the Rising Stars program awarded scholarships to 10 BC Cancer trainees with forward-thinking research focused on a wide range of topics, such as autism and cancer risk, and addressing care gaps for Punjabi-Sikh patients. Inspired by the BC Cancer experts before them, and propelled by your philanthropy, these talented minds will help us achieve a future free from cancer.


Dr. Islam Mohammed

Kelowna at the Leading Edge of Cancer Research

Okanagan soil is internationally renowned for growing great grapes, but now — thanks to donor support of world-leading research at BC Cancer – Kelowna — the Interior is breaking global ground with a first-of-its-kind clinical trial in lung cancer.

The trial presented by BC Cancer’s Dr. Islam Mohamed at the World Conference on Lung Cancer in Austria last year is supported by a BC Cancer Foundation fellowship, and combines two highly effective therapies — Stereotactic Ablative Radiotherapy (SABR), which delivers high doses of radiation while sparing surrounding healthy tissues, and immunotherapy which stimulates the immune system to destroy tumour cells.

Highly innovative, it’s the only trial in the world using circulating tumour DNA (detected via a blood test) to guide the duration of immunotherapy when used with SABR for early-stage lung cancer. 

Almost 100 patients will be enrolled in the four-year study at four BC Cancer centres with Kelowna at the epicentre. Dr. Mohamed hopes the study’s learnings will have even further reach through the research fellowship, made possible thanks to $360,000 in Foundation support. 

“It’s a win-win-win,” he says. “We get manpower to help operate the study. The fellow gets expertise that they can take to their respective centre, to introduce these novel treatments. And we can advance the state of the art in the field.” 

Philanthropy is the enabling factor that allows us to deliver this type of innovative care, he adds. “It’s one thing to have an idea for how to do things differently, but unless you can attract funding, that idea kind of withers.” 

A leader in the Kelowna community, AJ Gill was happy to help fuel the work being done in his own back yard. “BC Cancer and Dr. Mohamed supported us during my mother’s cancer journey, and our family is honoured to support this world-first research and the innovation happening right here at home.”


Promising New Treatment for Rare Ovarian Cancer

BC Cancer experts have an incredible legacy of innovation in treating ovarian cancer, including the first effective preventative surgery now adopted globally. One of the latest donor-funded breakthroughs, is changing the way the world understands and treats a rare and aggressive form of this disease. 

A promising new drug, Mirvetuximab (MIRV), is being tested by the International Consortium for Low-Grade Serous Ovarian Cancer (ICLC) thanks to a discovery made by BC Cancer Gynecological Oncologist Dr. Mark Carey.

Dr. Carey and his research team examined over 150 patients with the rare ovarian cancer and found that 40% of their cancers expressed high levels of a protein (FOLR1) that MIRV effectively targets. Previous trials for high-grade serous ovarian cancers (HGSOC) have shown remarkable results, and studies confirmed that MIRV is most effective in cancers with higher levels of FOLR1. 

This discovery highlights the importance of identifying molecular targets in cancers that can be used to classify subtypes and guide treatment. “There are often four to five subtypes of a rare cancer,” explains Dr. Carey. “By identifying what sets the groups apart, we can better understand why a treatment was effective or not.”

In their ambitious goal to reduce ovarian cancer incidences by 50% over the next 15 years, BC Cancer’s Ovarian Cancer Research Program (OVCARE) includes geneticists, pathologists, epidemiologists, gynecologic surgeons and even computer scientists as they bring the very latest in Artificial Intelligence (AI) to the frontlines of cancer detection and care.  

In addition to grateful patient and community support, the OVCARE team’s groundbreaking research is attracting attention from corporate catalysts including investments of $150,000 each from TD Bank Group and Acuitas Therapeutics, whose own innovative research helped enable a COVID-19 vaccine.  



Your dedication has given us another banner year of fundraising and impact. This is what drives us to keep going. Beyond limits, beyond what anyone though possible, beyond belief.

These highlights from last year are just a sample of all that we accomplished together through shared vision and determination.

On behalf of the BC Cancer Foundation, thank you for your vital role in this community.

Manjit Lit
President & CEO Sarah Roth
Elizabeth Laugharne
Jill White

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