Donors boost research into natural cancer treatments

Research into the use of dandelion root extract to fight cancer is coming too late for Jennifer Ward’s father, but she hopes that in his memory, she can contribute to work to help others.

Earlier this year, Ward sent a $10,000 contribution to biochemistry professor Siyaram Pandey’s Kevin Couvillon Cancer Research Project.

Her father died of colon cancer in August 2012, says Ward, a Calgary resident. She had come across accounts of Dr. Pandey’s research while looking into treatments options for her father.

“My father was treated by chemo and radiation oncologists and surgeons had spoken with him, but all three of these currently available treatments are hard on the body,” she says. “Here you have legitimate research on a potential natural treatment—work that if it is successful, offers cancer patients another option.”

She says she hopes her donation will help the project advance to clinical trial, and notes she is happy to support a cause when she knows exactly how the money will be spent.

“I am not rich by any means,” says Ward, who works as a project management consultant and as a yoga instructor. “I knew what I could afford to contribute, knowing the research isn’t cheap either.”

Pandey says he was very moved by Ward’s generosity.

“I do not have words to express how grateful the members of my team feel,” he says. Students in his lab hosted a reception last week to observe the birthday of Kevin Couvillon, whose 2010 death from leukemia led his family to sponsor Pandey’s research.

The lab has attracted donations from the Seeds4Hope program of the Windsor and Essex County Cancer Centre Foundation, a local branch of the Knights of Columbus, the India-Canada Association and Yoga 4 Life.

“This generosity is extremely humbling and inspiring for my group,” he says.

Doctoral student Pamela Ovadje says she is certainly inspired by community support.

“We are dedicating this work to the memory of Kevin, whose fight keeps us motivated to come up with potential anti-cancer treatments,” she says.