At this very moment, the largest cancer centre in Canada—the Arthur J.E. Child Comprehensive Cancer Centre—is coming to life in Calgary. When it opens its doors in 2024, the Arthur Child will shelter 1.3 million square feet of world-leading cancer care, research and education. But, in order to achieve the full potential of the Arthur Child, we need your help. Big dreams need big support. We need to raise $250 million to purchase cutting-edge equipment, support world-class research and fund supportive programming for patients and their families. Without these essential components, the Arthur Child will remain just a building. However, with your support, we can elevate it into a world-renowned cancer centre—a beacon of hope for Albertans facing cancer. 

Here are a few compelling examples of how the generous support of Albertans is already transforming the Arthur Child from a mere building into a place of healing and hope: 


Over the last year, we saw the installation of two MR LINAC machines in the Arthur Child, funded through donations to OWN.CANCER. These machines, offering the world’s most advanced radiation therapy, are incredibly rare. There are currently only a handful operational in North America, and the Arthur Child will be the only centre in Canada to host two of these machines, advancing radiation therapy for patients across Alberta.  



The Arthur Child will be the first cancer centre in Canada to utilize a robot – that is, the IV Robotic Compounder – to assist in creating chemotherapy medication for patients. This innovation will enhance patient safety through precise dosing accuracy and in-process barcode readers for drug identification and tracking. It will also improve staff safety by minimizing exposure to hazardous medications and reducing repetitive strain injuries. 



Thanks to donations to the OWN.CANCER campaign, the Arthur Child will also be adding more opportunities for early detection of late-stage cancers through the addition of a dedicated PET-CT machine for cancer patients. This machine will have a profound impact, enabling faster and more accurate diagnoses for thousands of patients in southern Alberta, while also helping to advance cancer research. 



Since the very beginning, patient experience has been central to the Arthur Child’s design. To help, Alberta Health Services has engaged the Patient and Family Advisory Committee – a group of Albertan volunteers – every step of the way to ensure that the patient voice guides decisions and enhances future patient experiences. From the moment you enter the centre, you’ll feel the difference – surrounded by gardens, courtyards and serene spaces for patients to find solace and reflection on their cancer journey. One standout feature is the healing gardens running through the heart of the cancer center.  


Additionally, exterior light wells provide natural light to radiation therapy spaces, which are required to be in the basement and can often feel dark and distant. Now, they are open and filled with light. 

Even within the patient rooms, the Arthur Child is designed with cutting-edge technology. It features “Smart Glass” that seamlessly transitions between clear and tinted states. This innovation not only enhances patient comfort by controlling glare and heat, thus reducing energy consumption, it also prioritizes patient safety by eliminating the necessity for traditional fabric window coverings.  As Charlotte Kessler, co-chair for the Patient and Family Advisory Council at the Arthur Child, aptly puts it,

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



Cancer doesn’t care if you have a family at home. The Arthur Child was built with this in mind. Recognizing the challenges that patients with families face when balancing their health with their responsibilities at home, the Arthur Child will offer child minding services to patients so they can focus on getting the treatment they need, while ensuring their loved ones are also being cared for.  

As outlined in the examples above, the momentum to bring world-class cancer care and research to Calgary is building in Calgary. Progress is happening. We are already recognized as a hub for cancer research, treatment and care. Yet, we’re poised to achieve so much more. To reach our $250 million goal and unlock the Arthur Child’s full potential, we can’t do it alone. It takes a community, including our donors and supporters, to transform the Arthur Child from a building into a beacon of hope. 


Brayden and Carson own cancer

Brayden Kenly and Carson Weiss, both 11-year-old students, raised $2,989 for the OWN.CANCER campaign as part of the Take Action Fair at school. This project was deeply personal for them, as Brayden’s Mother, Trish, was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer, and Carson’s Grandmother faces cancer as well. Through this fundraiser, they hoped to raise awareness and $2,500 to support the new Cancer Centre in Calgary – opening in 2024.

Brayden and Carson

In 2019, Trish Kenly noticed a small lump while doing an at-home breast exam. Within a short couple of months, Trish would receive a stage 4 breast cancer diagnosis, have a lumpectomy and learn of a metastasized mass in her spine.
With her two young children, Brayden and Hailey, at the front of her mind, Trish explains that “Hearing that the cancer had moved throughout my body was the most devastating moment in my world.”
As the years passed, her scans were showing no new areas of concern. Trish found herself grateful for the incredible care she received at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre and hopeful for new things to come at the new Cancer Centre in Calgary. So when Brayden was given the Take Action project, Trish suggested the OWN.CANCER campaign.

From that moment on, Brayden and Carson were full steam ahead with this project.

“Once I found out about OWN.CANCER I knew that I just had to set up my own page and support the cause further.” – Brayden, 11-years old.

Brayden and Carson

Hoping to raise $2,500, Brayden and Carson, and their Moms, pulled out all of the stops for the Fair. They sold homemade Cake-Pops, made by Trish, while rocking custom designed T-shirts, made by Lisa – Carson Weiss’s Mother. They also went above and beyond on their poster.

It turned out to be a great success, surpassing their fundraising goal, and reaching a total of $2,989!

“I feel excited because I know that it is going to help people with all different types of cancers get the best treatments available.” – Carson, 11-years old.

