Push for PET scanner continues
By: John Lappa - Sudbury Star
| Thursday, August 21, 2014 9:29:11 EDT AM
Eric Dupras, 11, had his head shaved in support of the Northeast Cancer Centre at the cancer centre in Sudbury on Wednesday. Eric decided to have his head shaved to support his great-uncle Gilles Laframboise, who has lung cancer. Eric and his family raised $650 for the Sam Bruno PET Scan Fund.
Sudbury PET scan committee keeps plugging away
By: Carol Mulligan - Sudbury Star
| Friday, August 15, 2014 9:26:20 EDT AM
The spokeswoman for the Sam Bruno PET Steering Committee is calling on provincial health authorities to work with Health Sciences North to provide people in northeastern Ontario with a life-saving diagnostic scanner closer to home.
Brenda Tessaro appealed Thursday for the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and the North East Local Health Integration Network to "come together in a spirit of co-operation and resolution with our hospital" to install a positron emission tomography scanner in the Northeast.
Tessaro spoke on behalf of the committee, after the Sudbury Police Association presented the group with a cheque for $10,000 at the Caruso Club.
The committee has been working for four years to raise money for a PET scanner in northeastern Ontario. PET is a test that uses a special type of camera and a radioactive chemical to look at organs and tissues in the body.
A PET scan can help doctors find nervous system problems such as Alzheimer's disease and evaluate some cancers, especially lymphoma or cancers of the head and neck, brain, lung, colon or prostate.
A PET scan can also detect poor blood flow to the heart, indicating coronary disease.
Tessaro and the committee are carrying on the work of Sudbury resident Sam Bruno, who died in 2010 at age 55, after a two-year battle with colorectal cancer.
Bruno travelled to Toronto for two PET scans, and for experimental cancer treatment. He fought until his death for a PET scanner in Sudbury, launching a petition drive that has garnered more than 20,000 signatures.
Sudbury hospital officials estimated several years ago it would cost more than $3.5 million for a PET scanner and that was without the cost to install it.
A group of officials from the hospital and the Northern Cancer Centre studied the operational cost and questioned if enough PET scans could be done in the northeast to pay to operate it.
Tessaro pointed to the City of Ottawa, which has a population of 900,000 and two PET scanners. She pointed out the northeast has "zero PET scanners per 570,000 people."
Ottawa has created a viable sustainable business plan to maintain two scanners with that population.
The donation from the Sudbury Police Association, which represents 400 officers, puts the Sam Bruno PET Steering Committee over the $500,000 mark in its fund-raising.
Tessaro thanked the association for helping the committee in its challenge to raise the money to purchase a PET scanner.
"Our region is comprised of numerous challenges," said Tessaro.
"Our region is challenged geographically covering over 400,000 square kilometres. "Our region is challenged by its population density of 570,000 spread over that 400,000 square kilometres.
"Our region is challenged by the highest cancer death rate in the province of Ontario.
"Our region is challenged by a government which chooses to ignore these challenges and puts us on the same level playing field as other regions in the province without these challenges," she said.
A PET scanner can help with an aging demographic and rising health-care costs by avoiding misdiagnoses, unnecessary surgeries, ineffective treatments and unnecessary lengthy hospital stays, she said.
Randy Buchowski, president of the Sudbury Police Association, said the Sam Bruno PET fund was raised as a cause worth supporting by Jack Sivazlian, second vice-president of the association.
A PET scanner would benefit the entire community as well as the association's members, said Buchowski.
"We have had some of our own members who have experienced (cancer), who have beat it, and it's awesome," he said.
The association donates about $50,000 to a dozen community organizations every year, chief among them the Sudbury Cadets.
"We try to give to organizations that can benefit anybody at any time," said Buchowski.
Cheryl Bruno, Sam Bruno's widow and a member of the Sam Bruno PET Steering Committee, was grateful for the donation from the city's men and women in blue.
Whether it's a $10,000 cheque from police officers or a $10 in memoriam donation, all contributions are appreciated, said Bruno.
When asked if the committee gets frustrated raising money for a piece of equipment that is slow to materialize, Bruno said no.
"We do get discouraged, but you know what? We think about the cause and what it is for and we know it's important for us to get one and we just disregard it."
Reaching the half-million-dollar mark is a huge milestone the committee couldn't imagine reaching when it started four years ago.
"It's mind-boggling," said Bruno.