Groundbreaking proton therapy comes to Edmonton with centre named after Ben Stelter

Photo credit:Mike Stelter
Zach Laing
1 month ago
A groundbreaking form of cancer therapy will come to Edmonton and the centre to house it is set to be named after the late Ben Stelter.
The soon-to-be-built Ben Stelter Centre for Proton Therapy and Neuroscience will become home to Canada’s first proton therapy machine, a form of cancer treatment that Ben’s father, Mike, underwent in the United States last year.
Proton therapy is an “advanced and highly precise radiation treatment for tumors,” according to Johns Hopkins University, which “focuses more energy on the tumor itself with less radiation to surrounding healthy tissue.”
“It was difficult to put into words how hard it was to be separated from my family for nine weeks,” Stelter said at a Thursday announcement. “It puts an incredible strain on the family, along with a tremendous financial burden.
“It’s very important to us to ensure that if the Ben Stelter Foundation name is on anything, it needs to be world-class and supported by an all-star team, and I think we have this here today.”
Ashif Mawji, Chair of the Ben Stelter Foundation, said the facility will treat both pediatric and adult cancer patients, and that plans are already in the works for more centres like this across Canada and the world.
“There are some other countries outside of the U.S. that are very interested in this too,” Mawji said, “And they’ll all have the same Ben Stelter name.”
It’s been invested in by WestCan Proton Therapy Inc., whose CEO Gordon Baltzer, says a community approach has helped bring the technology north of the border.
“We couldn’t be more proud of our clinical, research, and industry partners who are bringing their experience, excellence, and expertise to this project,” he said. “At WestCan, we are dedicated to providing the very best in cancer treatment. This facility will ensure that proton therapy is accessible for all Canadians and will serve as a model for future projects around the world.
“This project has been an all-of-community approach. We are so grateful for the Ben Stelter Foundation, the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation, the Province of Alberta, Edmonton Global, and the many other Edmonton region partners that have supported this project.”
The centre, which is expected to be up and running in 2027, represents roughly $120-million in investment and is expected to create more than 250 jobs during construction and up to 100 permanent jobs when the facility is up and running.
In the UK, the University of Leeds recently launched a trial into the “groundbreaking proton beam therapy,” and are recruiting cancer patients across the country.

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@thenationnetwork.com.

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