Janice Perrino, Nanaimo and District Hospital Foundation chief executive officer, left, and Rebecca Taylor, communications director, are out to Light the Trees and raise $1 million throughout December to build a new endoscopy suite at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. (CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin)

Nanaimo hospital Christmas fundraiser looks to raise $1 million for new surgical suite

4th annual Light the Trees campaign supports colon cancer research

The Nanaimo & District Hospital Foundation is hosting its 4th annual Light the Trees Christmas campaign in order to fundraise for a new surgical suite that would help in their battle against colon cancer.

The cost of the new suite is $1.5 million, and the foundation says they’ve already raised $500,000, leaving them with a goal of $1 million.

The more money is donated, the more Christmas lights will be lit up on the trees at the Nanaimo Regional General Hospital’s entrance.

According to a release by the hospital foundation, over 3,500 people wait up to a year for a colonoscopy in the Nanaimo area.

Statistically speaking, between 30 and 40 people on that list will have undiagnosed colon cancer, which the foundation says is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in Canada.

READ MORE: Doctor shortage remains ‘critical’ in Parksville Qualicum Beach

“We’re currently receiving about 50 new requests for an endoscopic procudure, mostly a colonoscopy, every day. And we can only do 10 to 20,” said general surgeon at NRGH Dr. Daniel Jenkin in a release.

The foundation says that colonoscopies can remove precancerous polyps before they turn into cancer. Early diagnosis of colon cancer makes the disease highly treatable.

“Nanaimo has had an enormous unmet need for endoscopic infrastructure for a long time. We are the largest centre that I can think of, and certainly in British Columbia without a gastroenterologist currently,” said Jenkins.

With the new suite, the foundation would be able to recruit two new gastroenterologists.

“Which will improve both our ability to diagnose colon cancer with more access to colonoscopy, but also care for inflammatory bowel disease such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease,” said Jenkins.

Anyone wishing to donate funds can head to www.nanaimohospitalfoundation.com/light-the-trees/.

emily.vance@pqbnews.com

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