Cancer luncheon feeds hope

Keith Halliday pointed to the bald patch on the back of his head. That’s “the radiation spot,” he said. Halliday beat cancer.

Keith Halliday pointed to the bald patch on the back of his head.

That’s “the radiation spot,” he said.

Halliday beat cancer.

And he was at the Cancer Society’s daffodil luncheon on Thursday to say, “Thanks.”

“Sometimes I think we suffer from cancer-fundraising fatigue,” he said.

“This has been going on for years, this cancer thing.”

Just after he was diagnosed, Halliday ran into an old friend at Food Fair.

“We had the classic Yukon conversation,” he said.

Halliday asked his friend how he was doing, and learned the transmission was gone in his friend’s pick-up.

“Yeah, I’ve got cancer,” said Halliday.

And the friend responded, “Man, cancer — haven’t they cured that yet?”

People have seen so many TV ads and bought so many daffodils, they’re ready for results, said Halliday.

“But the message I really want to tell you is a message of hope, because for Hodgkin’s lymphoma and a few other kinds of cancer they actually use the word cure.

“They cure 80 to 90 per cent of folks. And the work you’re doing here as volunteers, as fundraisers, as people who are coming out to lunch and paying a few bucks, is really, really important.”

It was the territory’s first daffodil lunch in five years, and the Westmark ballroom was packed.

“They asked me during my job interview last June if I would bring back the lunch,” said Cancer Society regional manager Scott Kent.

“And I told them I would, so I didn’t have much choice,” he said with a laugh.

After plates were loaded with roast beef and potatoes, Vancouver’s Dr. Calvin Roskelley took the podium.

The breast cancer specialist promised to speak in lay terms, while explaining his research.

That lasted about five minutes.

The gist of it  — Roskelley is attacking cancer through the backdoor.

Instead of fighting just the tumours, he is mapping where cancerous genes travel, and developing treatments to stop the growth.

“I’m looking at roadblocks,” said Roskelley.

“Most cancer research is focused on cell growth and division. There aren’t many good models of cells breaking away and spreading.”

Roskelley has been researching cancer for more than 20 years.

As a student, his work was partially funded by the cancer society.

Then he moved to the US.

But south of the border, funding was scarce.

And Roskelley came back.

“I can’t say I came back just for the funding,” he said.

“But money from daffodil sales and relays was a big part of it.”

The Yukon Cancer Society made between $4,000 and $5,000 at Thursday’s luncheon, said Kent.

And with relays, the society has earned more than $160,000.

“A total of $300,000 for cancer research has come out of the Yukon,” he said.