As a family with almost three-quarters-of-a-century history in construction, land development and hospitality, Lynda and Murray Farmer know that in real estate few things are as important as location.
And so, when the opportunity arose to purchase the first ever fully donor-funded BC Cancer building (in which to relocate supportive cancer care services) less than 250 metres from BC Cancer – Victoria’s existing facilities, they jumped at the chance to help make it happen.
As honourary co-chairs of the BC Cancer Foundation’s $15-million campaign to establish the BC Cancer – Victoria Integrated Care and Research Pavilion and support research and clinical trials on the Island, the Farmers are generously leading the way with a $500,000 donation.
As the new home of supportive cancer care, which treats the adverse side effects of the disease and its treatment and includes psychiatry, patient and family counseling, hereditary counselling, nutrition and medical genetics, the pavilion will enable BC Cancer to enhance and expand on these essential services.
The 12,000 square-foot building at 2340 Richmond Road is “a bit of a unicorn,” says Murray whose third-generation construction business dates back to his father’s founding company, Farmer Construction Ltd. “It’s a good building with great parking, and it’s very high profile on a major thoroughfare.”
Even more important, he says, is its proximity to BC Cancer – Victoria which will allow staff to work seamlessly between the two buildings and yet offer patients a reprieve from returning to the setting in which they received treatment — something of especial benefit for the 20% of cancer patients who experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Depression and anxiety are also common in people facing cancer. And while lifesaving, chemotherapy, radiation and other therapies can initiate psychiatric side effects such as extreme anger, irritability, fatigue, loss of speech or cognitive function.
“Supportive cancer care is about helping patients build their life back. To resume a sense of normalcy. To be able to eat properly, speak properly and surmount some of the residual fear that comes with a cancer journey,” says Lynda.
As longtime local health-care champions, and recipients of the Order of British Columbia, this is not the Farmers first foray into improving cancer care on the Island. Their support of the BC Cancer Foundation dates back to 2003, when they helped establish the Deeley Research Centre (DRC).
“People thought, ‘Research on Vancouver Island? That’s a crazy idea.’ But as the DRC’s ‘Dare to Believe’ campaign name implied, we felt a tremendous amount of pride at the potential for cancer innovation in our community,” says Lynda.
Now a world-renowned pioneer in immunotherapy research, the DRC was the first in Canada to produce CAR T-cells that use a genomic approach to generate more precise immune responses against cancer.
“We are so blessed in Victoria because this community really does step up and get behind the groundbreaking work being done at BC Cancer,” says Lynda. “This community has provided our livelihood and there’s many who recognize the importance and collective impact of giving back.”
Despite what he calls the new pavilion’s ‘good bones,’ —”It’s not just about buying a building and renovating it,” agrees Murray, “but the unique opportunity for people on Vancouver Island to take part in something really special that will drastically enhance cancer care and support closer to home.”
Donate today to help create more space for supportive cancer care at BC Cancer – Victoria for the 6,000 Vancouver Island residents diagnosed each year at bccancerfoundation.com/vancouver-island/