Donors are helping put Manitoba on the map as a research powerhouse. Thanks to your incredible generosity, CancerCare Manitoba is leading a multi-centre Canadian study exploring the best way to treat esophageal cancer.

Your unwavering commitment is helping save the lives of people afflicted with this often fatal disease. People like Beverly Neisteter.

Beverly had a strong feeling there was something seriously wrong with her early last year when she couldn’t eat and her only nutrition was a supplement drink. She was experiencing uncomfortable symptoms and finally saw her physician in April 2018. Unfortunately her intuition about being sick was right. A scope detected Beverly had esophageal adenocarcinoma, an aggressive form of cancer.

She began a four-cycle chemotherapy regimen fairly soon after her diagnosis. Then this past October, Beverly had an esophagectomy, a surgery to remove her esophagus and then reconstruct it using her stomach. This was followed by more chemotherapy during the winter. Her much anticipated CT scan in March delivered the best news possible – no recurrence of her cancer.

Beverly fully appreciates how fortunate she is that donor-funded research has advanced treatment for her disease.

“My oncologist told me that five years ago my diagnosis would have been a death sentence,” says Beverly. “I think of how much worse and scary cancer was years ago. I’m so thankful for the people who came before me and agreed to be part of research and clinical trials and for you, the people who give for this research to even be possible.”

She is one of the blessed ones with esophageal cancer. Like lung cancer, it is a silent disease, often diagnosed in late stages. The esophagus is a long, hollow tube which helps move swallowed food from the back of your throat to your stomach to be digested. Symptoms are trouble swallowing, fatigue and weight loss.

About 2,500 Canadians annually receive the devastating news they have this disease. People generally don’t survive their diagnosis and it is a leading cause of cancer death. Famous people who have succumbed to it include actor Humphrey Bogart and Richard Dawson, original host of the popular game show Family Feud.

Your investment has helped and will continue to help ensure there are more survivors like Beverly. Funds you generously donated last year supported a leading-edge CancerCare Manitoba research grant with an intriguing title: PreOperative Treatment With ChEmotheRapy or ChemoRadiAtioN in EsophaGeal or GastroEsophageal AdenocaRcinoma or POWERRANGER.

Surgically removing the esophagus is the most common treatment, however previous studies have shown patients live longer when chemotherapy is given before and after surgery or before surgery combined with radiation. What remains unclear though is which of these treatments is more effective in improving long-term survival.

This is where the POWERRANGER study comes in and why your support of it has been so critical. A talented team at CancerCare Manitoba is the driving force behind this innovative study. The results will ultimately help answer fundamental questions related to treatment, quality of life and outcomes. Thanks to your help, they are truly breaking new ground.

“When I was a resident the question of what was the most successful treatment for esophageal cancer kept coming up. No one knew the answer as no definitive trials had previously been done studying the options,” said Dr. Gordon Buduhan, Thoracic Surgeon and Principal Investigator. “The support of donors has enabled CancerCare Manitoba researchers to launch the trial in Winnipeg and open it in Toronto. We are close to opening in Halifax as well. The funding is integral to growing the study as a truly national collaborative effort.”

Dr. Buduhan says there is not enough knowledge or conversation about esophageal cancer. It affects many people, the quality of life associated with it is terrible and it’s a horrible way to die. And because it’s so aggressive, it demands an equally aggressive treatment approach.

That this donor-funded study being available in Manitoba is so important to Beverly and others like her with this type of cancer. She is so grateful your support made it possible and for the new lease on life research has given her.

To the donors who support the Foundation, thank you. I don’t think we say enough thank yous generally and until you go through what I have, you don’t tend to realize this,” says Beverly. “My diagnosis taught me so much and made me realize how much I took for granted. I feel great now and I’m so thankful to you.