Dr. Brad Nelson described how the $250,000 donation will be used for a 15-year plan to reduce ovarian cancer by 50 per cent. (Keili Bartlett / News staff)

B.C. woman donates $250,000 to ovarian cancer research for friends

Two of Patty Pitts’s friends passed away from the disease within a year

A new clinical trial to treat ovarian cancer is nearly ready to begin in Victoria after one woman donated $250,000.

Before two of her friends were diagnosed with the disease, Patricia Pitts told the crowd gathered in the BC Cancer Agency on Sept. 25 that she didn’t know much about ovarian cancer.

“I didn’t know that survival rates for ovarian cancer hadn’t improved for decades. I didn’t know how difficult it was to identify the symptoms. I didn’t know the awful and life-altering side effects of the disease and its treatments,” Pitts said.

She supported both Carole Lalonde and Marlene Palmer during their treatment, offering her time and friendship.

“Anyone who’s had to witness a loved one wrestle with cancer knows how difficult it is and how helpless it makes you feel,” Pitts said during her announcement.

So she decided to offer financial support as well. When her late aunt passed away last year, Pitts was left with an inheritance. The two women had agreed that a significant portion would be used to establish a research fund in honour of their friends. Lalonde had hoped to make it to the event announcing the donation, but passed away on Aug. 21. Palmer passed away last December.

“I hope it will attract other donations so it grows to the point where [it can] make a big difference in the very expensive research required to offer more hope to women with ovarian cancer,” Pitts said.

READ MORE: Theft of wigs for kids who have cancer is ‘heartbreaking’: shop manager

In Canada, a woman is diagnosed with ovarian cancer every three and a half hours. Because of the disease’s ambiguous symptoms and often late diagnosis, 50 per cent of the women who are diagnosed die within five years. BC Cancer’s new Ovarian Cancer Research Program (OVCARE) hopes to reduce deaths from reproductive cancers by 50 per cent in the next 15 years.

“Today she’s turning that grief into good news for ovarian cancer patients in B.C. and around the world,” Dr. Brad Nelson said, adding that Pitts’s donation is critical to their research.

Nelson, a director at the BC Cancer Deeley Research Centre in Victoria, will be leading the immunotherapy team’s new clinical trial. He said their initial focus will be on prevention, specifically educating people about risk-preventing surgery of removing the ovaries. Then Nelson’s team will work on treatment by developing new trials.

“By combining better prevention, better treatments, that’s how we’re going to reach our 50 per cent goal,” Nelson said.

Funds like Pitts’s donation help go towards the expensive study and trial process. Of her donation, Nelson said the gift was “humanity at its best,” as she is now helping many more women who have been and will be diagnosed with the disease.

“Over the past year, I’ve learned how life can change in an instant,” Pitts said. “We need to embrace life while we can and do whatever means are available to us to improve it for others.”

READ AND WATCH MORE: Oak Bay paddle raises funds for kids with cancer

keili.bartlett@blackpress.ca


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

Dr. Andrew Atwell, Patricia Pitts and Dr. Brad Nelson announced the $250,000 donation that began BC Cancer’s Ovarian Cancer Research Program (OVCARE) on Sept . 25. (Keili Bartlett / News staff)

Patricia Pitts donated $250,000 to BC Cancer for ovarian cancer research after two close friends died in the last year. (Keili Bartlett / News staff)

Just Posted

UPDATE with VIDEO: Daughter calls for animal safety measures after fatal elk collision

“Safety studies and improvements to Highway 18 are vitally important”

TSB investigating the grounding of Nana Provider on Quadra

‘This was a wake-up call to the people on the inside passage,’ says area director

Tim Hortons drive-thru rejects mom and kids on bicycle

Car-free for years, Charity Millar ‘felt gross’ being denied service

‘Our culture is not a religion,’ Indigenous educator tells Nanaimo court in case of smudging at school

Mother also gave evidence Tuesday in B.C. Supreme Court, case continues Wednesday

Courtenay “geovangelist” teacher wins prestigious national award

Andrew Young won the 2019 Alex Trebek Medal for Geographic Literacy

B.C. politicians view supermodel’s transition journey on Transgender Day

Liberal MLA Jane Thornthwaite and New Democrat MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert appear in the documentary

New school name proposals unveiled for Alberni, Ucluelet

Board of education suggests new names, asks for public feedback

Tofino Bus closes bus depot in Port Alberni

Island-wide bus service switching to curbside pickup, drop-off, says parent company

Denman ferry cable to be replaced with plastic cable – for now

The first flattened steel strand cable is expected to be installed late summer 2020

Cyclist hit and seriously injured on TCH in Duncan Friday

Initial findings are that the cyclist rode across four lanes of traffic on the TCH

Witness sought after man found unconscious after altercation in downtown Courtenay

Police say this is not believed to be a random incident.

BC Ferries’ two new hybrid vessels set sail for B.C. from Romania

Two Island Class ferries to be in use by 2020

John Mann, singer and songwriter of group Spirit of the West dead at 57

Mann died peacefully in Vancouver on Wednesday from early onset Alzheimer’s

Most Read