Carson’s Mother, Lisa Weiss, also knew the value of giving back to cancer care in Alberta. She explains, “Being a registered nurse, I actually started my career on a hematology/oncology unit. I experienced first hand the importance of having access to advancing treatment options as well as having a place where people can receive their treatment in a comfortable space. The new cancer centre will be able to provide people with most current treatment options available as well as provide a beautiful space for them and their families to come and feel truly taken care of both physically, emotionally and psychologically. ”

We are so inspired by the care these two young boys, and their families, brought to this project. The new Cancer Centre in Calgary will be opening in 2024 and with outstanding commitment, like this, from our communities, we will OWN.CANCER!

Brayden and Carson

“I believe that this new building will play a big role in finally finding the cure to cancer and if I get to see the day that this dream comes true then it will be one of the most happy days for the earth…” – Brayden Kenly

In Andrew’s Memory: Allison Wusaty

When Allison’s brother, Andrew, passed away from brain cancer in 2019, she was inspired to take back the power the disease had over her family. Now, Allison fundraises with her nephews in memory of her brother and in hopes of bettering cancer outcomes. This is their story.

The Wusaty Family (Andrew on the left and Allison in the middle)

Allison’s brother, Andrew, was diagnosed with brain cancer at the age of 30. He underwent four brain surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation and received care at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre. “He had an excellent relationship with his oncology team,” Allison reports. She further describes Andrew’s personal bonds with certain nurses, doctors, and surgeons and their positive impact on him.

Sadly, over ten years, the cancer grew more serious, reaching its peak in 2019. “He had glioblastoma,” Allison explained. “It was suddenly terminal.” Andrew passed away in March of that year. He left behind his wife, Deserae, and two sons. Archer was a newborn baby and Pryce was 4-years-old. His parents and sister were also devastated. “Our family has a hole without him” she says.

Allison recalls feeling helpless and uncertain about what she could do for her brother. “Cancer of a loved one is a very overwhelming and emotional process” she explains. “It affected Andrew and also the whole family.”

Allison Wusaty
Andrew’s sons, Archer and Pryce.

Together with her parents, nephews and sister-in-law, Allison has found fundraising is a beautiful way to honor her brother. The family is motivated to help others who are experiencing cancer.

Recently, Andrew’s sons, Pryce, 8 and Archer, 4, created their own company called “Wu’s Salts”, selling 100 bags of bath salts in one month and donating their earnings to the Alberta Cancer Foundation. It was a family project, with Andrew’s wife, Deserae, even looking after the marketing and photography.

Wu's Salts

Allison emphasizes, “It’s been important to have the kids involved and have conversations with them about why we fundraise”.

The family understands that cancer impacts everyone, whether personally or through other people in their lives. “That is why we fundraise,” she says.

My brother endured 4 brain surgeries, radiation, chemo, constant appointments and many medications.  Through all of that, he travelled, worked, had deep relationships with family and friends and always kept laughing. Of course it wasn’t always positive but he always found a way to keep going.  That remains my guiding light as I continue on without him.  I live life in a thoughtful way, travel, have close relationships with friends and family and keep smiling. I also grieve the loss of such an amazing brother and human being every day. However, his memory lives on with me and I pass on all of these great memories of Andrew to Pryce and Archer, his children. Alongside them, I fundraise for cancer patients just like Andrew and hope that one day we can eradicate this terrible disease.

Andrew Wusaty

Originally posted on the Alberta Cancer Foundation blog.

Scott Beer

Scott Beer on his Multiple Myeloma Journey

When were you diagnosed with multiple myeloma?

In July 2019, I started experiencing pain in my lower back. My chiropractor was unable to make it better after a couple visits, so I switched to physiotherapy. This gave temporary relief only.

By the end of August, I was walking with a cane. By the end of September, I could barely walk and had lost 18 kg in my weight. On October 4, 2019, I went back to the ER and this time, they kept me. I am very thankful for the ER doctor there as she took the time to visually inspect me and could see a tumour pushing up the skin on my ribs. She knew the tumour and the back issues were related.

I was confused about how this could be. A week later, I received my myeloma diagnosis right in time for Thanksgiving!

Where were you treated?

Prior to my diagnosis, I felt that I was just sent away with quick fixes every time that actually fixed nothing. However, once I knew the source of my troubles was myeloma, I felt very scared and hopeless but also relieved. I was in a dark place but was able to start talking with medical teams who know myeloma and specialize in its treatment. I was able to ask questions and get answers.

In Oct. 2019, I spent one week in the Spinal Ward at the Foothills hospital as we waited for various test results to see if I would need back surgery. Once it was determined that myeloma was the cause of my back issues (I had two collapsed vertebrae), I was immediately sent to the Hematology Ward at the Foothills Hospital, and treatment started almost immediately in the form of chemotherapy. A week later, I was sent home with pills in hand and continued my initial treatment for four months leading up to a Stem Cell Transplant in March 2020.

The nurses and doctors in the Hematology Ward, Apheresis Ward & Tom Baker Cancer Centre are top-notch. They know their job very well, and they also have compassion.

What advice would you give to other cancer patients going through a similar experience to yours?

It is very tough to learn you have cancer. Life, as you know it, changes with one word. However, you are not alone and do not try to go on such a journey alone. Both patients and caregivers need support.

At that difficult time, I leaned on my faith, family and friends. As I started to improve, I found it very helpful to talk. Try not to be afraid to talk to those who have also been diagnosed. They can help in a special way. While big treatments were still on the horizon in early 2020, I started to exit the dark place and got renewed hope believing that I could achieve better days just like other patients I spoke to.

