Your support leads to healing

Tammy wakes up every morning feeling incredibly grateful. As a breast cancer survivor, she understands the fear of dying and the terrifying possibility of not getting to spend all the time she had hoped and dreamed of with her loved ones. Today, thanks to donor investment in cancer care, she is cancer free and leading a beautiful and full life.

Tammy’s journey with cancer began in 2014 when she was just 44 years old and a lump on her shoulder prompted her to make an appointment with her doctor. A physically active and overall healthy person, with no history of cancer in her family, Tammy, her husband, and their two teenage children were shocked and devastated when she received a breast cancer diagnosis. It felt like life had stopped.

The treatment she underwent for the next year was extremely difficult both physically and emotionally – surgery, followed by six rounds of chemotherapy and 35 rounds of radiation. She reports that the care she received from her oncology team at CancerCare Manitoba was exceptional in every way. However, it was CCMB’s emotional support programs, available thanks to the generosity of donors like you, she feels played just as significant a role in her overall healing and survival.

“When I was diagnosed, we sat down as a family and decided we would go through this journey together and we would take advantage of every support program offered to help us get through and heal once it was over,” Tammy said.

They took counselling sessions, she participated in many wellness classes and joined a support group for young women with breast cancer. It’s because of these donor-funded support networks that Tammy was able to face her post-cancer life with positivity and intentional gratitude.

It’s thanks to the selfless commitment of donors that support programs are available, not just to Manitobans on a cancer journey, but also for their loved ones.

Today, Tammy is dedicated to giving back to other women affected by cancer through mentorship, advocacy, sharing her story, and leading the Chemo Savvy dragon boat team – a group of nearly 100 breast cancer survivors committed to supporting each other and leading healthy lifestyles.

“If I hadn’t taken part in the emotional support programs offered thanks to donor support, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I’d still be dealing with the trauma of my cancer diagnosis and not living my life to the fullest.”

You are making new treatments available to Manitobans

Thanks to donors like you, Shelley Schultz is living her life to the fullest eight years after hearing she had just six months to live.

It was in the fall of 2014 that the Schultz family’s world was turned upside down. Shelley was experiencing what she thought was a migraine. This was not unusual for her as she had suffered from them for years. But this time it was persistent and her family was concerned.

After a few very stressful and excruciating days with no improvement Shelley’s husband Al brought her to the hospital. Upon arrival it was quickly determined that the cause of Shelley’s migraine was a tumour at the base of her brain.

She needed surgery immediately to save her life.

“I was at work when I noticed my dad had called and left a voicemail,” said Shelley’s daughter Kari. “It was extremely rare for my dad to call me at work. I could hear in my father’s voice how upset he was. I listened in shock as he said that my mom was in the hospital about to receive life-saving surgery.”

It wasn’t long after her surgery that Shelley was diagnosed with lung cancer that had metastasized to the base of her brain. The Schultz family received the news that Shelley had a projected life span of three to six months. They were devastated, but didn’t give up hope.

Thanks to donor funded genetic testing, it was determined that Shelley had a gene mutation contributing to the growth of her cancer. This made her eligible to receive a recently approved therapy and later join a clinical trial at CancerCare Manitoba. Clinical trials allow for tomorrows treatments today, and access to them are essential for Manitobans like Shelley to receive the very latest cancer therapies. This would not be possible without the generosity of donors, like you.

“It was really exciting to hear that there was a new treatment that could potentially work for my mom,” said Kari. “It gave us some hope for the future.”

Shelley started on the targeted therapy immediately and after a couple of months, the doctors were happy to see the tumours on her brain and lungs were no longer growing.

Today, nearly eight years after the overwhelming prognosis of three to six months, Shelley is on an updated version of her targeted therapy that is even more effective in fighting her cancer with even fewer side effects. Her tumours have shrunk or remain stable and the time between scans has increased.

Today Shelley exercises daily, eats well and spends a lot of time with her five-year-old granddaughter Londyn. All of these things bring her joy and keep her feeling optimistic about the future.

