Cancer patient’s family donation to OWN.CANCER will support groundbreaking research


Partnering to ‘OWN.CANCER’

UCalgary, Alberta Cancer Foundation and Alberta Health Services announce $250-million fundraising campaign.

Calgary, AB – Construction on Canada’s largest, most ambitious and comprehensive stand-alone cancer centre is well underway. This is a once in a generation opportunity to transform treatment, research and patient care for this deadly disease. A new fundraising campaign launched today to help achieve the ambitious goals for the Calgary Cancer Centre so we can ‘OWN.CANCER’.

The $250-million OWN.CANCER campaign partners Alberta Health Services, Alberta Cancer Foundation and the University of Calgary to provide life-affirming supports for patients and their families, purchase cutting-edge equipment, and fund revolutionary research that will help the Calgary Cancer Centre achieve its full potential.

“The Calgary Cancer Centre is so much more than bricks and mortar. It’s an opportunity to expand our capacity to care for Albertans battling cancer, meet the growing demand for life saving cancer treatments and champion research. This state-of-the-art Cancer Centre will be home for our staff, physicians and researchers who are working hard to improve the lives of Albertans with cancer. More importantly, it will be a place for patients and their families to find comfort and care during what we know is an incredibly scary time. We couldn’t be more grateful for our philanthropic partners and their donors who are supporting this work.”

Dr. Verna Yiu, President and CEO, Alberta Health Services.

“The work we support can’t just be groundbreaking. It has to change lives. When you combine world-class talent, government funding and philanthropic support from the community we can achieve the very best things. Together we can OWN.CANCER.”

Dr. Chris Eagle, Chair of the Board of Trustees, Alberta Cancer Foundation

This 1.3-million square foot centre builds capacity to treat cancer patients and will more than double the space for clinical trials that is currently available in Calgary. It will also contain 110,000-square feet of dedicated research space. The anticipated opening date is fall 2023.

Over 200,000 Albertans are living with cancer, and one in two Albertans face a cancer diagnosis in their lifetime. The cancer centre is designed to be a world class facility housing international leaders in care and research that brings hope to cancer patients and their families through transformative change in the way care and treatment are provided.

“The University of Calgary is proud to partner with the Cancer Centre, deepening our already close relationship with the health care system and the community. Today, we are calling on the broader community to engage in this important campaign to help bring our innovations and discoveries to bear on prevention, treatment and care of cancer patients. Working together, we can break down barriers to ensure we have more cancer survivors than ever before.”

Dr. Ed McCauley, PhD, President and Vice-chancellor, University of Calgary

Located on the Foothills Medical Campus and next to the University of Calgary’s Foothills Campus, the cancer centre will offer an integrated approach to cancer care that can take full advantage of the university’s transdisciplinary approach to research. It is envisioned as a learning health system where we will learn from every patient, and build on that knowledge to improve treatment and care for each one that follows.

UCalgary, ACF and AHS are grateful to campaign committee volunteers and co-chairs – Heather Culbert, Deborah Yedlin and John Osler – for their commitment to help raise the $250 million to realize the vision of the cancer centre.

To be part of the transformative change in the way cancer is prevented, detected and treated join us at

Media inquiries

Sean Myers
Senior Communications Specialist
University of Calgary
[email protected]

Jennifer Green
Senior Communications Advisor
Alberta Health Services
[email protected]

Breanne Kraus
Interim VP, Communications & Marketing
Alberta Cancer Foundation
[email protected]


The Calgary Cancer Centre Campaign is on a mission to OWN.CANCER by raising $250 million in support of improved research, treatment and care at Calgary’s new world-class cancer centre. This game-changing initiative is backed by three trusted community institutions: Alberta Health Services, Canada’s first and largest fully integrated provincial health system; the University of Calgary, a globally recognized leader in medical research and home to tomorrow’s health-care professionals; and the Alberta Cancer Foundation, the official fundraising partner for all 17 cancer care centres across the province. Currently under construction, the Calgary Cancer Centre will open its doors in 2023 as the largest, most comprehensive cancer centre in Canada.