It was helpful for me to never ask the question’ “Why did I get cancer?” Such a question can’t be answered for me, so I did not dwell on it. Instead, I chose to focus on “What can I do about this and a new life with myeloma?”.

My first glimmer of hope came during my hospital stay just after my diagnosis. The nurse came and asked me if I would like a visit from two volunteers who were in the ward that day from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I accepted. One was a 10-year survivor. Next thing I knew I was in tears. Their short talk with me gave me hope. A life changing moment and I am forever grateful to them.

Reach out to support groups in your area. You will be able to get their contact information at cancer clinics and via hospital social workers. (Examples: Southern Alberta Myeloma Patient Society, Myeloma Alberta Support Society & Myeloma Alberta Support Society Myeloma Canada)


What are some of the most important things that you want people to know about multiple myeloma?

Multiple Myeloma is the second most common blood cancer affecting the plasma cells in the bone marrow, yet it is relatively unknown. There currently is no cure.

My current medications are keeping the myeloma in remission, but I will relapse one day. However, there is hope.

There have been great advancements in treatments giving many patients longer life expectancy and better quality of life. Personally, I am benefiting from treatments we now have with great gratitude to those patients who were and are part of clinical trials and great myeloma research ongoing in Alberta.


At the Calgary Cancer Centre, we’re bringing together researchers, medical teams, prevention experts, patients and families in ways never before possible. You can help us advance Multiple Myeloma research and treatment in Calgary, by donating to the OWN.CANCER campaign today.
Torey Erdman in OWN.CANCER

“Cancer Does Not Define Me” – Torey Erdman on her liposarcoma journey

Torey Erdman is a born and raised Calgarian, working as an Operating Room Nurse at the Rockyview General Hospital. In 2021, a CT scan revealed a ‘soccer-ball’ sized tumour in Torey’s abdomen, and she was diagnosed with a rare form of liposarcoma. Recently, Torey celebrated her one-year post-surgery anniversary and her one-year of being re-occurrence-free!

Today, she shares her story with us…


Torey Erdman with dog

Tell us about yourself…

My name is Torey Erdman, and I am 37 years old. I am a registered nurse working in the Operating Room at the Rockyview General Hospital in Calgary.

I love to travel, and I would consider myself an outdoor enthusiast… really anything that gets me outdoors and to the mountains. I have a 7-year-old boxer dog named Hank. Lucky for me, he joins me on most of my adventures and keeps me active and out of trouble.

I am close with my family, including my younger sister, Tamara, who I talk to every day. I am truly blessed to be surrounded by such an amazing support network, and I have so much gratitude for my family and friends.

How did your cancer journey begin?

My cancer journey began in October 2021, following thanksgiving dinner. Like many people, I overindulged in dinner and was left with a very uncomfortable “full” feeling that I assumed was from eating too much turkey. Only the feeling didn’t really go away.

The next week at work, I just happened to have a casual conversation with a surgeon colleague of mine, who thought my symptoms warranted further investigation. An urgent CT scan revealed a 26cm tumour in my abdomen. I was completely shocked to hear the news as the idea of a soccer ball mass in my tummy seemed impossible. The following days were consumed by more tests, appointments and a biopsy to determine I had a very rare form of liposarcoma cancer.

The words “I have cancer” were inconceivable.

Liposarcoma cat scan

Scan of Torey’s abdomen showing 26cm tumour

The Tom Baker Cancer Centre staff were very welcoming and sensitive to my diagnosis. I remember sitting with the surgery team with my notebook of questions ready. As an OR nurse, I felt relatively prepared for whatever news they were going to deliver.

I remained strong and stoic during the appointment until the surgeon told me that the surgery would entail not only removing the 26cm tumour from my abdomen but also my left kidney, spleen, and portions of my pancreas, bowel and diaphragm.

The news shattered me, and I finally broke down in the office. My incredible team, including my surgeon, sat and consoled me.

Like so many newly diagnosed cancer patients, I was not prepared to hear those details.

Torey Erdman in hosptial bed

The days and weeks that followed were very unnerving and filled with uncertainty. I went down many rabbit holes on the Internet looking up sarcoma cancer, only to realize there was very little research or good data to support my prognosis. An intense shadow of sadness, grief, and terror crept over me.

In November 2021, the TBCC became very familiar to me as I visited daily for my radiation treatments. The process was rather simple, and lucky for me, I had very few side effects.

I finished radiation on December 24, 2021- Christmas Eve. As I left my last appointment, I was greeted outside and surprised by a group of my closest friends and sister who cheered me on and congratulated me. This wonderful support, combined with the great care I received at the TBCC, left my heart full of gratitude and appreciation.

I then had surgery on January 26, 2022. As an OR nurse, I thought I had realistic expectations of what the surgery would entail. But I can 100% tell you that being on the other side of the stretcher- being the patient is a whole different experience. The surgery took almost 8 hours but, overall, went really well.

I cannot thank my fellow surgical teams enough, and my surgeon is my hero. However, I struggled after surgery and spent 3 weeks at the Foothills Hospital. A few hardships and complications later, I returned home a mere 40 lbs lighter and feeling like a much different version of myself.

With time- the body heals, and my incredible sister helped nurse me back to health. I would not have made the recovery that I did without the support and outpouring of love I received from family, friends and colleagues. They continually uplifted me, brought me joy and supported my recovery.

