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A helping hand for hope

Local Flavours - Karen Ebenal - halibut
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Karen Ebenal knows firsthand the importance of raising money for cancer research.

Back in 2009, the 51-year-old South Surrey resident and Nite of Hope volunteer was diagnosed with breast cancer – a one-millimetre lump discovered during a routine mammogram.

Had she not gone for an exam, the invasive mass would likely have spread to her lymph nodes and possibly other organs – with thousands of women across Canada diagnosed each year, it’s a story that’s all-too-familiar, Ebenal said.

“I’m one of the lucky ones,” said the mother of two, who began going for annual mammograms 10 years prior to her diagnosis. “When they removed it they found it was invasive, so I don’t know how much longer it would have been – it was already starting to move.”

Sixteen radiation treatments later and Ebenal is now in the clear. “I’m the poster child for early mammograms,” she said.

This April marks the third-year of Ebenal’s involvement with White Rock/South Surrey’s Nite of Hope – an annual gala that raises funds for research in the fight against breast cancer.

Since its inception in 2006, the event has raised more than $600,000, with 100 per cent of the proceeds raised going to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation to fund fellowship grants awarded to researchers in oncology.

“That’s what keeps me coming back,” said Ebenal, who is part of NOH’s registration committee. “Because of the money we are raising, we are able to bring in these amazing specialists. I’m telling my friends and family if you want to make a donation somewhere, make it to the Nite of Hope, there is no overhead whatsoever.”

While NOH – coming to the Centennial Arena on April 7 – is sold out, event organizers are still looking for sponsorship and donations.

For more information about sponsoring NOH or to make a donation, visit

In this week’s edition of Local Flavours, Ebenal shares her recipe for Hoisin Roast Fish with Orange Spinach Salad – a family favourite, she says. “It’s one of my go-to-recipes in a pinch.”

Hoisin Roast Fish & Spinach Salad


1 orange

1/3 cup finely chopped green onion

1/3 cup hoisin sauce

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar

4 tsp. soy sauce

1/2 tsp. ginger root

4 halibut fillets (1lb. total)

4 cups lightly packed fresh spinach

2 tsp. sesame seeds, toasted



Grate rind from orange to make 2 tsp, set aside. Cut off ends, remaining rind, pith and outer membrane. Slice orange crosswise and cut slices into quarters; set aside in large bowl.

Whisk together orange rind, onion, hoisin sauce, vinegar, soy sauce and ginger. Remove 2 tbsp and add to orange in bowl. Add fish to remaining hoisin mixture, turning to coat.

Transfer to foil-lined rimmed baking sheet; pour hoisin mixture over top. Bake in 425ºF oven until opaque and fish flakes easily when tested, 10 to 15 minutes. Broil for 1 minute or until golden. Meanwhile, trim spinach; tear into bite-size pieces. Add to orange mixture; toss. Serve with fish. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.