A Lifelong Passion for Giving Back

By Christian McCuaig on January 4 / 2017

[Cancer, History]Comments

If you’re looking to speak with Dr. Kanta Marwah, there are a number of places you might find her.

She could be traveling throughout her community finding worthy causes to support on behalf of the Kiwanis Club of Ottawa, or creating her own endowment fund at the National Arts Centre. She may be looking after some of her responsibilities as a Professor Emeritus at Carleton University, or even visiting the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation, where she has been a supporter and generous donor for years.

And as she turns 80 years young today, Dr. Marwah only has intentions of doing more, noting that her involvement in her community is simply a part of who she is.

“It is something in my heart, that I have to give back to the community,” she says. “I don’t know if some of us have been so lucky to get so much within this world, so we have to give back to the community too. And why not? When we go, we go empty handed. We don’t take anything with us.”

Dr. Marwah grew up in India, later moving to the United States and Canada to complete her extensive education. Her father passed away from cancer shortly after she finished her accelerated undergraduate degree at a young age, one of the reasons she is so passionate about investing in cancer care. One of the giant flowers in the Richard and Annette Bloch Cancer Survivors Park next to the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation’s Maplesoft Centre is dedicated to the memory of her parents, who she says are responsible for her giving spirit.

“What I feel, what I do…it is all because of the values my parents have instilled in me. My mother was tremendous, very sacrificing. I still remember, when there was a flood she gave away all our clothes and everything too. She said eh, we’ll manage. She was that kind of person, and my father too.”

marwah-2Chemotherapy was a relatively new treatment when her father was diagnosed with cancer, and Dr. Marwah is both amazed and encouraged by the incredible advances she has witnessed in cancer treatment since, especially here in her own community. She hopes her support of the Cancer Foundation will help families live better with cancer, and that it will one day help discover a cure.

“Medical advances have taken place; tremendous advances have taken place. We have prolonged life, we have added years to life, but we have not added life to years. Life to years would be when we find a cure.”

She also hopes her community will join her in helping to turn their own aspirations for improving cancer care a reality by supporting local efforts at the Cancer Foundation. She says that with an aging population worldwide and so much potential within science and research, she wants to do as much as she possibly can to make a difference in the lives of the people around her.

“Reality is very different from your ideals,” she says. “Most of the time ideals are very high. So try to raise reality up to meet your ideals, but never lower your ideals to suit reality.”

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