Coincidently, shortly after surgery, I saw a segment on the Calgary news about a local firefighter named Lorne Miller raising money for the Children’s Hospital in honour of a young boy. I immediately reached out over social media and discovered that he and I shared almost identical cancer stories. Lorne, without a doubt, has been an incredible inspiration and source of support for me over this last year.

How are you doing today?

Today as I look back, the whole experience seems surreal. I am back to my regular habits- enjoying the outdoors and being active again. It turns out the human body is pretty incredible, and with a little love, time and healing, it can do anything!

Coincidently, I just celebrated my one-year post-surgery milestone and being 1-year re-occurrence free!

So what did we do to celebrate? My friends and I hosted a 1 hour workout at The Method Gym to move our bodies and remind us all that our health should never be taken for granted. We had a great time, worked up a sweat and raised $600 for the Alberta Cancer Foundation.

What was a challenge you faced through your journey, and what advice would you give to someone facing a similar challenge?

One of the greatest challenges that I faced was struggling with the decision to do chemotherapy treatment or not. Following surgery, my oncology team presented me with an option to do adjuvant chemo. Unfortunately, because my sarcoma cancer type is so rare, there was very little data or research to support that chemo would be effective or not. I waffled with the decision for weeks and literally flip-flopped daily on the choice.

It was the hardest decision I had to make throughout my entire journey. In the end, I decided against adjuvant chemo- recognizing that at that time my body needed time to heal.

My advice to those experiencing something similar would be to reach out, ask questions and try to find someone going through a similar experience. The power of connection with another is invaluable.

Torey Erdman receiving cancer treatment

How do you own cancer?

I choose to OWN cancer by staying positive. A cancer diagnosis can be extremely physically and emotionally overwhelming, but I refuse to become a victim to it. I am a cancer thriver!

I am the author of my own story. Cancer does not define me, and I just have to remind myself that this is just one chapter in Torey’s story.

No one can OWN cancer alone- you need a community. I want to live a life of joy and gratitude, and I do so by surrounding myself with those that uplift, support and cheer me on. The new cancer center will offer many great services to cancer patients and their families. But maybe its greatest gift will be the physical space it allows for cancer patients to network, share their stories and fight the battle together.

Torey Erdman ran a marathon

What else would you like to share?

I thought it might be worth mentioning that although my own personal experience with cancer began in October 2021, cancer has been an impactful part of my life for 27 years. My mom passed away when I was 10 years old from breast cancer. Losing a parent at such a young age meant I already had an established perspective of what a cancer diagnosis could mean.

I also lost a very dear friend to pancreatic cancer in August of 2021- although his death was inexplicably painful, his passing was also peaceful, beautiful and left me changed for the better.

My experience of losing these loved ones has shown me the true meaning of grace, humility, strength, resilience, bravery and love. Qualities I can only hope to foster in myself as I navigate this journey.

Sarcoma cancers account for less than 1% of all cancers. The yellow ribbon is meant to increase public awareness of sarcoma cancer, and the sunflower is a symbol of hope, used by sarcoma communities around the globe to remind those affected by sarcoma that they are not alone and they are strong.

Torey Erdman


At the Calgary Cancer Centre, we’re bringing together researchers, medical teams, prevention experts, patients and families in ways never before possible. Help make an impact on cancer research and treatment and donate to the OWN.CANCER campaign today.
You never know whose life you could change simply by talking about your own, share your story today.
Multiple Myeloma patient riding for a cause

Beverley Dunn on her Multiple Myeloma journey

Beverley Dunn was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma in 2018. This cancer journey has taught Bev many lessons. Most of all, she learned the importance of support throughout difficult times. Today, Bev is the President of the Southern Alberta Myeloma Patient Society (SAMPS), helping to provide guidance and care for those facing this devastating blood cancer.

For Multiple Myeloma Awareness Month, Bev shares her story with us…


Beverly Dunn


When were you diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma? What were some of the initial symptoms you faced?

May 30, 2018, was the day my life changed forever.

In the Spring of 2018, I experienced fatigue and increased thirst. Those were my only indications that something might be wrong. These symptoms increased, and on May 30, 2018, I got up to go to work, and I was so fatigued I couldn’t stand upright long enough to finish my shower. That’s when the warning bells went off.
My husband took me to the ER at Rockyview, where bloodwork was done. Unbeknownst to me, my kidneys were failing! Later that evening, after more extensive bloodwork, the on-call Oncologist told us I had Multiple Myeloma, and I was admitted to Rockyview Hospital for further testing.

Where were you treated? How was your treatment experience?

After a week in Rockyview Hospital, I was referred immediately to the Tom Baker Cancer Center. I attended the Hematology Clinic for 4.5 months of chemotherapy and then transferred to the Bone Marrow Clinic for my autologous stem cell transplant, which occurred on November 16, 2018.


The staff, nurses and oncologists at the Tom Baker Cancer Center are marvellous! I felt absolutely supported by and had total confidence in the team at the Tom Baker and on the transplant unit at the Foothills Hospital. They went above and beyond to ensure that my husband and I understood what was happening during every phase of treatment.


Multiple Myeloma patient

What advice would you give to other cancer patients going through a similar experience to yours, and how can they find the support they need to keep moving forward?

