Coquitlam siblings raise nearly $100,000 for research after their mother died of rare cancer

Published: July 29, 2013

Photo of Sarabjit Gill, who died of endometrial cancer in April 2011. Submitted photo/B.C. Cancer Foundation

CHERYL CHAN
VANCOUVER DESI

Three Coquitlam siblings who lost their mother to an aggressive cancer has raised more than $90,000 for the B.C. Cancer Agency.

Sarabjit Gill was healthy prior to her diagnosis of endometrial cancer in April 2011. By the time it was discovered, the cancer had spread.

“It was a very aggressive form of cancer,” said daughter Mandeep. “There were no treatment options.”

Gill died two and a half weeks after her diagnosis. She was 56.

During that time, Gill showed “incredible strength and unwavering belief in God,” wrote the family on its B.C. Cancer Foundation fundraising page.

“Our mom, who was always an emotional and empathetic person, did not shed a single tear during this very difficult time. She remained heroically brave and selfless for her family.”

Gill’s children — Mandeep, Jag and Manpreet — wanted to honour her memory and launched a fundraiser in July 2011. They wanted to support local research projects on gynecological cancers, which do not get as much media attention as other types of cancers, said Mandeep.

The family donated $15,000 to kick-start the Sarabjit Gill Memorial Fund. Thanks to generous donors, they quickly surpassed their initial goal of $50,000.

Endometrial cancer is the most common form of uterine cancer. It starts in the endometrium, the lining of the uterus.

About 3,900 Canadian women are diagnosed with uterine cancer each year, with a survival rate of 80 per cent.

Researchers say endometrial cancer has been understudied, despite being the fourth most common cancer among Canadian women. There is also no reliable screening test to detect the cancer. PAP smears, used to detect cervical cancer, can be hit-and-miss.

The majority of the funds — $80,000 — are earmarked for a project to study changes in the genetic structures of endometrial tumours, which will help scientists learn more about the disease and better equip them to guide treatment options for patients.

L to R: Dr. Max Coppes, President of the BC Cancer Agency, the Gill family, and Douglas Nelson, President and CEO of the BC Cancer Foundation. Submitted photo/B.C. Cancer Foundation

The other $10,000 will be used towards another future project.

The family plans to continue with the fundraiser, with a goal of hitting $100,000 mark at the end of this year.

For more information on the Sarabjit Gill Memorial Fund, click here.

chchan@theprovince.com
twitter.com/cherylchan

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