University of Alberta students raise money for ovarian cancer research in honour of professor

A group of students at the University of Alberta is raising money for ovarian cancer research.

It’s a tribute to their professor, Patricia Gainer, who was diagnosed with the disease earlier this year.

Her prognosis is severe.

“When someone you care about is diagnosed with ovarian cancer, you feel helpless,” fourth-year dental hygiene student Alanna Blanchette said Sunday.

“We saw this as an opportunity to support her and let her know she wasn’t fighting this battle alone.”

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As part of the Ovarian Cancer Canada Walk of Hope, Blanchette and her classmates formed “Team 4 Fighters.”

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Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, instead of one big event this year, teams organized individual walks.

Their loop passed right by Gainer’s house.

“Seeing her reaction to us doing this as well as being able to give back has really been a bright spot in a very weird year,” fourth-year dental hygiene student Alicia Howery said.

“Professor Gainer has been one of those instructors that I think really made a mark on all of us.”

University of Alberta dental hygiene students hold signs in support of their professor who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
University of Alberta dental hygiene students hold signs in support of their professor who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.Les Knight / Global News

Gainer has been a dental hygiene professor at the U of A for nearly four decades.

“She’s a big support for the university,” Blanchette said.

“She’s fundamental to the staff there and she’s been a big helper in creating who we are as a dental hygiene class.”

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Thousands of people in 35 communities across Canada take part in the annual walk. It’s raised nearly $30 million since it started almost 20 years ago.

As of late Sunday afternoon, Blanchette and her team have raised more than $16,000.

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“Give a little hope to cancer fighters everywhere that there [are] people here who care,” she said.

Blanchette said Gainer is sure to leave a lasting impact on many, including her.

“She’s bubbly and kind to everyone she meets and I think that’s really what we take away that no act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted,” she said.

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