BC Cancer - Fall 2017 - 10

Continued from page 9

evolution in real time. So what are
the biological underpinnings of this
behaviour? We have the ability to
know that. We can measure the consequences of this evolution. Genomics
gives us a powerful measurement tool
to study treatment-resistant disease."
Dr. Marra and his colleagues strive
to share the knowledge they are gaining. Medical oncologist Dr. Janessa
Laskin leads the clinical side of POG
and has been instrumental in training 80 per cent of medical oncologists
in the province to evaluate and use
whole genome analysis for treatment
planning. The POG approach thus has
the potential to benefit patients suffering from different cancers.
Dr. Marra sees great promise in POG
and new hope for cancer patients in
the future: "POG has revealed to us
that perhaps 80 per cent of patients
whose cancers were previously
thought of as untreatable may in fact
have a treatment option based on a
rationale, rooted in genomic analysis.
Is this genomic rationale in fact 'evidence' for a new way of thinking
about cancer? Can such treatments bring benefit to cancer
populations? These questions must now be

Joe Biegel with wife Naomi
and children Isaac and Sara.



Cancer caught Joe Biegel by surprise. "I was shocked because I
thought only heavy smokers or coal
miners got lung cancer," Joe says.
But after a chest cold that wouldn't
go away, Joe's family doctor sent
him for an X-ray and a lung biopsy
that confirmed that he had nonsmall cell lung cancer.
At first, it seemed that Joe, an
avid photographer and collector
of vintage camera gear, might be a
candidate for radiation and chemotherapy, but a PET scan indicated
his cancer had spread beyond his
lungs. "Fortunately, my oncologist,
Dr. Janessa Laskin, had asked for
a test of the biopsy and learned
that I had the EGFR mutation,"
Joe says. "This enabled me to go
on a targeted treatment path."
But after a year, the treatment
stopped working effectively and
Joe underwent radiation
and chemotherapy.

Originally from Massachusetts, Joe
grew up learning about photography from his father, who owned a
local camera store. A varied career
eventually led Joe to Waterloo,
Ontario, and then Vancouver, with
his wife, Naomi, a jeweler. Their
daughter, Sara, is now in university
and son Isaac is finishing grade 8.
"We had decided to give living in
B.C. a try for a 'couple of years'
and that was 13 years ago. We're
hooked on living here. As a family,
we like going to the Vancouver Folk
Festival and hiking in Deep Cove to
'earn' a donut," Joe says.
Vancouver also turned out to be
a fortunate place for Joe's cancer treatment. He recently joined
the Personalized Onco-Genomics
(POG) Program. "Having insights
from POG has given me a more
positive outlook and the fact that
Dr. Laskin and the BC Cancer care
team will be able to use this data
for ongoing research is very exciting," Joe says.
The significance of the POG
Program for all cancer patients
isn't lost on Joe: "POG is a cuttingedge, world-class program that we
have right here in our backyard.
It has made a difference in my life
already, and I have no doubt that
with continued support, POG will
improve the outcomes of many
patients. Knowing that my results
will give BC Cancer the best possible information to guide my treatment has made me feel much
more positive about
the future."
"We are blessed with incredible technology and facilities
in Vancouver, as well as the
BC Cancer Agency staff that
exist to make a difference in
the lives of cancer patients,"
Joe says. "Each one is a rock
star in my book."


Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of BC Cancer - Fall 2017

BC Cancer - Fall 2017
Opening Thoughts
Healthy Insights
Why I Give
Researcher Profi le
Dr. Marco Marra says “now is the time”
Testing to prevent cancer in families
Counselling program helps families affected by cancer to cope
Legacy Giving
Regional Roundup
BC Cancer - Fall 2017 - BC Cancer - Fall 2017
BC Cancer - Fall 2017 - 2
BC Cancer - Fall 2017 - Contents
BC Cancer - Fall 2017 - Healthy Insights
BC Cancer - Fall 2017 - 5
BC Cancer - Fall 2017 - Why I Give
BC Cancer - Fall 2017 - Researcher Profi le
BC Cancer - Fall 2017 - Dr. Marco Marra says “now is the time”
BC Cancer - Fall 2017 - 9
BC Cancer - Fall 2017 - 10
BC Cancer - Fall 2017 - Testing to prevent cancer in families
BC Cancer - Fall 2017 - Counselling program helps families affected by cancer to cope
BC Cancer - Fall 2017 - 13
BC Cancer - Fall 2017 - Legacy Giving
BC Cancer - Fall 2017 - Regional Roundup
BC Cancer - Fall 2017 - 16