Cancer survivor grateful for new cancer centre in Cape Breton

It's been four years since Lisa MacEachern-Burns got the medical news that changed her life.

"In 2017, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma”, the Sydney River resident recalled.

MacEachern-Burns is a busy mom. At the time of her diagnosis, her two daughters were ages four, and 11 months. She had to have chemotherapy and radiation treatments but was able to receive them at the Cape Breton Cancer Centre in Sydney, rather than travelling back and forth to Halifax.

"I needed to get up in the morning and take care of them and get them off to school and play with them after school, in order for them to stay healthy as well”, MacEachern-Burns said. “So it's not just about me. It's about everybody around me too."

On Friday, the first concrete was poured to start building a brand new cancer centre. It’s expected to help a lot more patients receive care at home.

"Today marks a momentous event”, said Dr. Elwood MacMullin, senior medical director for the Cape Breton Cancer Centre. "[The new facility will] more than double the space that is currently available at the old cancer centre."

Also Friday, there was a huge donation from some of the very people working to build the new centre. A cheque for half a million dollars was presented by members of the Cape Breton Island Building & Construction Trades Council. It’s the largest donation the group has ever made.

"For us, it was a no-brainer”, said Council President Jack Wall. “We said 'You know what? This is what it's all about. When we work on Cape Breton Island, we give back to Cape Breton Island.' And that's why we gave this donation over a five year period."

MacEachern-Burns says even though she's been lucky enough to have beaten the disease, she still goes to the cancer centre for follow-ups. She says getting treatment locally helped her both physically and mentally during her battle, and she's only too happy to know that more patients like her will be able to stay home.

"I don't think I would have had as healthy of a journey had I not been able to be here”, MacEachern-Burns said.

The new Cape Breton Cancer Centre is expected to take about two years to build, with a target opening date of late 2023 or early 2024.

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