Witnessing numerous family members and friends navigate the difficult journey through cancer treatments inspired John Porter to do what he could to help. The 88-year-old named the Alberta Cancer Foundation in his will, designating a portion of his estate to cancer research with the hope that one day a cure will be found.
Porter knows the prevalence of cancer firsthand. He lost his wife, twin brother and father to cancer and has been at the sides of many other family members and friends as they underwent cancer treatments.
“[Cancer] is such a demon, isn’t it? It can strike anyone,” he says. Watching his loved ones suffer motivated Porter to give back, as did his knowledge of the researchers and doctors his donation will benefit.
Porter’s wife of 52 years, Virginia, received treatment at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre in Calgary for nearly 13 years. She was treated for uterine cancer in 1987 and nine years later developed bone cancer, eventually receiving a terminal diagnosis and dying in January 2000. “[The staff members at the Tom Baker Cancer Clinic] have been very passionate about their work and their research and their patient relationships. They were extremely kind to my wife, and that’s a factor too,” he says of his decision to include the Alberta Cancer Foundation in his will.
While Porter makes an annual donation to the Tom Baker Cancer Clinic every December, his designation of a share of his estate to cancer research means continued support for finding a cure.
“I thought they are doing such good work at the Alberta Cancer Foundation that it would be kind of a legacy for the family,” he says.
Patrick Kirby is also leaving a legacy gift, having designated in his will a specific dollar amount to the Cross Cancer Institute in Edmonton. Kirby is a semi-retired partner with Felesky Flynn LLP, covering a wide array of tax matters including estate planning. He knows what goes into designating such a gift from both a professional and personal perspective.
“Like virtually everybody, cancer has touched me,” says Kirby. His son underwent treatment for testicular cancer and his father died of liver cancer. Kirby spent a significant amount of time at the Cross Cancer Institute as his son underwent treatment, an experience that motivated his decision to include the Alberta Cancer Foundation in his will. “I spent a lot of time up there, and the people were just so fabulous that I wanted to do a little bit to help.”
Kirby notes that a will can be revised at any time, as long as you still have the capacity to do so. While there is a specific dollar amount on his donation, it is an amount that he hopes to change and increase in the coming years. “In the future, if things go good for me and continue, then I’ll be able to increase it,” he says.
He advises people to let family members know of such donations “so that there are no surprises” – something he did by reading his will to his family at a Sunday dinner. “I said, ‘I’m telling you this because it’s not really coming from me…. It’s really you guys that are going to be the ones making this donation because it reduces the amount of your inheritance.’” Kirby’s idea received great reception from his family, who understood and supported his decision completely.