Today, Premier Christy Clark, officially opened the BC Cancer Agency Centre for the North, which will provide patients with the latest care and treatment closer to home beginning Nov. 1.
"Dealing with a cancer diagnosis can be hard to manage at the best of times and being away from your family can make it harder," said Premier Clark. "Today's opening is a significant milestone for Northern BC because we can now provide cancer treatment closer to home. Patients in this region can be surrounded by the support of their friends and families so they can focus on a successful recovery."
To ensure patients will receive the latest innovations in cancer care treatment, the centre is outfitted with state-of-the-art medical equipment, including two linear accelerators that will provide radiation therapy for the first time in northern BC. Having this service available in Prince George will reduce cost and travel time for northerners, and offer services closer to home for patients and to their support network. The centre also will offer chemotherapy treatment, patient and family counselling, and nutrition support, among other cancer services.
"Northerners have been waiting decades for a cancer centre," said Shirley Bond, Prince George-Valemount MLA. "The opening today means we will finally be able to have expanded cancer-care options closer to home. I am so grateful that patients will be able to be surrounded by their families and friends as they wage their battle with cancer. This project has been one of my personal priorities as an MLA and I am thrilled that today has finally arrived."
At a total cost of $91.5 million, the 5,000-square-metre (54,000-square-foot) BC Cancer Agency Centre for the North is part of the BC government's $106-million Northern Cancer Control Strategy to improve cancer care throughout the north.
"Last year, I was diagnosed with stage 4 carcinoma of the lymph glands on the right side of my neck and underwent two months of extensive radiation and chemotherapies in Vancouver," said Peter Zimmer from Prince George who is now cancer free. "I celebrate the opening of the centre as it will provide local treatment for those of us who continue to live with the reality and the consequences of cancer."
The BC Cancer Agency Centre for the North also has a many unique green features, including a 'living roof' of local plants that will capture rainwater and provide insulation. The Centre for the North is the sixth BC Cancer Agency Centre in the province. "We're thrilled to open our sixth cancer centre in the province," said Dr. Max Coppes, President, BC Cancer Agency. "Along with bringing new services to the region, the BC Cancer Agency Centre for the North will also help provide support for the delivery of co-ordinated cancer care and research across the province."
As a component of the BC Cancer Agency's provincial cancer-control system for care and research, the centre will serve more than 750 patients a year and will work closely with community cancer clinics across the region.