Thanks to your support, Shelley has more tomorrows with her family. The entire Schultz family is grateful for your commitment to advancing research and clinical trials at CancerCare Manitoba.

Sean’s Story

It was only a month before Sean’s wedding, when life as he knew it changed forever.

Diagnosed with a rare form of aggressive, incurable thyroid cancer, the future now looked uncertain for Sean and his fiancé Aly.

Our donors generous past support helped fund the genetic testing that eventually led to Sean’s diagnosis.

Over the last two years doctors and scientists have been building infrastructure in the genomics lab to enable genetic testing at CancerCare Manitoba. They could not have done it without the help of our donors. The earlier patients are diagnosed, the better their chance at recovery – and donor-funded local testing helps speed their time to diagnosis.

In the fall of 2017, after qualifying for genetic testing, Sean learned that he carried the hereditary gene – MEN2A – which increased his chances of developing thyroid cancer.

Immediate surgery was recommended and within a few months Sean underwent a complete thyroidectomy. With the support of Aly, his family and friends, he seemingly made a full recovery and had one of the busiest years of his life. Preparing for a wedding, starting a new job and travelling the world, Sean was truly making the most of every day.

Then Sean’s life was once again turned upside down.

At his one-year follow up appointment, testing showed abnormal levels of calcitonin in his blood – a possible sign of thyroid cancer. Sean and Aly feared the worst. After undergoing more in-depth testing in June 2019, just over a month before his wedding, doctors gave Sean the heartbreaking news that he had advanced cancer.

“We met with Dr. Gordon, and that was the day everything crumbled apart.”

Sean’s cancer was in his lymph nodes, chest, trachea, lungs and liver. It was rare. It was aggressive. And there was no cure. The only treatment available could slow the cancer, but it would still progress. With a prognosis of one to four years, Sean knew he had to live his life to its fullest. His wedding to Aly proceeded 36 days after his diagnosis and is one of the happiest days of his life.

Sean’s cancer journey then took a turn in the right direction.

He was accepted into a clinical trial for a therapy that would specifically target the MEN2A genes causing his cancer. Incredibly, within four months of starting on the trial the tumours in Sean’s body had shrunk significantly, showcasing the tremendous power of treatments based on an individual’s genetic profile.

Our donors loyal support, which enabled Sean to be tested for this rare gene mutation at CancerCare Manitoba, has made a real difference.

The next, critical step in improving and expanding genomic testing for Manitobans requires support from donors like YOU . Processing genome sequences requires a tremendous amount of computer processing power – more than humans could ever do.

Gifts from donors will fund the $64,000 data platform that will enable research scientists to analyze a wider variety of genomic sequences and to do so much more quickly.

Doctors will use the software on an almost daily basis as they work to uncover rare and abnormal gene sequences. This data will help them identify appropriate cancer treatments and develop new therapies.

You can help expand genomic testing in Manitoba and help save lives.

Expanding the genomic testing program will allow more patients to be provided with treatments directly linked to their individual genetic circumstances – improving patient outcomes and ultimately saving lives.

Today Sean is focused on living his life to the fullest. He continues to undergo regular scans and bloodwork to monitor the cancer in his body. On his last scan, the cancer cells were nearly undetectable.

While this is promising news, it’s time-limited.

Eventually Sean’s body will become immune to the cancer therapy treatments and start to fight back. His levels of calcitonin will increase. The cancer will return.

Your gift today will ensure advancements in genomics research continue at CancerCare Manitoba so there will be another option available in the future for Sean, and for other Manitobans like him.

Being diagnosed with cancer has changed Sean’s outlook on life. The small things don’t matter as much anymore and he’s focused on what’s most important – making the best of every day along with his supportive wife Aly and his loved ones.

Please consider making a donation today in support of advancing research in Manitoba, and in support of Manitobans living with cancer like Sean.

Your Generosity will Help Manitobans Like Larry Find Their Perfect Match

“As Dr. Houston compassionately painted the picture of my cancer and proposed treatment I started to cry,” said Larry. “It was overwhelming to learn I had blood cancer.”

