Student starts KPU Club for the Cure

Mon, May 11, 2015

Metro Vancouver, B.C. – Browse the photo gallery of any cellphone, and you’ll likely find pictures of friends, family members, pets and probably a few selfies of the owner.

On Matthew McKinnon’s cellphone, he keeps a photo of his brain. The MRI image is a triumph – in a thousand words, it tells the story of his battle with brain cancer.

“If I never had a brain tumour, my life would have been so different, but I’m happy with the way it’s turned out,” says McKinnon, a student in the NGO and Nonprofit Studies program at Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU). “Without the tumour, I wouldn’t have been able to meet all these amazing kids.”

The youngest of six children, McKinnon was an athletic 16-year-old who excelled at sports while maintaining honour-roll grades en route to a career as a civil engineer when cancer changed his life.

The young football player was diagnosed with a brain tumour – the technical term being a malignant germ cell yolk sac tumour of the pineal region – in June 2012 on the eve of his Grade 12 year at Holy Cross Secondary in Surrey. He immediately underwent treatment, starting with surgery to remove the pressure in his brain, followed by another surgery to remove 50 per cent of the tumour. The rest of the cancer was obliterated by six rounds of chemotherapy and 30 sessions of radiation that finally concluded in January 2013.

“I had all these things lined up for myself, but I wouldn’t trade where I am now and what cancer has given me to have them back,” says McKinnon.

Throughout his treatment, McKinnon had a support network available to him at BC Children’s Hospital, where he was struck by the strength and resilience of cancer patients as young as five and six years old. “Ever since then, I’ve wanted to be involved.”

When McKinnon entered KPU last fall, he decided to start a support network at the university, and founded the KPU Club for the Cure to help young adults directly or indirectly affected by cancer.

While envisioned as a support group, it’s had considerable success as a fundraising club and McKinnon is set to present a cheque for $6,000 on behalf of KPU Club for the Cure to BC Children’s Hospital Foundation during its annual Balding for Dollars fundraiser in Vancouver May 23.

The funds were raised at a pub night in February, a KPU Balding for Dollars fundraiser in March and bottle drives – an astounding success for a club that only has a handful of members. McKinnon, Rob Blandon, Haley Eburne, Connor Elford, Jonathan Fader, Taylor Hutchison, Brendan Keigher and Jenn Miller were among those who shaved or chopped their hair during the fundraiser in March.

“All it takes is one,” quips McKinnon.

McKinnon will emcee Balding for Dollars, and he’s urging other KPU students to support the annual event by participating or making a personal donation. Learn more about the club and how you can offer your support here.

Kwantlen Polytechnic University has been serving the Metro Vancouver region since 1981, and has opened doors to success for more than 250,000 people. Four campuses—Richmond, Surrey, Cloverdale and Langley—offer a comprehensive range of sought-after programs, including business, liberal arts, science, design, health, trades and technology, horticulture, and academic and career advancement. Over 19,000 students annually have a choice from over 124 programs, including bachelor’s degrees, associate degrees, diplomas, certificates citations and apprenticeships. Learn more at

Photo caption: KPU Club for the Cure's Matthew McKinnon (right) and Brendan Keigher at the KPU Balding for Dollars event. Click here to view photo on Flickr.

Media contact:
Hayley Woodin
Media Specialist
t: 604.599.2883
c: 604.364.1288

For more KPU news: