B.C. cancer survivor raises $14,000 for Surrey cancer centre chemotherapy suite

Click to play video: 'Local cancer patient holds fundraiser'
Local cancer patient holds fundraiser
Catherine Perka was diagnosed back in 2019 with stage 3 colorectal cancer. To celebrate the end of her treatment journey, Catherine and her husband Dan decided to hold a fundraiser to help give back to the place she had spent many hours – Feb 3, 2023

A woman from Surrey, B.C., who recently finished her cancer treatment, has raised thousands of dollars for the an expansion of Surrey’s cancer centre’s chemotherapy suite.

Read more: Surrey moves closer to a new hospital and BC Cancer Centre

Catherine Perka was just 32 years old, newly married and excited to start a family when she was diagnosed with Stage 3 colorectal cancer in 2019.

“It was only four months after our wedding that I started to get symptoms,” Catherine told Global News.

“It took about six months until my diagnosis. Then I was thrown into the world of appointments, treatments and surgeries.”

She said it was difficult to get her diagnosis as colorectal cancer is not common for people her age and she previously had a clean bill of health. Doctors originally looked at her symptoms, including severe rectal bleeding and extreme bloating, as not cancer symptoms.

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“After pushing and pushing, including going to the emergency room, I was finally able to see a gastroenterologist but that appointment still took five months to get,” Catherine said.

“Finally, when I had the appointment, the doctor diagnosed me on the spot.”

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Over the next few years, Catherine was able to follow her treatment plan. She said her scans have been clean for two years and nine months. To be officially deemed in remission, patients need to have five years of clean scans.

Ahead of World Cancer day on Saturday, Catherine is sharing her story to inspire others both in their recovery and to give back to the community. She also highlights the importance of having quick access to life-saving medical treatments.

Read more: Cancer survival rates higher when detected at earlier stages: StatCan study

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She said after her treatment, the experience opened her eyes to just how busy Surrey’s chemo suite is.

Knowing firsthand the importance that expedited treatment has on recovery both physically and mentally, Catherine and her husband Dan decided to take action.

“The minute you walk in the doors at BC Cancer, you can really tell they care. They care about your loved one and they cared about my wife,” Catherine’s husband Dan told Global News.

“They treated her like she was their own family. It made things a lot more comforting.”

Click to play video: 'Cancer Awareness Day'
Cancer Awareness Day

The couple ended up organizing a charity pub night to help raise funds to give back to the centre.

“We raised just over $14,000 at the event. We were so blown away by all the support. It was very humbling,” she said.

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According to the BC Cancer Foundation, the funds raised will add more chairs to the existing chemo suite.

“It’s going to support expanding the existing chemotherapy suit at the BC Cancer Centre in Surrey to accommodate ten new chemotherapy chairs,” BC Cancer Foundation Fraser Valley executive director Kristina Lebed said.

“This is significant because it allows us to provide an additional 900 infusions a month.”

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B.C. cancer patient frustrated by health-care system delays


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