Thanks to your ongoing support, doctors at CancerCare Manitoba are engaged in research to develop advancements in care for blood cancers like Larry’s.

Finding a perfect donor for bone marrow transplants is essential to ensuring the best possible patient outcomes. Larry, who had a bone marrow transplant in the spring to help treat his acute myeloid leukemia (AML), knows the importance of increasing opportunities to find the best possible match, after searching in Canada, the UK, and as far away as India.

Last fall, Larry began feeling unwell and continuously tired, so he visited his family doctor who took his vitals and ordered blood tests. “The apprehension began when my doctor called and said I need to see you ASAP.”

After undergoing more tests and providing a sample of his bone marrow, Larry eventually found himself feeling overwhelmed in Dr Houston’s office. She’s one of the CancerCare doctors actively engaged in researching blood disorders, thanks to your past gifts. After several cycles of chemotherapy Larry’s condition improved enough to begin the search for a bone marrow donor. Larry’s two children were both determined to be only 50% matches. Since the strenuous search across the world for a donor with a better match was unsuccessful, Larry’s son began the process of donating his bone marrow to help save his father’s life.

Your generous support has allowed Dr. Houston and other scientists at the CancerCare Manitoba Research Institute to begin establishing a bone marrow registry. A registry that will ultimately lead to better outcomes not just for Manitobans like Larry, but for Canadians from across the country.

“Participation in a national registry allows us to study how people respond to treatment across Canada,” says Dr. Houston. “Over time we can modify and improve treatments in an informed way based on this new evidence.”

In March, Larry received his bone marrow transplant and began his recovery. He credits many people involved in his care with his progress, including his prayer group, doctors, dietician, nurses, pharmacists, and you as donors. “CCMB helped us through some rough patches. I couldn’t ask for a better team. They helped lift my spirit and encouraged me to have a positive mindset which I think helped me recover.”

“As an immigrant myself, I recognize the need for a robust and diversified bank of bone marrow donors. It is important that our registries and tumour banks represent our population to help ensure the best possible outcome for all patients like me.”

Larry is now in remission thanks to your support of local cancer research. His latest report shows that his son’s bone marrow was successful and is helping his body make new blood cells. Larry is feeling stronger and has even been hitting the golf course again. He and his entire family are grateful to you for your dedication to local research and patient care.

Since the publishing of the Impact Report, Larry and his family received the devasting news that his cancer has returned. Your continued support of research at CancerCare Manitoba will help ensure that all Manitobans like Larry have access to the best treatments available.

Thanks to you, Danica’s future is bright

The past year has demonstrated just how unpredictable life can be. Through all the changes and adversity, what has remained constant is your commitment to helping people affected by cancer.

People like Danica Marincil who has benefitted tremendously from your kindness and generosity. Danica knows the cruel reality of a cancer diagnosis and the uncertainty it brings all too well. Her world was turned upside down last March when she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Just 27 at the time, she was living life to its fullest. Working in a great job she loved, married for three years to her adoring husband and hoping to start the family she’d always dreamed of.

An active person who considered herself very healthy, Danica’s body began to gradually fail her. She was tired, had little appetite and was losing weight. Initially diagnosed with low iron, Danica took supplements for months to boost it. But despite this, she was feeling worse and more symptoms were developing.

“I put my hand in my turtleneck and I felt a lump on the left-hand side of my collarbone,” remembers Danica. “An x-ray showed a 10 cm tumour across my chest which caused my lung to collapse. The doctor told me the unthinkable … I had cancer.”

Danica would start treatment immediately at CancerCare Manitoba and require six rounds of chemotherapy over six months. A wise young woman, she appreciates your support of research helped cure her.

“The science behind my treatment … it wouldn’t have been possible without your donations,” says Danica.

As if cancer itself wasn’t a terrifying reality for this young woman, Danica endured it during the early months of the pandemic. Cocooning herself to stay safe was a must, but so incredibly hard.

