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BC Cancer - Kelowna celebrates 20 years

On April 3, 1998, BC Cancer’s fourth treatment centre opened in Kelowna.
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BC Cancer – Kelowna (Sindi Ahluwalia Hawkins Centre) provides assessment and diagnostic services, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and supportive care, and works closely with Interior Health and community partners so patients can receive care closer to home. The centre provides treatment and support to patients in BC’s southern Interior including the Boundary, Cariboo, Kootenay, Okanagan, Similkameen and Thompson regions. 

In addition to providing care and support, the Kelowna centre is also home to an internationally recognized brachytherapy program – a cancer treatment where radioactive implants are inserted directly into the tissue. It is also helping to change the future of cancer care by participating in many clinical trials, and is partner to a unique and collaborative research program with the University of British Columbia – Okanagan and Interior Health. 

Recognizing the importance of including the patient voice in planning and managing centre operations, Kelowna was the first BC Cancer centre to appoint a patient advisor to represent and advise on patients’ views as part of the centre’s leadership team.

With many patients spread out across a vast region of the province, the Kelowna centre aims to minimize travel for patients to help them avoid the stress and strain of being away from home and their support networks during treatment. Rural and remote oncology consultation and follow-up clinics bring providers closer to patients, and enhanced telehealth capabilities allow staff to reach patients in rural areas.

To further reduce the burden of travel for patients and help meet growing demand, BC Cancer is expanding the provincial PET/CT program which includes installing a state-of-the-art PET/CT scanner at the Kelowna centre so patients – around 1,000 each year – will no longer need to travel to Vancouver for this important aspect of their cancer care. Positron emission tomography (PET)/computerized tomography (CT) delivers precise and detailed imaging that allows oncologists to offer the most appropriate diagnosis and treatment. The BC Cancer Foundation is currently raising $5 million to purchase a PET/CT scanner for the Kelowna centre.

Ultimately, it is the incredible staff and volunteers who make the Kelowna centre what it is. Its reputation in the community is directly attributed to the passion, dedication, caring and innovation showed by everyone at the centre. As we celebrate this milestone, please join us in thanking the amazing staff and volunteers for all that they do for our patients and their families and caregivers, and for one another.
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