To donate and learn more, visit

OWN video

OWN.CANCER Campaign Video

Charlotte Kessler

Charlotte’s Story

Partnering with patients to design the Calgary Cancer Centre.

After a three-hour drive from Medicine Hat to Calgary’s Foothills Medical Centre, Charlotte Kessler walked into her doctor’s appointment in 2013 thinking she was out of the woods. She’d recently had what was believed to be a benign, one-and-a-half-inch mass removed from her frontal lobe, and was assuming her appointment was just a follow-up. But that sense of security was shattered when a doctor she’d never met walked into the room.

“We should start treatment, then,” he began.

Taken aback, she asked, “Treatment for what?”

“Oh, you have cancer.”

It was a shocking moment for Kessler, and one of the experiences that inspired her to become a vocal advocate for the patient experience. As the volunteer co-chair for the Patient and Family Advisory Council (PFAC) for the new Calgary Cancer Centre, Kessler, who completed active treatment for her cancer in 2015, is helping give patients a voice.

Set to open in 2024, the Calgary Cancer Centre will be a first-rate cancer treatment and research centre for Albertans. The PFAC, which is made up of patients, family members and Calgary Cancer Centre staff, was created to address and improve the patient experience from the very beginning of the Calgary Cancer Centre’s design process in 2014. Through regular feedback, PFAC volunteer members have helped shape everything from the Calgary Cancer Centre’s overarching design principles to wayfinding and the space’s amount of natural light. Alberta Health Services also plans to engage PFAC in the centre’s continued operational planning.

Charlotte Kessler joined PFAC as one of the original members at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre in 2014. She had finished radiation and one year of chemotherapy and had one more year of chemo ahead of her. The committee gave her the chance to turn her experiences — unpleasant and otherwise — into an opportunity.

“I had a wide variety of experiences as a patient,” she says. “From terrible to exceptional and everything in between. This was a way to make something positive out of my experiences while also having a hands-on influence on the future of cancer care.”

Once she joined PFAC, she found that other members shared similar stories.

“It was definitely a great foundation for building trusting relationships and mutual respect,” she says. “It imbedded our common goal, to ensure the patient’s voice is heard, really quickly.”

Now, as the co-chair of PFAC, Kessler has spent the last six years working with other patient and family advisors through engagement sessions, focus groups and meetings. With monthly meetings from September to June, along with other consultations as needed, PFAC works in partnership with Alberta Health Services staff, clinicians, administration, the design builder and Alberta Infrastructure.

“I feel humbled and proud all at the same time to know that our voices are being listened to so intently,” she says. “To see everything coming to light, and see that it’s not just a promise, but it’s actually happening – it’s exciting.”

PFAC has provided feedback on many design features for the Calgary Cancer Centre, including patient rooms, interior design and clinical spaces. Kessler was also specifically involved with the group working on the design of the radiation unit. By nature, the space is required to be in the basement, but feedback from patient and family advisors noted that the current space can feel “cold and distant.”

Through PFAC and staff recommendations, the Calgary Cancer Centre’s new radiation space has been designed to be open and bright.

The waiting area will include both social and more private spaces for patients, as well as window wells for natural light “to give you a sense that there’s still a world out there,” Kessler says. As you walk into the radiation room, it will be brighter, have art on the walls and include a chair, coat hook and shelf to hold patients’ belongings.

“Those things may seem small,” she says. “But when you’re in that world for such a long time, those little things really add up.”

There’s plenty of work left to be done before the Calgary Cancer Centre is complete, but Kessler is certain it will all be worth it when the doors open to Albertans.

“When it’s 100 per cent built, it’s going to be incredible. With this new cancer centre and all it will bring to us as Albertans, we will be able to access world class cancer treatments, research and care.

I truly believe we can all OWN.CANCER. By coming together in support of our loved ones, our neighbours, our communities, and all Albertans through this new cancer centre, we can OWN.CANCER – together.”