“All I remember my oncologist telling me is I had to go home and isolate,” says Danica. “I went from freely doing what I wanted to not
leaving the house. I desperately needed family and friends to give me a hug and tell me I’d be ok. But they couldn’t because of COVID, and it was heartbreaking.”

Danica’s treatment knocked her down, beating at her young body in ways she couldn’t have imagined. And the effect on her psyche was profound. She thought about her own mortality and the scary “what-ifs” that might lie ahead. Fortunately, Danica was able to access counselling to help navigate her thoughts and feelings. She is so thankful your donations help fund CancerCare’s adolescent and young adult psychosocial program.

Amazingly, Danica is now in remission. She is grateful for her recovery and to you for your investment in cancer care in our province. Your support has given her the most precious gifts – her health and a bright future.

Danica is fully embracing her second chance at life, taking nothing for granted. She is rebuilding herself in the wake of her cancer experience and focused on her biggest dream, starting a family with her husband. She is thankful for your compassion and kindness when she needed it the most.

“Every donation you make helps people like me. Truly, thank you isn’t enough to express my appreciation.” – Danica

Your Support Provides New Treatments for Manitoba’s Youngest Patients with Cancer

Everything known about how to cure children with cancer has been learned from decades of research. Donor supported pediatric clinical research at CancerCare Manitoba provides access to state-of-the-art treatment for children with cancer. Children like Alyvia.

At the tender age of two, Alyvia was diagnosed with an aggressive, inoperable brain tumour after her parents noticed a regression in her gross motor skills.

Over a period of just a couple of months, Alyvia went from being a very active toddler to being unsteady and holding onto walls as she walked. They knew something wasn’t right with their little girl.

What followed was a four-month hospital stay that included multiple surgeries to attempt to relieve the pressure on her brain followed by six weeks of chemotherapy to try and shrink her tumour. Alyvia’s parents learned the devasting news that the chemotherapy she was enduring wasn’t working and that they were quickly running out of time.

Donor investments in research gave Alyvia access to a life-saving clinical trial.

Alyvia’s oncology team at CancerCare Manitoba secured a new targeted therapy treatment for her through a clinical trial available for pediatric patients with her particular type of cancer that was currently in the clinical trial stages. She was able to begin treatment at a critical time in her cancer journey. After only a week of receiving treatment, Alyvia had improved so significantly that she was able to be released from the hospital.

While at home, Alyvia continued with her treatment and made significant progress. As her tumour began to shrink, she had to relearn many of the things she knew how to do before her diagnosis such as eating and learning to walk again. Through ongoing physical and occupational therapy, hard work and a lot of determination, Alyvia is flourishing today.

Now five years old, she continues with daily treatment and her tumour has almost vanished thanks to your generous support. She’s taking hip-hop dance classes and loves running around outside with her friends. Her parents lovingly describe her as an entertainer who loves telling jokes and being the center of attention.

“We never would have believed this was possible.”

While she is too young to understand the impact your donations have had, her parents are forever grateful for the opportunity they’ve been given to access life-saving treatments for their daughter.

Thanks solely to the support of donors like you and her CancerCare Manitoba oncology team, pediatric
clinical trials are making a difference for Alyvia and other Manitoban children affected by cancer.

Thanks to you, Carole has more tomorrows with her loved ones

In the fall of 2020, Carole was diagnosed with lung cancer. Her initial reaction was a complete shock. She had recently retired after a successful 30-year career, and now a year later she was facing a life-altering cancer diagnosis.

It wasn’t long after her treatment began that Carole understood the importance of donors like you. With any cancer diagnosis comes uncertainty about what the future holds. Donor-funded research is creating new treatment opportunities and access to clinical trials for Manitobans like Carole.

Carole’s initial treatment plan entailed twelve weeks of chemotherapy and immunotherapy. It was successful in shrinking the tumour on her lung but her cancer journey was far from over. She received the disappointing and frightening news the cancer in her lymph nodes was growing and further treatment was required.

Because of your generous support, Carole was given another treatment option.

