KELOWNA - The BC Cancer Agency Centre for the Southern Interior received a new name today in honour of the late MLA Sindi Ahluwalia Hawkins.
The BC Cancer Agency Sindi Ahluwalia Hawkins Centre for the Southern Interior provides cancer patients and their families with the services they require close to home. A nurse and a lawyer, Ahluwalia Hawkins served as an MLA, as Minister of State for Intergovernmental Relations, Deputy Speaker and as Minister of Health Planning.
She championed for better cancer care and research throughout British Columbia before losing her seven-year battle with acute myeloid leukemia in 2010.
As a former nurse and someone who battled her own form of cancer, Ahluwalia Hawkins was sympathetic to the needs of other Interior cancer patients. She helped establish the Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant Outreach Program of B.C., a first of its kind in North America. This program provides outreach clinics at four locations outside of Vancouver to serve eligible patients who cannot conveniently travel to the Lower Mainland for appointments.
Ahluwalia Hawkins understood the economic and personal hardships cancer patients face when travelling to Vancouver for an extended period of time. As a Cabinet minister and MLA with the B.C. government, Ahluwalia Hawkins initiated a project to provide better housing options for cancer patients and their families. Now, thanks to a partnership between the Province, the Krall family and the VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation, leukemia/bone marrow and solid organ transplant patients needing to travel to Vancouver have access to housing services. The Patient Accommodation Pilot Project helps patients and their families find housing options for the duration of their time at Vancouver General Hospital.
Ahluwalia Hawkins, a proud Canadian who was of East Indian ethnic origin, understood the challenges that ethnic patients faced in finding a stem cell donor. She actively blogged and spoke at events throughout her illness to encourage more ethnically diverse donors to register with the national stem cell registry. She organized stem cell drives and launched the Thanks Mom drive in 2006.
Ahluwalia Hawkins worked with Canadian Blood Services to initiate the OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network in Canada, which matches donors to patients who require stem cell transplants. This program eliminates the need for people to travel to hospitals for a blood test, as a cheek swab can now be done from home and mailed to Canadian Blood Services.
Even after she was diagnosed, Ahluwalia Hawkins continued her efforts to raise over $20 million dollars for B.C. cancer care and research.
Cancer affects so many lives. One in three British Columbians will develop some form of cancer in their lifetime. According to the Canadian Cancer Society's 2010 Canadian Cancer Statistics report, B.C. men and women have the lowest overall mortality rate and incidence rate for all cancers in Canada.
British Columbians can be proud of our Province's cancer prevention efforts and treatment services. B.C. is internationally recognized for the advanced developments in many types of health research, particularly in cancer research, for which Ahluwalia Hawkins advocated so hard.
The BC Cancer Agency Sindi Ahluwalia Hawkins Centre for the Southern Interior will be a lasting tribute to her life and legacy. This centre provides a comprehensive cancer control system for all Southern Interior residents and is part of a provincewide network providing patients with the highest quality of care.
Norm Letnick, MLA For Kelowna-Lake Country -
"All of us are touched by cancer - personally, family members, friends, co-workers - and Sindi's courageous battle was an inspiration to everyone."
Lorraine McGrath, board member, Provincial Health Services Authority -
"Sindi was a passionate advocate for the delivery of the best care possible for people affected by cancer and her legacy represents our commitment to continue to be the leader in delivering the highest quality of cancer care in Canada."
Sandra Broughton, regional administrator, Sindi Ahluwalia Hawkins Centre for the Southern Interior, BC Cancer Agency -
"Sindi was always a champion for patients and families. It is an honour that our regional cancer centre is named after this courageous woman who publicly shared her cancer journey and in spirit will continue to share and be recognized at the BC Cancer Agency Sindi Ahluwalia Hawkins Centre for the Southern Interior."
Rupie Sachdeva, Sindi Ahluwalia Hawkins's sister -
"Sindi's passion for bettering cancer care was endless. She was a shining example, who touched so many lives with caring and compassion. Renaming the centre in honour of Sindi is a great tribute to everything she worked so hard for."
Manohar Singh Ahluwalia, Sindi Ahluwalia Hawkins's father -
"May this renamed centre inspire others and give them the courage and strength to continue to fight, just as my valiant girl, Sindi, did."
- Sindi Ahluwalia Hawkins helped organize many charity events, including the Lance Armstrong Tour of Courage in Vancouver and Kelowna.
- She launched the Sindi Hawkins & Friends Golf Tournament for Cancer Care, which has raised over $1 million to support projects directly improving cancer care for patients and research at the BC Cancer Agency.
- Ahluwalia Hawkins was a spokesperson for Canadian Blood Services and highlighted the need for more British Columbians to become blood donors.
- Ahluwalia Hawkins's dedication to improving the lives of those with cancer was recognized in 2008 with the BC Cancer Community Care Award.
- The BC Cancer Agency Sindi Ahluwalia Hawkins Centre for the Southern Interior serves a population of over 740,000.
- The centre has a staff complement of more than 220 health professionals ensuring Southern Interior families receive the highest quality cancer care possible without having to travel hours to Vancouver.
Find out more about the BC Cancer Agency Sindi Ahluwalia Hawkins Centre for the Southern Interior at: http://www.bccancer.bc.ca
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