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Sangaralingham Family

Sangaralingham Family

Sangaralingham Family

Sangaralingham Family

Donor Story

“These Advancements in Cancer Treatment – They Are Incredible!”

Sangaralingham Family’s 50-year connection to Lakeridge Health is one of gratitude

Fifty years ago Lakeridge Hospital Foundation Board member Vanessa Benedict’s mom and dad joined the Lakeridge Health family. Her father, Dr. S. Sangaralingham, also known as Sang, joined the Hospital as an internal medicine specialist in 1972. Sang and his new wife, Ranee moved to Oshawa from Sri Lanka to start their life together while he launched his career at the Hospital.

With no friends or family in the area, Ranee was immediately made to feel part of this community thanks to Sang’s colleagues, their families and the neighbours. To this day, two of those neighbours, who were also nurses at the Hospital, remain some of her closest friends. Durham Region became a community where both Sang and Ranee were proud to give back through their extensive volunteer work.  Ranee was awarded the Lifetime Volunteer Award from The Council for Exceptional Children in the Special Award Category for Durham Region for the countless hours and years of service to students from all walks of life.

Sang and Ranee went on to have two children, both born at Lakeridge Health – Vanessa and Jeson. Vanessa, now a Wealth Advisor & Portfolio Manager with National Bank’s SilverBirch Wealth Management sits on the Board of Directors with Lakeridge Health Foundation, as well as the Development Committee and Our Cancer Campaign Cabinet. While Vanessa is making a difference in the same community where her parents built their life, her brother Jeson is a researcher and associate professor of medicine and physiology at the Mayo Clinic’s Department of Cardiovascular Medicine, where his work in translational cardiovascular research is making an impact worldwide.

“My dad retired six years ago after practicing medicine for 50 years. In those years as a physician at Lakeridge he was only ever a patient once,” recalls Vanessa. “But my brother and I were born at the Hospital and we had our fair share of other visits.” As a member of Our Cancer Campaign Cabinet, Vanessa is one of 34 other volunteers lending their skills to help raise $20 million to advance cancer care at Lakeridge Health, throughout Durham Region and beyond. Her personal connection to the Hospital is an obvious reason for her involvement, but Vanessa’s family also has a cancer story of their own.

In 1989, just over fifteen years after moving to Oshawa, Ranee was diagnosed with renal cancer when doctors found a huge mass on her kidney. “I wasn’t feeling well and my husband convinced me to go to the Hospital,” remembers Ranee. “I was quickly rushed into surgery because there weren’t a lot of treatment options back then. I stayed in the Hospital for three weeks.”

A teenager at the time, Vanessa remembers thinking her mom just had the flu and felt jolted when she saw her in the Intensive Care Unit.

“Everything was very secretive back then. No one used the word cancer,” says Vanessa. “My brother and I were only teenagers. I remember my Dad taking her to the Hospital in the evening because it would be less busy and she didn’t want to be a bother. Mom was always so kind like that. Then Dad came home and told us Mom had to stay at the hospital and everything became a bit of a blur.”

“I never expected that I had cancer. It all happened so fast and I never even had a chance to speak to my children,” remembers Ranee. “But when I look back on the experience everyone was so fantastic to us.”

During Ranee’s time in the Hospital, their friends and colleagues rallied around the family making sure Vanessa and her brother were cared for so their dad could focus on speaking to his colleagues about their mom’s care and recovery.

Ranee made a full recovery from her surgery but twenty years later, in 2009, she had an unusual rash and cancer hit the Sangaralingham family once more.

“When Mom’s cancer came back I had a four year old daughter and was eight months pregnant with my son. It hit differently this time because I was a mom too, but she was very determined to fight cancer again,” says Vanessa.

Ranee shares that her positive outlook and resiliency made a big difference for her during care and recovery. “I had so much confidence in the team caring for me because they had much more knowledge. Where before we heard ‘we’re not sure what will happen’ now the doctors told us ‘we know how to treat this’ and that made all the difference in our world.”

The family was amazed at how much progress has happened in cancer care over the years. Something they have experienced both through Ranee’s cancers but also in Sang’s work as an internal medicine physician. “When I see what people are going through today,” says Ranee, “I think, wow, these advancements in cancer treatment – they are incredible!”

As a volunteer and donor with Our Cancer Campaign, Vanessa is doing what she can to create even more momentum in cancer diagnosis, treatment and prevention. Donations to the campaign will fund new equipment, capital projects, research and educational opportunities that will accelerate the work done by our cancer care experts at Lakeridge Health.

“As a volunteer, Durham Region resident, donor and board member I feel like the Foundation’s #1 cheerleader. It comes from a deep place in my heart because this hospital has been a part of my entire life. I was born here. I had my children here. My father dedicated 44 years to the hospital AND this hospital saved my mom’s life,” shares Vanessa. “I’m really proud to be part of this Campaign because I can see how new equipment and the best resources are saving lives and supporting families. We may have experienced cancer decades ago, but I know what this community and Hospital are capable of and I want to do everything I can to keep that progress moving.”

On January 26, 2022, Sang and Ranee celebrated 50 years together, with two kids and three beautiful grandchildren they are very proud of. The family is so grateful for the friends they’ve made and the care they received over the years, not just for Ranee’s cancer, but for the broken leg, new babies and grandbabies that have found them in the Hospital over time.