Alberta Cancer Foundation

Raising Funds for Lung Cancer Screening

Photograph by Cooper & O’Hara

At Edmonton-based private clinic private clinic Femme Homme Medical, patients are encouraged to take an active approach to their health. Co-founders Ray Yue and Aileen Huynh, a pharmacist and business operator, respectively, opened their clinic doors three years ago with the aim of offering preventive health care and helping patients address their well-being early on.

“As health-care professionals, we’re always trying to look for ways to make a larger impact,” says Yue. “We want to increase health education and scale that impact up.”

Last fall, Femme Homme Medical teamed up with the Alberta Cancer Foundation for a matching fundraiser campaign in support of research into lung cancer screening. The clinic donated a portion of its proceeds to the cause, and challenged local businesses in its network to match its donation amount. In a matter of months, Yue and Huynh raised more than $67,800 and helped the Foundation acquire more than 1,000 new donors.

Yue says health care is often reactive in nature, so he was happy to focus on a fundraising effort that supports a proactive approach.

“People feel sick and they wait until it gets worse,” he says. “Some things creep up on us unknowingly, and cancer is unfortunately one of those things. [This campaign] resonated because we have patients who come to our clinic [when their cancer is already] advanced. It’s very important that we do anything that we can do to save a life, or catch something earlier.”

For every 20 patients diagnosed with lung cancer in Canada, only four are expected to survive. But, according to a recent international study, one in five lung cancer deaths can be prevented by screening. Researchers at the University of Calgary have spent the last year screening Albertans at risk of lung cancer with the aim of researching who needs screening and when. The end goal is to launch the first province-wide lung cancer screening program in Canada.

This was the goal that resonated with Yue and Huynh and their team of physicians at Femme Homme Medical.

“I think the public needs to know and understand at what point of their lives they need to screen for certain cancers and diseases,” says Huynh. “And that they shouldn’t just skip it.”

Yue adds that the fundraising efforts at Femme Homme Medical for this initiative were so successful because his patients and fellow health-care professionals were able to see quite clearly what a lung screening program would mean to everyone facing the disease.

“[Raising the funds was] hugely rewarding,” says Yue. “It’s something that we want to continue to do, because, at the end of the day, it’s so important to educate people on preventive health screening.”

With Femme Homme Medical’s preventive approach, clinicians make personalized plans with patients to alter their lifestyle in an effort to improve their health — be it through nutrition, fitness or mental wellness. “Health isn’t one thing, it’s overall,” says Huynh, adding that everyone is different and the clinic provides services that include genetic screening and heart tests looking for biological risk markers.

“Having the lung cancer screening available to the public is really needed,” adds Huynh. “In the long run, it will save so many lives. That’s why we started a clinic like this, and that’s why we supported this project.”