After undergoing a series of genomic tests developed in part through donor contributions, it was confirmed that Carole’s cancer carried a rare gene mutation that made her eligible to participate in an international clinical trial led locally by CancerCare Manitoba medical oncologist and Director of Precision Medicine and Advanced Therapeutics, Dr Shantanu Banerji.

Carole was the first person in Canada to join the trial, meaning she would receive customized targeted therapy to specifically treat her type of cancer with very minor side effects. “We have learned through research that there are many rare mutations in lung cancer for which targeted therapies can be helpful,” said Dr Banerji.

Clinical trials are a way for Manitobans like Carole, to receive tomorrow’s treatments today.

Dr Banerji and other scientists at the CancerCare Manitoba Research Institute are engaged in research that is key to delivering targeted therapies to patients with cancer. “By developing a therapeutic plan based on the individual biology of a person’s cancer, it allows us to treat it in a very precise way, resulting in better outcomes and improved quality of life for the patient.”

A few months after starting the trial Carole went for a scan and received the wonderful news that the cancer in her body was shrinking. Today, while she continues with regular visits to CancerCare Manitoba and remains on a targeted treatment plan, she is living her life to the fullest. An advocate for cancer research, Carole is sharing her story and using her voice to create awareness of the importance of investing in science, right here at home, so more Manitobans like her can have more tomorrows with their loved ones.

“I’m living proof that donor investment in science and clinical trials has positive results.” -Carole

Routine Test Leads to Unexpected Cancer Diagnosis

Carrie is a vibrant young woman in her early 30s who never imagined a routine test would result in a cancer diagnosis.

In January of 2020, Carrie had her first appointment with a new physician. Carrie’s new doctor wanted to get a good understanding of her patient and completed a full physical including a PAP test (Carrie’s first in about 3-4 years).

What happened next was unexpected.

Two weeks later, Carrie received an evening phone call from her doctor scheduling her in for the following morning. Carrie grew a little concerned as she noticed that her appointment was outside of the clinic’s operating hours. What could be so important as to warrant a next day, before-hours appointment?

After a somewhat sleepless night, Carrie arrived at her doctor’s office and promptly parked the car. As Carrie took a moment to gather her thoughts, she noticed her doctor was waiting for her at the office’s door. This was the moment Carrie realized something serious was going on. After a brief discussion about her pelvic health, Carrie received the very unexpected news that her PAP test had shown she had cancer. How could this happen? Carrie was young, healthy and had no symptoms. How could a simple test change her world so dramatically?

Weeks of tests and biopsies working with CancerCare Manitoba Gynecological Oncologists followed. It was a hard reality for Carrie because her appointments were in the same building she had been in five years earlier while her father battled kidney cancer. Carrie couldn’t believe that she was back but this time it was her facing the uncertainty of cancer.

It was determined that Carrie had Adenocarcinoma, a form of cervical cancer. Tests showed signs that Carrie’s cancer was likely Stage 1. A hysterectomy surgery was scheduled and Carrie was told that the hysterectomy should cure her cancer.

Surgery was a daunting prospect for Carrie, the pandemic meant she would have to go in and recover without the physical aid of family and friends. However, Carrie was determined to make it work. Unfortunately, the surgery revealed more concerns and Carrie’s cancer was now considered to be Stage 2B and she would begin radiation and chemotherapy treatments in four to six weeks.

Carrie started radiation and chemotherapy in the middle of June. Her last chemo treatment was completed a day after her 34th birthday and radiation a few days later. Throughout her treatment, Carrie appreciated the help of a mentor from the Breast and Gyne Centre of Hope.

On October 29, 2021, Carrie received the news that her treatment was successful, and that she was cancer-free. Today, Carrie shares her story as an opportunity to let others know how important it is to get checked regularly. She knows she might not be alive if it wasn’t for a routine test.

Help us answer Hargun’s question: ‘Why?’

Hargun is a bright-eyed, joyful, funny, and determined little girl. She loves to read, draw pictures and play with her cousins.

