My name is Brian Weiner and I am 43-years-old. I live with my family in Thornhill, Ont. I am also the Vice President of Product and Strategy at Visa Canada. About eight years ago, my daughter Talia, now nine, was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a rare childhood cancer of the eye. She was only 8 and a half-months-old at the time of her diagnosis. I had just turned 35.
Talia underwent treatment at both Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and the Hospital for Sick Children. My daughter had to have one eye removed and replaced with a prosthetic. When the tumour was removed from Talia’s eye, it was sent for diagnostic testing and scientists studied whether the tumour was triggered at a genetic level. For a long time, doctors were unable to confirm whether the cancer was genetic or not, despite sending the tumour around the globe for testing using different techniques. If the tumour was genetic, there was a risk of Talia developing a tumour in her remaining eye, and an increased propensity for other cancers. Her treatment plan turned on the information that alluded the scientists.
To give back for the great care we received, my family started donating to a small retinoblastoma fund through University Health Network. When Talia was four-years-old, we were told that doctors sent Talia’s tumour to British Columbia for further testing using a newly developed technique. To our great relief, we got the news that we were hoping for - Talia’s tumour was not genetic. What was incredible was that the funds used to pay for the testing were covered by the same small retinoblastoma fund that we had been donating to for years! I was in complete shock and excitement; some of this money came from my family’s own donations. I really saw how funds are being put to use; they really do make an outstanding difference.
Celebrating my daughter as a cancer survivor, I am participating in the Rexall OneWalk to Conquer Cancer benefiting Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. It’s a next-generation fundraiser and 25-kilometre walk throughout Toronto.
I am participating in OneWalk on Team Visa. With a team of 20 people, Team Visa’s fellow walkers and donors all have a connection to cancer. When one person gets cancer, it impacts everyone around them – families, friends and co-workers included. In true teamwork fashion, my coworkers and I are coming together to support those we love. We believe that in cancer research, one breakthrough is everyone’s breakthrough. One person’s fight is the battle we all take on.
The best parts of this journey? Firstly, it’s knowing that my two daughters and my wife will greet me with big, healthy smiles as I cross the finish line with Team Visa. Secondly, is that this community of dedicated OneWalk participants, teams, donors, supporters and sponsors are working together to raise as much money for The Princess Margaret as possible.
In my family, cancer can be conquered. My team and I want other families to be able to conquer it, too.