First of all, listen to your body. Myeloma symptoms can be vague, as evidenced by my own case. What I thought was fatigue caused by stress and thirst I attributed to the HVAC heating of our older building downtown were actually symptoms of a life-threatening, incurable blood cancer!

Listen to your oncology team. If you have a question or a problem, contact them. Work with them and learn all you can about your particular situation. They always say “that’s what we’re here for”, and they mean it.


Reach out to a support group. I reached out to the Southern Alberta Myeloma Patient Society (SAMPS). They helped me through my journey, so I eventually joined their Board of Directors to learn more and give something back. Myeloma Canada is also a tremendous source of information on Myeloma.

Maintain a positive outlook and a sense of humour.


What is some knowledge you’d like to share that you’ve learned at the Southern Alberta Myeloma Patient Society?
  • Myeloma is the second-most common blood cancer but is relatively unknown. There is no cure.
  • Research has made great strides in developing treatments which have extended life expectancy by years [for Multiple Myeloma patients].
  • Symptoms can include kidney issues, bone pain, recurrent infections and cold sores, fatigue, or tiredness accompanied by other symptoms like loss of appetite, confusion, increased thirst, and nausea and vomiting. People experiencing any or all of these symptoms should see their doctor.
  • Myeloma is different for almost every person. Some people experience bone pain. Others, like myself, have vague symptoms like fatigue. Treatments are tailored specifically to each person. It’s not “one size fits all” treatment.
  • Every year, 3,800 Canadians are diagnosed with Myeloma.


At the Calgary Cancer Centre, we’re bringing together researchers, medical teams, prevention experts, patients and families in ways never before possible. You can help us advance Multiple Myeloma research and treatment in Calgary, by donating to the OWN.CANCER campaign today.
Harjeet Kaur

How Harjeet Kaur owns cancer

In May 2018, Harjeet Kaur came to Edmonton from India with her husband – hoping for a new career, a new life, and to start a family. Things were all right at first. “Everything was going smoothly; I was living my normal life,” Harjeet says. “But life had different plans.”

Harjeet began to have fevers at the end of May 2019. When she fainted in her bathroom one day, her husband found her and took her to their general practitioner. Harjeet was told that it was just a normal viral fever, and took Tylenol to relieve it.

Weeks passed, but the fever persisted – it was around 39 to 40 degrees, even rising to 42. Harjeet visited her GP again, and even the emergency room, but there were no answers.


Harjeet cancer patient with husband“I don’t have a count of how many times I went to the emergency room, waited for seven to eight hours, and always [got] the same answer: “It’s just a fever. You don’t have any other symptoms, so just take Tylenol.”


And she did just that. “I was on Tylenol every two hours, back to back.”


Months passed. The fever and chills became so severe that she developed ulcers in her mouth, which kept her from being able to eat. Her husband was worried because he could see her becoming more ill everyday. It was challenging for him to both work and to take care of her. Luckily, her other family members came to help – Harjeet’s mother from India, and her brother from British Columbia.


In June, Harjeet’s specialist called her back for a CT scan, after which she was admitted into the hospital. There, she would be subject to extensive scans, biopsies, x-rays, blood work, and even a laparoscopy. Harjeet underwent numerous biopsies and surgeries and was seen by various specialists and doctors for two and a half months – but still, there were no answers.


“I [felt] like a research patient where every doctor was coming to see me and no one had any answers.”


After three months of being in the hospital, swelling due to IV fluids, along with the continuous fevers, fainting, and ulcers, Harjeet gave up. Unable to find any answers in

Edmonton, Harjeet and her husband contacted doctors in India, who suggested that she come back to India so that they could examine her in person.


At the same time, the doctors at the U of A hospital wanted to do a last biopsy, which would be her 13th or 14th biopsy during those three months. It was a skin biopsy, and Harjeet was promised that it would be the last one.


Exhausted and discouraged, Harjeet was reluctant at first. She had so many scars on her body, and had gone through so many scans and blood work – still, her husband said that she should give it a try, and so she did.


On August 28, 2019, as Harjeet was being discharged from the hospital, she was told her diagnosis – stage 4 lymphoma. Harjeet was shocked by this news. She didn’t know anyone with cancer, nor did she have a family history of cancer.


“It was so difficult to take everything in at that time – when she said the word ‘cancer’… Nobody wants to hear that.”


The doctors were rushing Harjeet into treatment right away, but she and her husband wanted a few hours to discuss it and take some time to process it. For the past several months, they’d had no answers – and now they learned it was cancer.


Harjeet cancer patientHarjeet received her first chemotherapy session at the U of A hospital, and the oncologist explained to her the type of cancer that she had, and about the treatment plan. Harjeet had a very rare type of cancer, and they weren’t able to diagnose it until now because the symptoms for it are still insufficient.


After the first two of six chemotherapy sessions, Harjeet was finally discharged from the hospital. Chemotherapy itself wasn’t easy, but she was relieved to be finally home again after three months.


For the remainder of her chemotherapy sessions, Harjeet went to the Cross Cancer Institute. The treatment was somewhat successful, but not completely. They suggested that she do a stem cell transplant, which would allow her to live a little longer; the alternative was to continue with chemotherapy.


It seemed an obvious answer to Harjeet – to do the stem cell transplant.


In December 2019, Harjeet met with her team for the stem cell transplant at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre. She would receive chemotherapy every week in January and February of 2020 to put her cancer into partial remission, so that her body would be ready for the transplant.


