Looking Back on the History of the Lymphoma Foundation Canada
Joseph M Connors, MD, CM
17 February 2023
In 1997 Patricia Manson, a young mother still looking forward to raising her young children in partnership with her devoted husband, realized something was wrong. The energy she had always been able to bring to family and community events had drained away, and simply getting through her, her children’s, and her husband’s busy days had come to seem impossible. Nearby family, including an internist and a public health physician, persuaded her to seek medical attention, which quickly led to a diagnosis of advanced stage aggressive non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and referral to the lymphoma team at the BC Cancer center in Vancouver. There, under the supervision of Dr. Joseph Connors, leader of the center’s Lymphoma Tumor Group, Pat began chemotherapy with a characteristic resolution, anticipating a rapid response and recovery. Initially, the treatment went well, her energy returned, and a durable remission seemed likely; however, the good response did not last. The lymphoma returned and within months had taken her life.
Pat Manson was not one to accept discouraging news quietly. She quickly turned her disappointment at having the lymphoma relapse into a firm determination to find ways to improve not only her personal chances for a cure but also the chances of other Canadians. She discovered that two organizations in the United States had recently been formed to support research into treatments for lymphoma, the Lymphoma Research Foundation of America on the east coast and the Cure for Lymphoma Foundation on the west. After discussions with the founders of those two groups, Pat decided that Canadian patients needed a similar research-supporting organization. With the encouragement of Dr. Connors and the support of her husband and family during her last few months before dying in 1998, Pat founded the Lymphoma Research Foundation Canada (LRFC). Initially meeting in Dr. Connors’ home, Pat’s husband and two physician relatives launched the LRFC.
Inspired by Pat’s own words as read at her memorial service, family friend Murray Tevlin led his folk-pop band Raindogs to produce Strong (for Pat), with sales of the CD in local and later national stores providing some of the initial funding for the LRFC, soon complemented by donations from others affected by lymphoma.
In an interesting parallel with the United States, Canada also saw the founding of two organizations, the LRFC in the west, and the Canadian Lymphoma Foundation in the east, both with the purpose of providing patient support, educational materials about lymphoma, and national advocacy for lymphoma patients. The two foundations merged in 2000 to become the Lymphoma Foundation Canada (now Lymphoma Canada). In addition to its roles in patient support and education, and national advocacy, Lymphoma Canada also supports lymphoma research and, in particular, research fellowships that help launch the careers of future leaders in the field. Pat would have been delighted that the first Lymphoma Canada research fellowship was awarded to Dr. Stephen Kenezovich at the Vancouver center of BC Cancer, shown here with Dr. Connors and Pat’s husband.
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