Cancer Champions Breakfast Raises a Record $1,063,799.18 for Local Cancer Care

By Cancer Foundation on September 16 / 2020


The virtual Breakfast event, which took place the morning of Wednesday, September 16th, was one of the first of its kind in Ottawa.

Nearly everyone in Ottawa has faced the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic in one way or another…but that didn’t stop hundreds of business and community leaders across the city from coming together on September 16th to make a difference in the lives of local families who are facing cancer.

Well, coming together virtually – Table Captains, guests, sponsors, speakers, and Leadership Council members tuned into the event from the comfort of their own homes to hear messages of hope and raise much-needed funds for local cancer care.

The online event, which was originally meant to take place on May 13th at the Infinity Convention Centre, raised a record $1,063,799.18 for local cancer care – the most the Cancer Champions Breakfast has ever raised in a single year.

“I’m incredibly proud of this community on most days, but especially today,” said Ian Sherman, Tax Partner in the EY Ottawa office, and who just completed his first year as Chair of the Cancer Champions Breakfast. “My biggest thanks go out to our donors, our sponsors, and our Leadership Council…with 80,000 Canadians expected to die of cancer this year alone, we know we need to make sure cancer care stays a priority, and I think this morning we’ve worked together to do just that.”

The event began with a cancer research discussion featuring event host Catherine Clark, along with Dr. John Bell, senior scientist at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute. They discussed the many incredible gains that have been made in the field of cancer care since the Cancer Foundation’s inception 25 years ago, and how advances in cancer research are drastically improving quality of life for patients.

“Things have really changed a lot. For some diseases, I think we really do have cures…but not enough,” Dr. Bell said after describing how new treatments are offering hope for cancers like melanoma. “We’re so close now, I think we just need to keep putting resources towards this, because we’re going to be able to take our learnings and convert them to being useful in many kinds of cancers.”

Then, opening remarks from Ian Sherman highlighted that while the COVID-19 pandemic has been a monumental challenge for the Ottawa community, the needs of cancer patients remain a pressing concern as well.

Next came an interview with Chuck Merovitz, a lawyer and longtime supporter of the Cancer Foundation who has helped raise funds for projects like the Richard and Annette Bloch Cancer Survivors Park and the CyberKnife radiation tool. “You never know, you do it altruistically, but you never know when your fundraising might benefit you or someone you love,” he said, referencing his own recent cancer diagnosis. “People don’t realize it, but Ottawa is known as a centre of excellence for cancer care and research, and I encourage everyone to support it.”

A still of Breakfast speaker Chuck Merovitz from his
introductory video at the Cancer Champions Breakfast.

Next, Dr. John Sinclair, Director of Cerebrovascular Surgery and the Director of Neurosurgical Oncology at The Ottawa Hospital, discussed the importance of innovation and perseverance when it comes to treating cancer, as well as his work with a new surgical technique called Fluorescence-Guided Surgery.

“It’s amazing that we have, over the decades and decades of advances in medicine, still relied just on a surgeon’s eyes to determine where a tumour is,” he said. “[Fluorescence-Guided Surgery] takes us to the next level, and this is an exciting development in cancer surgery, as there are now different compounds being designed for different types of cancers, and I think this is the way tumour surgery will progress in the future.”

Closing out the morning were Wayne and Jocelyne Liko, a couple who greatly benefited from the Cancer Foundation’s Cancer Coaching services after Jocelyne was diagnosed with cancer in 2016. “I knew right away that she completely understood where I was coming from,” Jocelyne says of the first time she met with her Cancer Coach. “She was asking all the right questions – they were quite pertinent to how I was feeling and what I was going through. She was incredible in giving me tangible resources to work with. I had somebody who was an advocate for what I was going through, and that was absolutely priceless for me.”

“The Cancer Coaching helped us communicate on a level that allowed me to understand what Jocelyne was going through, as opposed to assume, or to take it on myself,” adds Wayne, who also received help from a Coach as he cared for his wife. “It just helped navigate all the uncertainties that go along with it.”

At the end of the event, Jocelyne encouraged those watching to consider making a donation in order to keep the hope of better treatments and improved care going strong.

“Hope means something completely different to someone who has cancer,” she said. “It means an extra day with our families, or getting to make it to your child’s wedding day.”

In addition to the incredible gifts that came in from viewers during the event, a special feature of the virtual Cancer Champions Breakfast was the first-ever 25×25 Campaign, where certain donors across Ottawa stepped up to make a leadership gift of $25,000 to establish a strong start to the Breakfast’s fundraising. To view a list of these amazing families, individuals, and organizations, click here.

The Cancer Champions Breakfast was sponsored by Premium Sponsors Joe Clark & Associates Limited, EY, and Brazeau Seller Law, and by Associate Sponsors Assante Wealth Management, Beyond Yoga Studio & Wellness Centre, Syntax Strategic, Valecraft Homes Ltd, and the Foundation WCPD. The event was also made possible thanks to supporting sponsors BMR Group, Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP, Centennial Glass, District Realty, Duane Francis Wealth Creation, Extend Pharmacy, GGFL Chartered Professional Accountants, Innovative Medicines Canada, and Kott Inc.

Thanks to the generosity of sponsors, every single dollar raised at the Cancer Champions Breakfast will go towards changing lives through Cancer Coaching at the Cancer Foundation’s Maplesoft-GumDocs Centre for Cancer Survivorship, and through local clinical trials and research happening here in Ottawa. The Cancer Champions Breakfast has now raised nearly 5 million dollars for these initiatives since 2009!

You can find out more about the Cancer Champions Breakfast or make a donation to this year’s campaign by visiting If you missed the live event, you can watch it at

Thank you to all who joined us for our first-ever virtual Cancer Champions Breakfast!

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