Myeloma Stroll for a Cure to benefit the Hematology Research and Clinical Trials Unit at VGH

Francesca Plaster presents event proceeds to Dr. Kevin Song and
Dr. Shepherd, Department of Hematology at VGH.

On September 23, 2012, hundreds of myeloma patients, family members and supporters will take part in the second Annual Stroll for a Cure to raise money in support of Multiple Myeloma Research at the Hematology Research and Clinical Trials Unit (HRCTU) at VGH.

"We want VGH to be on the cutting edge of myeloma research," says event organizer and the founder of Vancouver Myeloma, Francesca Plaster. "With the advent of new drugs people with blood diseases such as myeloma are living longer. The future is looking brighter. We need patients and their families to get behind the exciting research the hospital is doing."

Francesca is right. The HRCTU is very successful and active with 76 trials conducted to date – 11 in the last year alone. It's considered the hub of some of the most exciting multi-centre clinical trial research worldwide.

"Research has never been so important," says Francesca. "More people are being diagnosed with myeloma, including more young people.

And yet, it's still a little-known blood cancer. We want to help increase awareness as well as raise money for the HRCTU."

Last year, the 5 km event raised $22,600 for the Unit and this year Francesca has set an ambitious goal of $50,000.

Every year in B.C. there are approximately 2,000 new adult cases of blood cancers and 4,000 new adult cases of thrombosis (abnormal or excessive blood clotting). The HRCTU at VGH provides patients with the opportunity to participate in clinical trials and early access to the latest drugs and treatments. The HRCTU has played a major role in the development of new therapies for multiple myeloma, one of the most common blood cancers seen in B.C. These new therapies have extended the lives of patients with myeloma by years in many cases.

The second annual Stroll for a Cure to be held at LaFarge Lake, City Centre Park, Coquitlam.

Matters of the heart: Celebrating a new breakthrough in cardiology

Valory Craske was always short of breath. She became so fatigued she found it hard to even leave her home.

The once-active 80-year-old was diagnosed with severe aortic stenosis. Her aortic valve – the main valve leading from the left side of the heart to the body – had stiffened and narrowed, making it difficult for her heart to pump blood through the valve and out into her body.

Severe aortic stenosis can ultimately be fatal if left untreated. And the only effective treatment has been to replace the valve by performing conventional open heart surgery. That is, until now!

Today, British Columbians are fortunate to be on the cutting edge of a new, minimally invasive treatment performed right here.

Transcatheter aortic valve implantation or TAVI requires only a small incision in the leg through which a catheter is inserted. The valve is threaded through this catheter and placed in the heart. This new procedure takes one or two hours and, unlike open heart surgery, there is no need to open the chest.

Valory was the first patient to undergo TAVI at VGH. The procedure was a success and she went home only two days after the new valve was implanted. Today, Valory is no longer short of breath. Her energy returned almost immediately and she has the experts at VGH to thank. To date, the TAVI team at VGH has completed 29 Tavi cases.

Health care professional leaves a lasting legacy for generations of patients

Enid, a retired microbiologist, was no stranger to Vancouver General Hospital (VGH). She had been treated by our caring medical teams for a variety of health issues over the years, including meningitis, pneumonia, and a blood clot in her leg.

"That's when I fell in love with VGH," Enid recalled. "I'm just so impressed with the care and compassion I've seen from everyone. I'm getting top notch care here."

In gratitude for the care she received, Enid supported the hospital during her lifetime. And she chose to create a lasting legacy by naming VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation as a beneficiary in her will, to help the hospital address future urgent needs.

"I don't know what they might need in the future, and I think that flexibility is important for the hospitals to be able to choose among their top priorities," said Enid.

Sadly, this remarkable woman passed away in 2011, but the impact of her legacy gift reaches into the future, helping to ensure generations of patients can receive the quality care Enid herself received.

New SPY Imaging technology reduces complications in breast cancer reconstruction surgery

There is new imaging technology planned for Breast Cancer reconstruction surgery at UBC Hospital called the SPY Imagining System allows surgeons to assess blood flow before, during and after surgery to ensure the skin has a healthy blood supply. Once it's in place at UBC Hospital, SPY will greatly reduce cases of necrosis – a complication that arises when the grafted tissue dies – from 30% to almost zero.

The UBC Hospital Program will be the first in Western Canada to acquire this amazing technology and Dr. Lennox and his team couldn't be happier. Studies at other centres have shown that in addition to decreased rates of complications, SPY-assisted breast reconstruction also results in fewer returns to surgery and shorter hospital stays. For patients, who risk complications such as non-healing wounds, this leading-edge technology is a huge benefit to their physical and emotional healing.

VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation is very grateful for the generosity of supporters who are helping us purchase SPY and keep our hospitals at the forefront of technology.

Provincial government announces plans for the building of a new mental health centre at VGH

It was an announcement eagerly anticipated by the psychiatric staff at VGH. Thousands of seriously ill mental health patients suffering from major depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, psychotic disorders and drug and alcohol addiction turn to VGH for help every year.

On April 10, 2012, Premier Christy Clark announced plans for the building of a new and much-needed mental health centre at VGH.

The announcement could not have come soon enough. The current building was never designed for treating people with mental illness and its deteriorating physical condition stands in stark contrast to the care that is provided within it.

"Patients and families consistently say the care our staff provides is second to none, but they wish for a better environment," says Dr. Soma Ganesan, head and medical director, Department of Psychiatry at VGH. "Environment contributes tremendously to healing, especially in times of crisis, and I'm so glad this project is moving forward. It's a dream come true."

Future patients will surely benefit from their new environment. The 90,000 square-foot facility will include light-filled rooms, calm spaces for reading and meditating, exercise facilities, private bedrooms and bathrooms and outdoor gardens.

"A new, presentable building will make our patients feel that they matter and that society cares," says Chantal Davies, registered psychiatric nurse. "I hope this is the beginning of much-needed attention to mental health in our province."

It's expected to take three years to design and build the new 100-bed centre. Caring supporters like you can get involved right now. Donations in support of the new mental health centre are deeply appreciated.

VGH surgeon and co-founder of the Ovarian Cancer Research Initiative honoured with a YWCA Woman of Distinction award
VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation is very proud to share the news that Dr. Dianne Miller, co-founder of the Ovarian Cancer Research Initiative (OvCaRe) was honoured with a YWCA Women of Distinction Award in the category of Science, Research, & Innovation on May 24.

A VGH surgeon, Dr. Miller was the catalyst for OvCaRe. In 2000, she called a meeting of all researchers and doctors involved in ovarian cancer and urged them to work together to improve outcomes for their patients. Today, OvCaRe is a multidisciplinary team of scientists, surgeons and oncologists making discoveries that are changing the way ovarian cancer is treated, giving women and their families new hope. This would not have been possible without Dr. Miller's leadership.

Dr. David Huntsman, a co-founder of OvCaRe, has this to say about Dr. Miller: "She is the greatest clinical and academic leader and mentor I have ever worked with." Dr. Miller is an inspiration to her patients, students, and colleagues – truly a Woman of Distinction.

Congratulations, Dr. Miller, and thank you!