“Whether I survive or not, I just wanted to pass over this process that was happening.” – Harjeet Kaur on her thoughts in that moment


In January, Harjeet lost her right eye vision due to CMV Retinitis. She feels disappointed that no one took her seriously at that time, even though she tried reaching out to her team and went to the emergency room.


Her fertility was also compromised, and she was told that she was going into early menopause. She wonders that if she had been diagnosed earlier, and had been told about potential complications with her fertility, she may have frozen her eggs.


In April 2020, Harjeet had her stem cell transplant. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, she had to go in by herself.


Being in the hospital by herself, she wondered whether she would leave the surgery alive or not. “I was just fighting for my life,” she says.


Fortunately, the stem cell transplant was successful. Although it wasn’t easy – due to the amount of stress, as well as changes in her appearance – Harjeet Kaur explains that this whole experience has given her a new perspective. She has accepted that this is her new normal, and is trying to live each day.


“I was lucky to get a second chance at life.”

Harjeet Kaur

Still now, due to her uncertain symptoms in the past, Harjeet goes in for a PET scan every year.

Now, Harjeet Kaur owns her cancer journey by advocating for a better healthcare system and is passionate about helping educate other cancer patients on how to be empowered through their cancer journeys.

She hopes that future cancer patients will have more autonomy over their treatment journey and believes that the Calgary Cancer Centre has the opportunity to provide this when it opens in 2024.

As her type of cancer was very rare, Harjeet hasn’t yet come across anyone else in Canada with a similar type. Still, she stresses the importance of support groups and communities and advises fellow cancer survivors to build connections with each other.


“Every story is different, every journey is different, [but] if we have that strong willpower to live and survive this, we will do it. I know it’s difficult, but we have to.”


At the Calgary Cancer Centre, we’re bringing together researchers, medical teams, prevention experts, patients and families in ways never before possible. Help make an impact on cancer research and treatment. Help patients like Harjeet Kaur OWN.CANCER and donate today.

Carmelina and the Nipple Sisters – Helping women own cancer

In 2014, Carmelina had a feeling that something was not right with her health and consulted her doctor about it. Her intuition was right. Unfortunately, she was diagnosed with breast cancer that same year. Carmelina’s diagnosis left her feeling alone, but she was determined to push through with love and laughter. Through this journey, she has found her purpose by creating a business in artistry, in which she does tattoo Areola Restoration for women who have undergone mastectomies. Carmelina and her business partner, Kacie, were coined the ‘Nipple Sisters’ through their incredible work. To this day, they continue to help women OWN their cancer journey by restoring their body confidence through tattoo artistry.

This is Carmelina’s story…


Tell us about yourself…

I was born in Calgary Alberta and am the second eldest of 6 kids.  My mother is Irish & Métis, and my father was born in Italy.  Growing up in both Italy and Canada, I have always strongly identified with my Italian roots.  I love to cook and take care of those I love.  I appreciate art and culture and the beautiful and simple things in life. It led me to a career in artistry, makeup and fashion.  I am really passionate about my career which I believe to be my purpose because it is the fusion of my passion and experience as a breast cancer slayer.  (I like to use the term slayer rather than survivor). Did you know that the word slayer in slang means to overwhelm, as with laughter or love?


Laughter and love are the two most important things to me.


How did your cancer journey begin?

I had a feeling something was not right in my body and insisted my doctor looked into it.  At first, he didn’t see the need to, but I continued to insist because like I said- I had a feeling something was not right.  

“I see Cancer in your breast, and it’s moved to your lymph nodes.” Those words from my doctor’s mouth have never felt real.  Cancer?  But I was healthy?  I am young… no one in my family has cancer… My life instantly changed, and nothing made sense at the time.

Shortly after I was bombarded with calls, CT Scan appointments, MRI appointments, blood work, bone scan appointments, and echocardiogram appointments.  There was no space. At that point, I was meeting my chemo oncologist and my surgeon biweekly!

My head was full. My emotions were on a roller coaster.


I did not want to die.  I did not want to lose my hair. I did not want to lose my breasts. Everything I once took for granted was in jeopardy.


The initial diagnosis was a lot to process, and I felt really alone.  I had many friends and family who supported me, but it is different when someone has not experienced it.

There is no one way or right way to deal with a diagnosis.  I chose to believe that I wasn’t sick.  Some would call that denial.  I call it mind power.

The power of the mind and meditation helped me.  I started to do things in my material life to honor the letting go process- like cutting my own hair off. That day, I was surrounded by friends and supported.  It was like a ceremony, and I felt like I was honoring what I was coming into… the unknown.

When my hair began to fall out- I shaved my head.  There is nothing you can do about the inevitable BUT there is a lot you can do in the space of the unknown.  I love to dance, and the process became a dance of releasing, letting go, clearing and bringing in.

My first round of chemo was my birthday on Dec 12, 2014, I had 8 rounds all together, radiation and surgery.

It was a slow surrender and the longest journey of strength.

How are you doing today?

I am doing good today, and I am very conscious and aware of my health. I was healthy before but it’s a complete lifestyle now. Now, I regularly get vitamin drips for immunity, I strength train and do yoga, I meditate and take supplements. Also, I have not had a drop of alcohol in 5 1/2 years. I am fully present and committed to living, and I am grateful to be alive.

