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Foundation forward

Palliative care physician launches foundation to support people facing end of life
Foundation forward

Paul Sugar Palliative Support Foundation Launch, Sunday, Nov. 3, 4-8 p.m. at Two Lions Public House. By donation.

A North Shore palliative care physician is going beyond the call of duty to ensure local residents facing end of life have an opportunity to connect with loved ones and feel supported, despite any financial challenges they may face.

Dr. Paul Sugar, an award-winning and long serving medical professional who works in Lions Gate Hospital's chemotherapy clinic and palliative care ward, as well as at the North Shore Hospice, has teamed up with Dr. Marylene Kyriazis, a consultant clinical pharmacist working in the field of pain management, to co-found the Paul Sugar Palliative Support Foundation.

Its mission is to provide assistance to people with a terminal illness who are in financial need, in the form of volunteer support, accommodation for them or visiting family members, transportation costs, medical supplies and equipment, or home help and companionship.

Working closely in palliative care, the founders felt a strong need for those types of support and felt confident they could address it by teaming up, says Kyriazis.

Sugar has more than 30 years of experience in supporting patients and families at Lions Gate, hearing their personal stories and the specific challenges they've faced.

"I really love what I do," he says. "I really feel for the people I treat. The ones who have the added burden of financial concerns at the end of their lives, it's not something I can cure, but maybe I can help it by doing this and that's the reason for it. I'm hoping that people can feel supported and some of the things that they need at the end of their lives can be given to them. Make it a little easier."

Kyriazis shares Sugar's passion for supporting palliative care patients, and brings experience as a board member on a number of other non-profit societies to the table.

Funds raised will be managed by the Vancouver Foundation and will support Family Services of the North Shore's Connecting a Caring Community, Supporting Quality of Life program. According to the Family Services website, the new community-based volunteer project is focused on improving the quality of life of residents who are marginalized or isolated due to disability, terminal illness or bereavement.

"The volunteers.. .. they're out there and they're seeing people where they live and they're seeing people with what they need and so that's a really good way to discover the people that are slipping through the cracks and not having what they need to make the last days of their lives as good as they can be," says Sugar.

"I think that the volunteers are an important integral part of palliative care," he adds.

Sugar and Kyriazis hope to raise $50,000 in the foundation's first year.

They'll be hosting an official launch and fundraising event Sunday, Nov. 3 at Westview's

Two Lions Public House from 4 to 8 p.m. Sugar is considering cutting off his 25-year-old ponytail in a show of support to the cause. He's leaving the decision up to donors, who are asked to weigh in on whether he should cut or keep his signature look when making their contributions. There is also an online poll on the foundation's website: "To cut or not to cut Paul Sugar's ponytail?" The event's dress code is flannel shirt and jeans, representative of Sugar's unofficial work uniform.

The foundation accepts a number of types of donations, including monetary, gifts of publicly traded securities, charitable bequests, air miles or short term accommodation.

Sugar and Kyriazis invite community members to get involved in the foundation in other ways as well, for example, coming on as a board member.

Both are hopeful for the organization's potential.

"We know that the community is there to support our endeavours to help patients and their families during this delicate and vulnerable time in their lives," says Kyriazis.

"I think it's a good thing when a community can pull together and try and make things better. That's a great thing," adds Sugar.