Our donors have truly transformed the way we care for our patients by supporting significant initiatives that create personalized cancer medicine.
When Emmanuelle Gattuso was told she had breast cancer over 10 years ago, she was stunned. Her mother had just died of ovarian cancer and her sister had fought off breast cancer two years earlier – enough heartache for one family, she figured.
It is her vision to make sure other families don’t go through the same heartache with a $50 million donation from Ms. Gattuso and her husband, broadcast mogul Allan Slaight. This is the largest private gift for cancer research in Canadian history. The donation will transform how cancer is diagnosed and treated through The Princess Margaret’s drive for personalized cancer medicine.
Within five years, physicians at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre will study all patients’ cancer cells and provide complete molecular descriptions of their tumours.
By knowing exactly how patients’ cells are mutating, oncologists can make more precise diagnoses and customize treatments better – and ultimately improve survival rates.
Graham Farquharson - Creating a Kidney Cancer Hub of Expertise
Just a few years ago there was nowhere in Canada acting as a hub of expertise in the research and treatment of kidney cancer. Mr. Graham Farquharson decided to change that with a gift of $5 million to support kidney cancer research at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.
With this gift, The Princess Margaret moved one step closer to the goal of being a national and international leader in the field. His gift established The Anna-Liisa Farquharson Chair in Kidney Cancer Research and The Anna-Liisa Farquharson Kidney Cancer Research Program in honour of Mr. Farquharson’s wife. With a critical mass of research and clinical expertise, access to collaborative and academic partnerships, and a commitment to excellence, The Princess Margaret is the ideal place to support research of this kind. Mr. Farquharson’s generous gift plays a significant role in enhancing existing technologies, developing new therapies, and providing effective and specialized cancer control methods for patients.
Dr. Michael Jewett was named as the first Farquharson Chair in January 2006. He has used the Farquharson gift in many ways. A national meeting of healthcare professionals and survivors was held with the objectives of establishing standards for centres of excellence, care guidelines and national research priorities. Treatment options have increased as well, with the development of a new system of supporting patients for less invasive, and more innovative image-guided therapy. New drugs can save people’s lives, so trials for kidney cancer drugs have also been started with promising results.
Lewitt Family Funds Canada’s First Chair in Pancreatic Research
A common theme runs through all transformational gifts made to The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation. A desire to make sense of a tragic loss, to bring an end to suffering caused by a particular cancer, and to help others avoid a similar fate.
For Anne Lewitt and her family, all of these motivations were behind their decision to create the Wilfred G. Lewitt Chair in Pancreatic Cancer Research. Pancreatic is one of the most deadly types of cancer – only 8% of patients live longer than five years.
“I would hope, from the bottom of my heart, that our gift will help people and help find a cure for this horrible disease,” says Anne, who lost her husband, Wilf, after 47 years of marriage to pancreatic cancer.
Four years after Wilf’s death, her loss has not become any easier. “The first year was horrific, the second year was more horrific. Nothing really changes, because he’s not here,” she says. “We were sort of joined at the hip, we were great friends and just quite happy to spend time together.”
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Gordon’s Gift Has Worldwide Impact Through the “Feeney Fellows”
Gordon Feeney considers himself doubly fortunate.
“I was fortunate to receive swift care from Dr. Paul Greig at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, which has allowed me to be cancer free since my surgery two years ago,” says Gordon. “I’m also fortunate to have the ability to contribute to the Billion Dollar Challenge. My personal philanthropy focuses on health care, because unless we’re healthy, nothing else matters much.”
With no pain or symptoms, Gordon was surprised when a potential problem showed up during his annual physical. After an MRI and CT scan at The Princess Margaret, Dr. Greig made a diagnosis of liver cancer and recommended a two-part treatment plan.
“From our first conversation, Dr. Greig earned my complete confidence. He explained everything in lay terms and even drew it all out for me – I still have that piece of paper!” says Gordon. “I had no idea at the time that he was such a prominent surgical oncologist.”
The Discovery Program Honours an Amazing Woman and an “Incredible Pool of Talent”
Susanne Thomas lived for 10 years with a slow growing, rare form of Head & Neck cancer. She knew from the beginning that it was terminal. But in all that time, Susanne never let her illness define her. She maintained her fabulous sense of humour and her compassion for others.
“As her illness worsened, she didn’t lose any of her grace or her strength,” says her daughter, Rebecca. “I hope that if and when I am faced with something like that, I will be able to handle it as well as she did. She was amazing.”
Susanne, or “Su” to those closest to her, was a private person. She went through multiple surgeries, two rounds of radiation and two experimental drug treatments, but she just “dealt with it,” says Rebecca. “She didn’t want to impose on other people. She would hate me using the word, but Mum was a brave person.”
Rebecca is certain her mother was able to have all of those extra years with her husband, Nevil, and four children because of the expertise of her team at The Princess Margaret.
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