Tell us about your treatment…

I was treated at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre, and I felt completely supported by the staff and the system.  Everything sort of happens so fast and there was constant help assisting me with all of the moving parts and navigation.

What was the inspiration behind the Nipple Sisters?

The Nipple Sisters was a true marriage of passion.  The initiative was established in response to the cancer-related death of Kacie’s father in 2007 and my breast cancer journey. Together we believe we can make a difference by joining forces to help make women feel whole again.

We work together as certified paramedical pigmentation specialists focusing on Areola Restoration through a give back initiative called Procedures for a Positive Purpose.  As the nipple sisters, we have a lighthearted approach to a very serious matter.  We want women to feel good, confident and whole again.  Areola Restoration is symbolic of the end of the journey.  It is emotional and triumphant.


What is your favourite part about your work?

My favourite part of my work is to meet each woman and to listen to their story and then to see the look in their eyes when they look in the mirror after the procedure.  You can feel that look.

What does the new Calgary Cancer Centre mean to you?

One huge missing aspect for me were integrative oncology resources at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre.  I strongly believe in mind, body, and soul healing. This healing integrative therapies. Fortunately, these resources will be available at the new Calgary Cancer Centre, which is a huge win.


Let’s create some awareness about the women’s stories who are thriving after a diagnosis.  Every journey is different, we can learn from one another and tap into some strength.


Let’s create awareness about HEALTH and prevention. Let’s create awareness about HEALING.  Have you seen the HEAL Documentary.   Your mind is powerful.  Watch this movie.   I am living proof that this is not “whoooo whooo”.

I completed my treatment plan with other natural and holistic protocols, and I am grateful I am here today to tell my story.


You can find Carmelina on Instagram, @Carmelinabaccari or her website at

You can find the other half of the ‘Nipple Sisters’, Kacie, on Instagram, @kacierainey or her website at


At the Calgary Cancer Centre, we’re bringing together researchers, medical teams, prevention experts, patients and families in ways never before possible. Help make an impact on cancer research and treatment and donate to the OWN.CANCER campaign today.

How Jodie Tilley is owning colon cancer

Born and raised in Australia, Jodie Tilley moved to Canada in 1996 after falling in love with the Rocky Mountains during a ski trip. After living in Halifax for several years, Jodie has been a resident of Calgary since 2005, and has made Canada her home for more than half of her life. It would be at Calgary’s Tom Baker Cancer Centre, where Jodie would be treated for colon cancer.

For the last 13 years, Jodie has been working in the medical field – 8 of those years in breast cancer reconstruction and cosmetic surgery and the last 5 in medical aesthetics. Along with her business partner, she opened two medical injectables clinics in Calgary. Although she leads a busy life running her business and raising her 7-year-old twin sons, she has always considered herself a healthy person. “I’ve always exercised, and always focused on what I put into my body,” she says.


During Thanksgiving of 2021, Jodie was admitted to the emergency room after suffering a complete bowel obstruction for three consecutive days. At first, she was misdiagnosed and sent home; but upon returning to the ER only an hour later, she received a CT scan and discovered that there was an obstructing tumor in her colon – and her colon was on the brink of rupture. She immediately received emergency surgery.


After a foot and a half of her colon was removed, it was also found that the tumor had eaten its way through her colon wall and metastasized to surrounding lymph nodes. Her doctors estimated that the tumor had begun growing approximately 10 years earlier.


Jodie recalls her thoughts from that day. “This is impossible, this must be something else.”


Before her diagnosis, Jodie had experienced certain signs and symptoms; for about 6 months, she had been feeling intense abdominal pain after large meals, as well as inconsistent bowel movements.


But because of the pandemic, Jodie explains that it would have taken about 6-12 months to see a specialist after going through her physician. She suspected that he had developed food intolerances, and rather than going through the time-consuming process of waiting to get into a GI soecialist, she decided she would try to figure it out on her own through the process of elimination and cutting out certain foods from her diet.

She also wondered if her symptoms were an early sign of ulcerative colitis, as her mother had developed it around her age. Jodie was also exhausted a lot of the time, however, she chalked it up the stressed of mothering of two young boys while running a business and a household.


“I had zero risk factors,” Jodie says, explaining how she has no history of cancer in her family and her overall healthy lifestyle.


After her surgery, Jodie spent 9 days in the hospital recovering. Unfortunately, the tumor had already metastasized, so she would undergo very aggressive chemotherapy treatments. She would have 12 rounds, which is the maximum amount. Her surgery and treatment spanned over 8 months.


Jodie explains that the side effects of her chemo treatments were cumulative; the more rounds she did, the more severe the side effects became. A few of her cycles of chemo even had to be postponed due to the severity of her symptoms.


Fortunately, Jodie completed her treatment in May of this year. Since then, she has been cancer-free and has been on her cancer survivorship journey.


Since then, Jodie has been trying to focus on restoring not only her physical health but also her mental health. Although she is cancer-free, she, like many cancer survivors, lives with fear of recurrence.


“You can’t control that,” she says. “It’s terrifying… It changes your perspective on life because you don’t know if you’ll be here this time next year or in two years, so you make the most of your time now and control what you can,” Jodie resolves.


Jodie wants to be an advocate for colon cancer and educate the younger population, who like her, are too young for screening. The screening age for a colonoscopy in Canada is 50, and being 47 at time of diagnosis, Jodie was not recommended for it. She speculates that if the screening age were lower, her cancer likely would have been detected earlier – she may not have had to endure advanced colon cancer and therefore had a less aggressive treatment plan and better outcomes.


