The History of PCCN - Thunder Bay

September 1994. Two local urologists, Dr. Ankrom and Dr. Rao, solicited the help from some of their patients in forming a Prostate Support Group in Thunder Bay. Six individuals agreed to help.

27 October 1994. An initial meeting was held at the Cancer Clinic at the Port Arthur General Hospital. Drs. Ankrom and Rao chaired the meeting and discussion centered on what the group's mission would be.

31 October 1994. The following met at the home of Doug Exley to make up an agenda for the next two months: Doug Exley, Glen Dugiud, Tony Belluz, Cameron Bell, Fred Humeniuk, Harvey Bulmer, and Gunter Spengler.

November 1994. It was agreed that support group meetings would be held on the third Thursday of every month from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Arrangements were made to use the 55 Plus Centre at 700 River Street for the monthly meetings.

Planning committee meetings were scheduled for the second Thursday of the month in the home of one of the members.

The speakers at the first meeting were Dr. Ankrom and Dr. Rao. An announcement for the meeting was carried on Shaw Cable, and personal contact was made with all known prostate cancer patients. Twelve to 13 men attended the initial meeting in addition to the original planning group members.

December 1995. By the end of December 1995 there were 58 names on the group's membership list.

Steve Dychko, Bill Vantour, and Stan Cano were important in maintaining the support group's continuation during the period prior to incorporation.

August 2002. Letters Patent were issued on August 2, 2002 incorporating the group as the Thunder Bay and Area Prostate Support and Awareness Group.

Summer 2004. Bill Vantour and Bill Neilipovitz travelled to Dryden and Kenora to assist with the organization of local prostate cancer support groups. Additional regional support groups were established over the next year in Hearst, Fort Francis, and Nipigon through the efforts of Bill Vantour, Gunter Spengler and Brian Scott.

March 2005. A teleconference was conducted from the Dryden hospital with Hearst, Dryden, Kenora and Fort Francis participating. Dr. Sunila Gulavita, radiation oncologist at the Thunder Bay Regional Cancer Clinic, was the guest speaker.

June 2007. Jim Hyder, a member of the support group, and with encouragement and some financial support from them, produced the video Talk About It, during the annual Motorcycle Ride for Dads.

September 2007. Dr. Terry Hill, President, and Bill Everitt, Director, represented the Thunder Bay and Area Prostate Support and Awareness Group at the Annual Prostate Cancer Conference held at the Harbour Castle Hotel in Toronto where they made a formal presentation on the work of the local organization in providing video conferences to support groups throughout Northwestern Ontario.

September 2008. The Hyder Video, Talk About It, was distributed free of charge to all prostate cancer support groups across Canada by the local group.

May 2009. The name of the organization was officially changed to Thunder Bay Prostate Cancer Support Group.

August 2009. The organization's first website,, was officially opened. The Webmaster was David Everitt.


December 2009. The organization received a $21,000 grant from The Ontario Trillium Foundation for the production of a video dealing with family relationships when a member has prostate cancer. Jim Hyder is the director of the video, which was finished in late 2010 and then subjected to a thorough review by support group audiences. The title: "It's a Family Affair".

19 August 2010. At a Special Business General Meeting, a motion to adopt a Support Group Affiliation Agreement with the PCC and PCCN was passed. At the same time a new name for our group was adopted, Prostate Cancer Canada Network - Thunder Bay.

October 2010. We also formed a partnership with The Fort William Male Choir. Some of their members had experienced prostate cancer, and they as a group wished to assist our efforts.

15 November 2010. Our website underwent a major makeover to reflect our joining the PCCN and the web address was changed to with new Webmaster Steve Bachanek, who provided the pictures in 2010 - 2011 not otherwise attributed.

By this point, membership has risen to more than a hundred.

January 2011. The three ladies from our group who participated in the video "It's a Family Affair" (Ev Burki, Christine Hyder, and Beth Long) started an informal group to provide information directly to spouses or partners of prostate cancer patients. They were joined by Marilyn Junnila and Inga Vantour on our new Spouses To Talk To webpage.

March 2011. Our new video "It's a Family Affair" is now being distributed to all the PCCNs, first in Ontario and then throughout Canada. Initial feedback was very positive from PCCNs that have viewed it. Subsequently the video segments were made available free worldwide on YouTube. (See the webpage Our Help Video at left for details.)

15 December 2011. M.P.P. Bill Mauro and Trillium Foundation representative Keith Nymark presented a much appreciated cheque that will cover the costs of translating our DVD "It’s A Family Affair" into French.

January 2012. We have a new webmaster.

January 2012: We partnered with PCC in Toronto to produce a DVD in English and in three Aboriginal languages to educate the native communities about prostate cancer.  Jim Hyder is responsible for production.

Other Events 2013: Awareness Projects such as Health Fairs (55 Plus Centre, OLG and Rural Health Fair), Marks BBQ,

Relay for Life, Safeways, Fort William Male Choir have increased the public’s acceptance of Prostate Cancer as a table topic.

July 2013: PCCN-Thunder Bay donates $8,500.00 to the Regional Hospital Foundation to purchase a knee pillow and foot immobilization device to keep patients stable during radiation plus gold seeds to identify the target area.

September 2013: In conjunction with Prostate Cancer Week, we sponsored free PSA testing at the 55 Plus Centre plus entertainment all arranged by Ed Long.  

Affiliation -- Prostate Cancer Canada Network

Our Prostate Cancer Canada Network - Thunder Bay under its earlier names has long been affiliated with the Canadian Prostate Cancer Network and its 120 affiliated support groups across Canada. In the Fall of 2009, CPCN announced that it had amalgamated with the Canadian Prostate Cancer Research Foundation and would be known in the future as the Prostate Cancer Canada Network. As mentioned above, in 2010 we formalized an even closer relationship with the PCCN and also changed our name.

The national CPCN, and now PCCN, speaks for thousands of men and their families who each year are diagnosed with prostate cancer. PCCN and PCCN - Thunder Bay help individuals and their families understand and cope with prostate cancer by providing up-to-date medical information and individual support; lobby for increased funding for research, treatment facilities, and programs; and promote the importance of early detection through public awareness campaigns.

Presidents, Past and Present

2002-2004 Steve Dychko

2004-2006 Bill Vantour

2006-2007 Dr. Terry Hill

2007-2009 Brian Scott

2009-2011 Bill Vantour

2011-2012 Phil Junnila

2012-2013 Bill Vantour

2014-2015 Ed Long

2015-2016 Cy Zurba

Honorary Life Members

Steve Dychko

John Filipovic

Bill Vantour

Brian Scott