Last fall, her family’s life was turned upside down after they received a shocking diagnosis no parent is ever prepared to hear. Only six years old at the time, Hargun was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

In one statement the unthinkable became their world: ‘your daughter has cancer’. Hargun began treatment immediately. Within the first day of her diagnosis, her doctor at CancerCare Manitoba explained there was an opportunity for her to participate in a clinical trial, right here in Manitoba, giving her access to the newest possible treatment. Her parents are grateful to generous donors to the Foundation that fund research and access to clinical trials for Hargun and other children like her.

After ten days, Hargun was about to leave the hospital and continue her long treatment journey from home when her parents noticed she had a fever. Things escalated quickly from there and within 24 hours Hargun had become severely ill with sepsis.

She needed immediate, life-saving care.

She was moved into the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and put on a ventilator the next day. Hargun spent the next five weeks in the ICU. Her parents describe this as ‘the scariest days of our lives’. At the time the doctors didn’t how long Hargun would be on the ventilator. A week, two months, six months? No one knew what lay ahead. Through all of it, her mom and dad never left her side.

Hargun finally started to slowly improve and by the end of January she was strong enough to leave the hospital and continue her treatment from home. Still, her journey with cancer was far from over.

Today, Hargun takes daily chemotherapy medication and has monthly visits to the hospital for intravenous medication. She also has regular visits for spinal taps which allows doctors to analyze and monitor her progress. She has good days and hard days as she continues on her path to becoming free of cancer and completing her treatment in February 2023.

Despite the tremendous challenges associated with battling cancer, Hargun has remained tough through it all, inspiring her family and others to be strong with her.

You can help doctors and scientists find answers by donating today. When you donate to CancerCare Manitoba Foundation, you make an incredible difference for cancer patients like Hargun and their families. Your support provides critical funding to operate a leading-edge cancer research centre that helps recruit the best and brightest cancer specialists to Manitoba.

You Helped Matt and Madison’s Love Story Grow

Three years ago, we introduced you, our generous community of donors, to Matt and Madison Bell and their inspiring love story. And you responded by providing them with hope for a future together.

Now 33, Matt has been battling skin cancer since he was 25. Together with his wife Madison, they have been through periods where no treatment options were available. Matt lived with an incurable cancer diagnosis and together they lived as happily as they could, in three-month increments between tests.

Eventually, thanks to the generosity of people like you, new drugs became available because of a successful clinical trial run right here in Manitoba.

When we first introduced you to Matt and Madison, they had recently celebrated a major milestone, their wedding. They were cautiously dreaming about adventures they would have the following summer, not really knowing what the future would bring in their journey with cancer.

Fortunately, you were by their side along with CancerCare Manitoba’s dedicated oncology team.Your generous support funds research and clinical trials that have now given Matt and Madison more hope for the future than ever before.

Today, Matt is part of a targeted therapy treatment program that is working very well. It is shrinking the active cancer in his body and preventing it from growing and spreading. And, there are no side effects, allowing Matt to live as he likes to say ‘like a normal person in their 30s, which is pretty exciting’.

Most exciting of all is the newest addition to their family. After being told they would likely never have children due to the trauma Matt’s body has been put through, the couple was amazed to find out Madison was pregnant! Benjamin, now eight months old, is a miracle and has defied every odd to be here today.

“Having been self-employed for so long this is the first time in 10 years, I now have a boss”, laughs Matt. “Ben is in charge of both of us.” Benjamin is a strong, healthy, and joyful baby. It’s easy to see the happiness he brings to his parents’ lives. They are so grateful.

For as long as they can remember, Matt and Madison dreamed of living a normal life. Today, they are one step closer, thanks to you. Cancer has given them perspective on what’s important and they have always tried to live in the moment. Now, thanks to Matt’s newest treatment and the addition of Benjamin to their lives, they are hopeful and excited to be planning for the future.

“Ben has given us so much hope, so many reasons to live,” says Madison. “We imagine him on his first day of kindergarten or chasing him down the ski hill. We dance together in the kitchen and think about dancing at his wedding.”

“It has consistently been about newer treatments and the next options for us. 

Thanks to our committed care team, a collective vision for research, and the generosity of donors, we found a treatment that has renewed our hope for the future.