Crystal Gala tames the dragon

Fundraising efforts translate into real changes in how women are diagnosed and treated for breast cancer

I would like to speak on behalf of the Board of Trustees and staff of the Fraser Valley Health Care Foundation.

As many of you know, in 2007 the Fraser Valley Health Care Foundation, in partnership with the BC Cancer Foundation, was focused on raising $7.5 million for the new Abbotsford Regional Hospital and Cancer Centre.

What you may not know is that our very first Lead Gift came from the Crystal Gala Foundation who made a significant pledge of $500,000 to our Campaign for Health Care Excellence.

Their generous commitment resulted in the official naming of the Crystal Gala Breast Health Unit and ensured that our hospital was outfitted with not one, but two digital mammography machines; one within the Crystal Gala Breast Health Unit that is used for breast screening, and one located in the Medical Imaging department that is used for more in depth diagnostic testing.

Breast Health in our community has benefitted significantly from the replacement of analog screening with the faster, more advanced digital screening process which ultimately improves patient care by shortening timeframes for exams and diagnosis.

In 2009, the Crystal Gala Foundation, within reach of their initial goal, proudly announced that they would be doubling their pledge bringing their overall commitment to an incredible $1,000,000. To date they have already given the Fraser Valley Health Care Foundation $625,000.

This new clinic operates 3 days a week and allows for both physician and self-referrals. It was created to ‘fast track’ patients with abnormal screening results through diagnostic tests such as mammograms, ultrasounds and biopsies. I know, personally, that having to wait weeks or months for these tests and their results can cause additional – and often unnecessary — stress and anxiety. The goal of this new clinic is to navigate patients through all of their testing within a 21-day period.

Initial projections estimated that over a one-year period 1,100 patients would use this clinic. However, since opening on May 31, 2011 more than 800 patients have been seen; the youngest was 14; the oldest was 98; four were male; the majority of these patients received all of their testing within 6 days; and in the short, 4.5 month period since the clinic started, 44 cases of breast cancer have been diagnosed.

The hard work and extreme dedication of the amazing women who make up the Crystal Gala Foundation, along with their generous sponsors and everyone who attends this event have made this all a reality.

People often use the words fight and battle when speaking of breast cancer. I liken cancer to a dragon and, on behalf of the 12,000 patients who will visit the Crystal Gala Breast Health Unit this year, thank you for your role in Taming the Dragon!

Vicki Raw

Executive Director

Fraser Valley Health Care Foundation