Over a decade ago, Rod Senft received a devastating diagnosis: prostate cancer. The disease runs in the family and the experience infused him and his wife Jeannie with a sense of urgency that would reverberate over time.

“It hit us both really hard, not just because of the treatment itself, but also because we could have caught it earlier had we only been more aware,” recall Rod and Jeannie. “And we realized the risks to our whole family. What it means if one of our two sons got sick; the heartache to our daughter; and the repercussions down the generations if the disease got passed to our grandchildren and great-grandchildren.”

Dr. Larry Goldenberg and Dr. Martin Gleave’s team of experts at the Vancouver Prostate Centre (VPC) saved Rod’s life. It was here that he received the care he needed so he could go back spending more time with his family and loved ones. It was here that brilliant researchers discovered the breakthrough treatments that gave him – and so many people like him –  the chance to live longer, fuller lives in spite of their cancer diagnosis. And it was here, in 2010, where Rod and Jeannie’s philanthropic journey with VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation truly began.

“We’re so tremendously grateful for all the hospital did for us, for all of the team’s support; and while our own health journey continues, we wanted to give back as a way to say thank you for keeping our family alive and well,” says the couple.

Soon, their son Riley took up the family mantle and organized Step-Into-Action in his quest to save the lives of future prostate cancer patients by focusing on awareness and early detection. From May to October 2011, Riley ran 60km each day across the country, from coast to coast, and raised over $1,000,000 for VPC.

Inspired by his success, Rod and Jeannie deepened their involvement with the Foundation’s Mr. Lube Tournament for Life golf charity event. In 2016, after Rod and his family shared their inspirational story at the event, the tournament raised a then record-breaking $570,000 for the world-leading work of the VPC, helping it acquire critical equipment to care for patients with prostate cancer.

Over the years, Rod and Jeannie witnessed how these gifts fuelled the ongoing ground-breaking discoveries that came out of the VPC; discoveries that translated into ever better diagnostic and treatments methods that saved, extended and improved more and more lives.

“We’re so inspired by our son Riley, and experiencing first-hand the collective power of philanthropy in effecting transformational change. And we’re inspired by medical visionaries like Drs. Martin Gleave and Larry Goldenberg, who push health care boundaries with innovative science that improves outcomes for patients.”

VPC is now recognized as one of the top facilities in North America focused on translational discoveries that turn into viable new treatments. Yet their extraordinary work has only just begun. At this momentous junction, Drs. Martin Gleave and Larry Goldenberg have a bigger, bolder vision: a world-renowned Institute of Urologic Sciences that leverages VPC’s core infrastructure and research success beyond prostate cancer to impact all areas of urology, including  kidney, bladder, pelvic and sexual health,  and some of the most common ailments suffered by men, woman and children. And first to hear of this powerful vision were none others than the Senfts.

“When we heard about it, we immediately thought: What an unprecedented opportunity to invest in discovery!”

Thus, in 2022, the two became Co-Chairs of an ambitious $35M campaign, spearheaded by VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation, to elevate VPC to new heights.

“We want to take a leap forward and fund those brilliant minds that flourish in an exceptional ecosystem like we have at VPC  – not just bricks and mortars, but a critical mass of top talent that can advance urology disease treatments,” say the Senfts.

Thanks to the Senfts commitment to the cause, the campaign has become a symbol of how philanthropy can galvanize an entire community to drive a healthier future for the city and for people across the globe; to elevate the talent of physicians and scientists to improve the patient experience and outcomes beyond prostate cancer to encompass all urologic conditions. In its ample scope, it yields greater hope of discovering a cure not only for the Senft family, but for future generations of theirs and others.

“I’m humbled by Rod and Jeannie’s’ dedication to the cause, and their leadership and support of the campaign”, says Dr. Martin Gleave, Director, VPC. “Together, we’ll move the needle on how we treat patients across the spectrum of urology; we’ll attract, recruit and retain top talent to an elite organization that can propel new discoveries in prostate, kidney, bladder, pelvic, sexual and urologic health; and hopefully we’ll bring us closer to cures for so many diseases.”

Today, the Senfts generosity is continuing with their single largest gift made as a family to any given cause. “We are delighted and grateful to announce that Rod and Jeannie Senft have committed a $5M leadership gift to the campaign”, says Angela Chapman, President and CEO, VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation. “It takes the collective power of philanthropy to change what was a devastating diagnosis into one with treatment options that extend and improve one’s quality of life. Philanthropy makes for better patient care here in BC, but also drives breakthroughs and treatments made in BC for the rest of the world.”

Rod and Jeannie are now urging others to join a cause that is bigger than any one individual’s contributions to maximize its impact.

“We invite the public to rally behind the mission to revolutionize urologic care and research in Vancouver. Together, we can change patient outcomes in Canada and around the world.”, say the Senfts. “Philanthopy is contagious, it matters, and it makes a unique, exciting difference to your lives. Let’s help bring this vision to life.”

Learn more at vghfoundation.ca/urology.