A Decade of Hope: Reflecting on Ten Years of the Cancer Champions Breakfast

By Cancer Foundation on May 8 / 2019

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Ottawa is a very generous place.

We’ve seen evidence of it again and again through storms and floods, and we have seen it for ten years now at the Cancer Champions Breakfast. Thanks to this incredibly generous community, just one decade has completely changed cancer care here in Ottawa.

“For ten years, the Cancer Champions Breakfast has been igniting hope in some of the most challenging of circumstances,” says Linda Eagen, President and CEO of the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation. “And, in just ten years, that hope has transformed the way we treat and care for people who are facing cancer.”

And transformed it has; one example is that at the very first Cancer Champions Breakfast in 2009, speakers highlighted oncolytic virus therapy as a promising new area of local research. Today, over 130 patients here in Ottawa are currently part of oncolytic virus clinical trials. And ten years ago, the Cancer Foundation’s Maplesoft Centre had yet to be built. Cancer Coaching did not exist. Today, hundreds of families each year meet with a Cancer Coach to get the support and resources they need to navigate each stage of their cancer journey.

One of the first to do so back in 2011 was Brandon Fong, a young cancer survivor and the first speaker of this morning’s Breakfast. Brandon was diagnosed with a brain tumour at just 26 years old, but says his struggle with uncertainty, long-term side effects, and mental health challenges after treatment were more difficult to cope with than the cancer itself. “I was a completely different person when I finished treatment, and I didn’t know what to do to move forward in life,” he said. “The Cancer Coaches at the Cancer Foundation changed my life. They helped me create a plan to address everything I was going through and overcome it.”

Next, Lucy Van Oldenbarneveld took a moment away from CBC news to tell the story of her own cancer journey, as well as the loss she has endured along the way when her sister passed away in October. “These ever changing and new drugs didn’t work for my sister Tracy, but they DO work…and they will change other women’s lives,” she said. “Research gives me so much hope, and seeing over 500 of you here and ready to help this morning gives me hope as well.”

Closing out the morning was Dr. Rebecca Auer, the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute’s Director of Cancer Therapeutics and a leading surgical oncologist and researcher. “I will never give up on my research, because I truly believe that by the end of my career, there will be a much better way of treating cancer,” she said, citing the reality of the difficult cases she sees every Tuesday during her surgeries. “Being part of a translational cancer research team and seeing clinical trials make scientific advances become miracles gives me hope to persevere. I do cancer research because it is the only way I can get through Tuesdays.”

And like Dr. Auer, our guests chose to keep fighting as well. With an amazing $50,000 gift match from the Wesley M. Nicol Foundation, they contributed more than $475,000 this morning to local clinical trials, research and Cancer Coaching. Once more, we are in awe of their generosity.

“Today we had the opportunity to reflect on 10 amazing years of change, and to look forward to the future with hope,” Gregory Sanders said after the event, his eighth as Chair of the Cancer Champions Breakfast. “Each year I am honoured to be in the presence of so many people who care about our community, and who demonstrate it so readily in their support for this Breakfast.”

The thirteenth Cancer Champions Breakfast was presented by Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall LLP, with Premier Sponsor WCPD Foundation, Associate Sponsor TD Canada Trust, and Supporting Sponsors Centennial Glass and Innovative Medicines Canada. In-Kind support was provided by Bytown Travel, BMR Group, Miller McConnell Signs, Advantage Audio/Visual Rentals Ltd, and the Ottawa Conference and Event Centre. Thanks to the generosity of these sponsors, every single dollar raised at the Cancer Champions Breakfast will go towards changing lives through Cancer Coaching at the Cancer Foundation’s Maplesoft Centre, and through local clinical trials and research happening here in Ottawa. The Cancer Champions Breakfast has now raised nearly 4 million dollars for these initiatives since 2009!

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You can find out more about the Cancer Champions Breakfast or make a donation to this year’s campaign by following the link below. All gifts of $1,000 or more made to the Cancer Champions Breakfast by midnight on Wednesday, May 8, 2019 will automatically enter the donor into a draw to win a one-week stay in Exuma, Bahamas with airfare and ocean-view accommodations included.* Follow the link below for more information.

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*Draw excludes Cancer Foundation staff, Board members, and their immediate families.

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