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The Ride to Conquer Cancer® Presented by Wheaton Precious Metals benefiting the BC Cancer Foundation

Cancer Derailleurs by Harbour Air

 

All of us at Harbour Air who have participated in BC Cancer’s Ride to Conquer Cancer as a rider, volunteer and / or fundraiser are motivated by something deep and meaningful – for some, it is an opportunity for thanks, others hope and for many, a chance to honour.  I am very proud that we as a company and so many of you individually have stepped up in such a meaningful way with your time and effort over the last two years.

As many of you know, the money raised has been part of a broader effort to bring a new form of cancer treatment to North America.  We worked in parallel with another team called Daryl’s Heidelberg Hope to fund the initial clinical trials for a treatment that utilizes radiopharmaceuticals to specifically target malignant cancer cells.  In addition to surgery, three standard forms of cancer treatment are offered today: systemic therapy (chemo), radiation and immunotherapy – radiopharmaceuticals hold the potential to revolutionize systemic therapy by delivering drugs directly to the site of metastatic cancer, killing the cancer cells and saving the healthy tissue around them. 

Our goal as a company was to help at the very beginning of this process to increase awareness of this cutting-edge cancer treatment option and to raise the money to initiate clinical trials.  Your effort and our company’s effort was truly transformational, as not only did we assist in raising the initial $2 million dollars over the past two years, but that effort has been further leveraged by an additional $30 million!  Ground was recently broken at UBC for a new building in partnership with TRIUMF, BC Cancer and others that will be producing radioactive material for the continued research and eventual treatment utilizing this novel approach.  This is a great example of how passion, grief, grit, commitment and courage within a great corporate culture can be channelled constructively to make a difference.  This will improve outcomes for cancer patients in perpetuity - this will be a big part of our legacy at Harbour Air and for that, I am both humbled by and proud of all of you!

So you ask about 2019! What are we going to do next?  We are going to galvanize again for another transformational project – something that I have direct knowledge in from my own cancer journey.

“Cancer Derailleurs by Harbour Air” is committing as a team to raise approximately $500,000 to launch a three-year program called LOGIC (Liquid Biopsies of Gastrointestinal Cancers).  Biopsies are a standard diagnostic tool for most types of cancers, but can be invasive, are expensive to the medical system and cause considerable discomfort for patients.

Cancers shed small fragments of DNA that are detectible in an individual’s blood – this is known as circulating tumour or “ctDNA”.  The advancement of genetic sequencing technology has made it possible to extract this tumour DNA and study it to determine the mutation profile of a person’s cancer.  This holds huge promise as:

i)    an early warning signal for those with a predisposition to cancer or risk of reoccurrence;

ii)     a diagnostic tool;

iii)    a means to track a patient’s response to therapy; and

iv)  a very non-invasive (blood sample) and cost-effective alternative to traditional biopsies.

LOGIC will be led by our co-Captain Dr. Jonathan Loree, a medical oncologist with BC Cancer.  The notion of liquid biopsies is new and evolving very rapidly.  Although our focus will be specific to GI cancers, within BC Cancer alone, there are parallel initiatives going on for both breast and genitourinary cancers – this highlights the importance of trying to bring this technology to the clinic as it is broadly applicable to many tumour sites.  Personally, as there is always risk of my cancer reoccurring, this is an excellent means by which I can monitor my own situation painlessly on a regular basis.  I am currently doing this “off shore” as not yet approved in North America.

Dr. Loree and his team have developed a very detailed, three project blueprint aimed at trying to bring liquid biopsies to the clinic.  This is available to anyone interested in learning more.

I am hoping that as many participants as possible will find some way to participate in this year’s Ride to Conquer Cancer leading up to and on Ride weekend of August 24-25.  It takes a community to make these initiatives successful, and we are hoping to involve not only the employees of Harbour Air, but also our valued passengers and vendors that have made our business so successful. 

Many thanks to everyone for your consideration and involvement!

Regards, Greg McDougall (with co-Captains Jonathan, Alex, Randy, and Don) 

 

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