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by Chi Nguyen 

Princess Margaret Hospital is building a radiation suite to commemorate the fundraising efforts of a recent Ryerson graduate.

Katie Coristine, the vice-president and events co-ordinator of the Lisa Coristine Brave Heart Foundation, is only $10,000 short of raising a quarter of a million dollars for the hospital’s radiation oncology research program. The radio and television arts alumna set the ambitious goal four years ago, when her sister Lisa was diagnosed with brain cancer.

Princess Margaret Hospital expects the new suite will be completed in spring 2006 and will name it after Lisa and the Brave Heart Foundation.

Along with her other sister Jennifer, the foundation’s president, Katie has raised $240,000 to research and develop intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT).

IMRT does not damage healthy tissue surrounding tumours in the body and keeps the majority of the patients’ senses intact while they undergo radiation treatments.

The Brave Heart foundation held its fourth annual walkathon Oct.2 at the G. Ross Lord Park and raised $25,000.

Founded in the fall of 2002, when Lisa had to undergo her first radiation treatment, the foundation expected to raise only $500.

Since then, the foundation and the Coristines have come a long way.

Katie said her final year at Ryerson, the year after Lisa passed away, was a blur. She was mourning her sister while preparing to graduate and applying for her current job at eTalk Daily.

“In a lot of ways, (Lisa’s death) made me stronger and allowed me to accomplish so many goals,” said Katie.

“After Lisa’s death, the support for the foundation is still there,” said Jennifer. “The drive behind the foundation is as strong as ever, and we continue to honour her memory.”

Wendy Howze, director of special events at Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation said that she is touched by the sisters’ contribution to IMRT research and development.

“It is an extraordinary effort that Katie and Jennifer have put forward raising money for IMRT,” she said. “Even though they have suffered a tragic loss, they are helping so many more people.”

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