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

Island pickleball players perfectly prepared

Top-notch action at Fuller Lake Park in singles, doubles and mixed doubles

Dormant Chemainus Foods building soon to be revived

Market expected to bring new life to the downtown core

Ladysmith Arts Council leads effort to establish Vancouver Island as an arts powerhouse

Terry O’Reilly will be the keynote speaker during an interactive live webcast on August 8 at 6pm

Oyster Bay Microtel solidifies reputation as a Vancouver Island destination

The Microtel is focused on continuing to build their reputation over the summer

Charity the name of the game for Crofton slo-pitch tournament participants

Crofton Fire Department event benefits three recipients

VIDEO: B.C. MLA Michelle Stilwell takes first steps in nearly 30 years

‘It actually felt like walking. It’s been 27 years… but it felt realistic to me’

Taekwondo instructor, 21, identified as B.C. bat rabies victim

Nick Major, 21, an instructor at Cascadia Martial Arts in Parksville

Science expedition to Canada’s largest underwater volcano departs Vancouver Island

Crews prepared for a two-week research mission to the Explorer Seamount

B.C. shipyard to get one-third of $1.5 billion frigate-repair contract

The federal government has promised to invest $7.5 billion to maintain the 12 frigates

Anglican Church to review governance structure after same-sex marriage change fails

Some say the current system to change doctrine gives too much voting power to a smaller class of bishops

B.C. adding fast-charge stations for electric highway trips

Okanagan, Vancouver Island, Kootenay stations ready for use

15-year-old with imitation gun caused ‘dynamic’ scene at Nanaimo mall

No one was harmed in Monday’s incident, say Nanaimo RCMP

Worried about bats? Here’s what to do if you come across one in B.C.

Bat expert with the BC Community Bat Program urges caution around the small creatures

Vancouver Island mom says she will go to court overseas to try to get daughter back

Tasha Brown says her estranged wife abducted their daughter Kaydance Etchells in 2016

Most Read