Her goal is to help others who are going through a similar experience. “If I can help prevent other people from getting a colon cancer diagnosis then that’s owning cancer.”


Jodie also recalls the support of the nurses and staff that she received during her time at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre. “The nurses in the chemo ward are so fantastic,” she enthuses. “You never really felt alone. They were always there to listen and to support.”


One missing aspect for Jodie were integrative oncology resources at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre. Jodie sought it out on her own, which she found to be a valuable experience. Fortunately, these resources will be available at the new Calgary Cancer Centre, and Jodie is excited about it.


“Make sure that you are using those integrative resources,” Jodie says. “[And] do your own research on nutrition,” she adds, explaining about the importance of eating well during chemotherapy treatments, as certain foods – especially meats – may contain hormones and cause inflammation.


colon cancer patient focuses on a holistic lifestyle after diagnosis

During her treatments, Jodie always brought a unique and fun perspective to the cancer ward. For starters, she would bring a chemo buddy each session – such as her husband, her best friend, and friends who flew in from Halifax, Toronto and LA.


She also wore socks with humorous sayings relating to her cancer, and brought weights to lift, and did lunges and squats around the ward. One day, she even wore a Superwoman outfit. “I [would] always try to bring humour and cheers to the chemo ward.” Jodie did this in the hopes of not only lifting her own spirits but to also inspire other cancer patients.


“It is doom and gloom, so what can you do to cheer yourself up, cheer up other people in the chemo ward?”


Colon cancer patient brings joy to chemotherapy ward

Jodie also found a supportive community online. She openly shared her cancer journey on social media and was met with an overwhelming amount of encouragement from existing friends and made many new friends. Some of which were going through a similar journey.


Jodie has some poignant words for owning cancer: “[I’m] owning cancer by kicking it in the butt so much harder than it’s kicked mine,” she declares, “and by becoming an advocate for bowel cancer, I own it because I can educate and prevent others from getting the butt cancer diagnosis. Colon cancer is preventable, so let’s own it by preventing it.”


At the Calgary Cancer Centre, we’re bringing together researchers, medical teams, prevention experts, patients and families in ways never before possible. Help make an impact on colon cancer research and treatment and donate to the OWN.CANCER campaign today.

How GEDfest is supporting the Calgary Cancer Centre

GEDfest is a celebration of the impact Gordon Edgar Downie of the Tragically Hip had on Canadian culture and music. Behind the music, dancing, and good times had at this event is a purpose. For Keith, the organizer of GEDfest Calgary, the purpose is to ensure better outcomes for Alberta’s cancer patients.

“It is meant to be a celebration that brings the community together under the spirit of live music and charity.” – Keith Dyck, organizer of GEDfest.

Keith Dyck, co-founder of GEDfest.

Gordon Edgar Downie, the lead singer of the Tragically Hip, passed away from Glioblastoma brain cancer on October 17, 2017. Each year since, on the closest Saturday to October 17, GEDfest takes place to support a cancer charity. With tribute bands, like Trickle Down, playing hits by the Tragically Hip and conversations brewing about the Gordon Downie’s impact on Canadian culture and the cancer community, this event is a time to reconnect and take part in a good cause.

Keith knew he wanted to support cancer care provided in Calgary, having seen the incredible work taking place at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre.

Keith’s first glimpse at the care provided at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre came when one of his dearest friends, Terry, was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer.

GEDfest founders, Keith and Julie, and the funds they raised for the Calgary Cancer Centre.

When asked about Terry’s journey, Keith responded, “Through his battle with cancer, he talked about the Tom Baker Cancer Centre, the care he received there, and how amazing it was. He was given six months to live, and nine years later, he is a healthy, robust and beautiful man at 74. [Terry] would say, outside of his oncologist, the Tom Baker Cancer Centre saved his life.”

Keith’s wife, Julie, had also volunteered at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre.

With the new Calgary Cancer Centre opening up in 2024, Keith saw an opportunity to help advance cancer care for Albertans.

GEDfest, in Calgary, decided to support the new Calgary Cancer Centre through the OWN.CANCER campaign this year. Keith and Julie have made a commemorable effort to ensure that 100% of the proceeds from GEDfest go directly to the OWN.CANCER campaign.

“The Calgary Cancer Centre opening, we certainly want to be a part, albeit a very small part, of seeing that across the finish line.”

– Keith Dyck.

GEDfest, 2022.

When asked what OWN.CANCER means to him, Keith explains, “It is about community ownership… it is up to all of us to OWN.CANCER.”

It is certain that GEDfest brings the community together, all in the spirit of taking back the power cancer has over us. We are grateful for the support GEDfest has provided to the OWN.CANCER campaign and the Alberta Cancer Foundation in years past. It is clear to see the positive impact it has on our Albertan communities.


Here is how you can support GEDfest:

  1. Attend the live event. (On the Saturday closest to October 17 each year)
  2. Donate to their portal through the OWN.CANCER site.
  3. Go to to learn more about the event and the people who created it.
  4. Follow GEDfest on social media.


“Music brings people together. So my function in anything I do is to help bring people closer in.” – Gordon Edgar Downie


At the Calgary Cancer Centre, we’re bringing together researchers, medical teams, prevention experts, patients and families in ways never before possible. Learn more about the OWN.CANCER campaign today.