Meet the Londoners working to make a meaningful difference in our community
Dr. Ron Komar, Dr. Kylea Potvin, Wendy Komar
Passion: Access Cancer Therapies (ACT) Now
ACCESS CANCER THERAPIES (ACT) Now was established nine years ago by Dr. Kylea Potvin and Kathleen Myers to help patients at London Regional Cancer Program pay for cancer treatments not covered by Ontario’s health insurance plan and that they could not otherwise afford. It is a volunteer-driven initiative, funded solely by donations and fundraising efforts, with 100 per cent of funds being used to purchase drug therapies and other direct patient expenses.
For the past eight years, Dr. Ron and Wendy Komar have been involved in organizing ACT Now’s two major annual fundraising events—a summer Smash & Drive tennis and golf event at Greenhills Golf & Country Club, and a winter Taste of Italy wine pairing dinner at Dolcetto.
“Kathleen and I were the initial drivers, and Ron and Wendy have taken it to the next level,” says Dr. Kylea Potvin, a medical oncologist at the London Regional Cancer Program who was moved to start Access Cancer Therapies (ACT) Now after losing a young mother to cancer—even though an effective cutting-edge biologic therapy was available—because her family did not have thousands of dollars to pay for the treatment.
“After weeks of reaching out and scraping together every dollar that could be found, her husband showed up at the doors of our Cancer Centre, money in hand, ready to buy the treatment,” says Potvin. “That was the day that she died. Imagine that you or one of your loved ones has cancer, and the state-of-the-art treatment that might help is simply out of reach because of its cost. Believe it or not, this is what happens to Canadians of all ages each and every day.”
Potvin was determined to raise money to help other patients who found themselves in that situation, and a conversation over dinner with the Komars fuelled their determination to help.
“The Komars have literally volunteered hundreds of hours. From heading our committee of volunteers to gathering donations for the live and silent auctions, they have been the driving force behind our fundraising events,” says Potvin. “Wendy is one of the most organized people I know, and I call Ron a compassionate go-getter. Last year’s event at Greenhills raised $80,000.”
The Komars are quick to praise Potvin for her dedication to cancer patients and to recognize the number of volunteer hours she contributes to keep it running. And they continue to be moved by stories of families that have benefitted from ACT Now funding. “Not everybody has health insurance,” says Dr. Komar. “I can’t see not supporting someone who needs treatment and can’t afford it.”
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