Gerard Young knows too well the ins and outs of BC Cancer – Victoria
. It is where he received cancer treatment following his cancer diagnosis in late 2012. He admits that being referred to BC Cancer – Victoria was a scary proposition and having to go to Vancouver centre receive his PET/CT scans, a critical component of his care, created feelings of stress and anxiety.
“The word cancer is a scary word,” says Young “…and I will end up coming back to this cancer clinic for the rest of my days having tests and being monitored and stuff like that. And you know what? I’m not scared at all.”
A PET/CT scanner combines two different types of scans in one. It provides information on organ and tissue function (PET) and anatomical structure (CT), which means it can uncover the full extent of disease, aid in the accurate planning of radiation therapy, and determine the effectiveness of treatment by helping clinicians assess whether tumours have shrunk, grown, or spread to other parts of the body or have been eliminated. The scanner is an important tool for oncologists but can be a source of apprehension for patients who may be nervous about the results.
“For a lot of cancer patients, the anxiety of a test is stressful. Giving people the opportunity to just get on with their lives once the test is done… it’s a big deal. From a patient’s point of view, it’s a big deal for us,” says Young, who travelled to the Vancouver centre
three times over the course of his cancer journey.
By having a PET/CT suite, named the Gordon Heys Family PET/CT Suite, at BC Cancer – Victoria, reduces the burden of travel for patients and their loved ones. It allows patients or those who are facing an unknown diagnosis to remain closer to their communities and support network.
“It makes an amazing place even more amazing… it’s a good experience once you’re used to it,” says Young.
In addition to investment from the Ministry of Health
through the Provincial Health Services Authority
, Victoria’s PET/CT scanner was also made possible with the support of over 3,500 local donors including long-time BC Cancer Foundation donor Thrifty Foods and Gordon Heys, for whom the suite is named. At an announcement officially opening the suite, Gerard Young delivered a heartfelt message of thanks to the donors. “I’m glad I can come here and I want to thank the donors… not just the big donors, but the people who gave $25, $10 or whatever. I want to thank them because they are making a difference.”