Alex Fessler attempts a putt as Brian Christianson (left) and Gary Bearham (right) look on during the VJH Foundation Charity Classic at Predator Ridge Sunday afternoon.

Alex Fessler attempts a putt as Brian Christianson (left) and Gary Bearham (right) look on during the VJH Foundation Charity Classic at Predator Ridge Sunday afternoon.

Event tees up cancer centre work

Predator Ridge gala and tournament raises $126,000 for Vernon Jubilee Hospital

The community has aced efforts to enhance cancer care in the North Okanagan.

Expansion of the McMurtry-Baerg Cancer Centre is all set to begin, following the weekend’s Home Hardware Vernon Jubilee Hospital Foundation Charity Classic.

Going into the golf and gala event at Predator Ridge, $80,000 was needed for the $500,000 expansion and renovation.

Support and generosity was in full swing and the event successfully raised more than $126,000 – bringing an end to the cancer centre campaign.

“We should be seeing (workers) in there almost as we speak,” said Sue Beaudry, director of development with the VJH Foundation.

A consultation room (which is currently nonexistent), additional exam rooms and more space for chemotherapy stations (which will provide more privacy) will ensure the centre can adequately treat a growing number of cancer patients at the hospital.

“They are now doing three or four times the number of patients they did then (in 1998 when the centre opened),” explains Beaudry.

“It (expansion) was desperately needed.”

While unfortunately a number of those are younger patients in their 30s or 40s, the good news is that the outcomes are much better for many.

“There’s a lot of people who are living longer,” said Beaudry, adding that the expansion will provide longevity to the centre, which Vernon is lucky to have.

“We are very fortunate for a community this size to have a cancer centre at home.”

Cancer care will continue while work is underway – first starting in the old ICU/cardiac care, then moving patients into that new area while the existing space is renovated.

While work is underway, the organizing committee of the charity classic will already be prepping for next year’s event, in support of another to-be-determined need at the hospital.

This year’s event was a resounding success, with  245 people taking in the gala Saturday evening on the driving range and another 132 golfers swinging in support of the cause Sunday.

There was also moving words from Doreen Blackwood (a nurse in the cancer centre), Dr. Ed Hardy and Dr. Michael Humphreys about the needs of local cancer patients.

Auctioneer Kevin Rothwell also helped raise $10,300 for the Cancer Centre patient comfort fund, which helps out cancer patients in a variety of ways, including covering the cost of very expensive anti-nausea drugs.

Former LPGA pro A.J. Eathorne hosted the awards ceremony, announcing National Bank Financial as the 2012 Corporate Team.