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Cancer Care Here at Home Campaign celebrates closing and the announcement of a PET CT for Cape Breton Island.

Donors, friends and supporters of the Cape Breton Regional Hospital Foundation’s Cancer Care Here at Home campaign gathered in Membertou on Wednesday evening to celebrate the success and closing of the campaign.

The campaign – the largest in the Foundation’s 39-year history – surpassed its $10 million goal and raised $15,054,053 to support Cape Breton’s new Cancer Centre, currently under construction and set to operate in 2026.

Funds raised during the Cancer Care Here at Home campaign helped to secure the purchase of 14 new pieces of equipment, with more to be purchased; create a new research and innovation fund to expand the current research being done at the Cape Breton Cancer Centre; and sustain and expand direct patient support programming which currently supports up to 75 patients each month.

Chief Terry Paul, CEO and Chief of the community of Membertou; Paula MacNeil, CEO of the Cape Breton Regional Hospital Foundation; and Mike McPhee, Cancer Care Here at Home Campaign Chair, unveil the total fundraised to a crowd of 200 at the Membertou Trade and Convention Centre gathered on Wednesday evening.

“I am overflowing with gratitude for every individual who helped to make the Cancer Care Here at Home campaign a resounding success,” says Paula MacNeil, CEO, Cape Breton Regional Hospital Foundation. “More than 5,100 donors in our community and beyond have supported our goal of transforming cancer care for the people of Cape Breton. This campaign took many hands and is ours, as a community, to celebrate. Thank you!”

Along with celebrating the impacts of the campaign, guests celebrated as The Honourable Premier of Nova Scotia, Tim Houston, announced that a PET CT – a diagnostic imaging tool used frequently for cancer care – will come to Cape Breton for the first time.

“This is great news for the people of Cape Breton,” says Premier Tim Houston. “With the addition of a PET CT scanner, patients in the area will be able to stay much closer to home, getting the cancer care they need through all stages of treatment, right here on the island. I thank the foundation for their efforts, along with the generous contributions of donors through this campaign, that have brought us here today.”

A PET CT is a specialized imaging test that looks at tissues and organs and can identify disease before showing on other imaging tests like CT scans and MRIs. Currently, the only PET CT in the province is in Halifax, meaning patients in Cape Breton and surrounding areas must travel five or more hours to receive these scans.

It is estimated that by 2026, more than 800 Cape Bretoners will need to travel to Halifax for a PET CT.

The addition of this technology will be the first of its kind for the Cape Breton Regional Hospital and will help to eliminate barriers to health care. The PET CT will remove the burden of distance for patients of Nova Scotia Health’s Eastern Zone, while increasing capacity in the Central Zone and reducing wait times across the province.

“I am proud to hear the announcement of a PET CT for the Cape Breton Regional Hospital,” says Mike McPhee, Cancer Care Here at Home Campaign Chair. “It is something the Foundation and our Campaign Cabinet, with the support of our partners at Nova Scotia Health, have been working on throughout the campaign. To see our vision become a reality as we close the campaign is so exciting. I’d like to thank Premier Houston for his unwavering dedication to this project and for ensuring equitable access to specialized diagnostic imaging for the island.”

The Cape Breton Regional Hospital Foundation has made a financial commitment to support the purchase of a PET CT for Nova Scotia Health’s Eastern Zone.

“I want to thank the Cape Breton Regional Hospital Foundation along with our Cancer Care & Diagnostic Imaging teams, and numerous local physicians for their efforts and advocacy for a PET CT scanner for Cape Breton,” said Brett MacDougall, VP Operations, Eastern Zone, Nova Scotia Health. “This PET CT will not only create greater access for all Nova Scotians, but reduce lengthy travel for patients across the island.”

The current Cape Breton Cancer Centre was constructed in 1998 to sustain 16,000 visits each year. Since that time the number has nearly tripled, and today, the Centre sees more than 45,000 patient visits annually.

It is estimated that a PET CT will arrive in Cape Breton by 2028. The technology will be housed in the old (current) Cape Breton Cancer Centre, where existing bunkers will be repurposed.

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