From the desk of the CEO: A fond farewell to 2016!

Susan Marshall, CEO of Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada and Joanne Johnston, Executive Director of WAYS.

Susan Marshall, CEO of Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada and Joanne Johnston, Executive Director of WAYS.

It’s hard to believe the end of 2016 is just around the corner!  As the holidays near, it feels like an ideal time to reflect on what’s been a year of change and growth.

Those of you who’ve been part of Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada for a long while – and some supporters I know have been with us from the start, almost 35 years ago! – the past 12 months have seen some big changes for the organization and brain tumour community.

We made some name and timing switches!

This year kicked off with changes to two longstanding Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada initiatives.

First, we retired the “Spring Sprint” name due to the program’s evolution to events moving far beyond the season, and the “Brain Tumour Walks” made their official debut. Not only did this allow for more flexibility in when to host the annual fundraising walks, but it put the brain tumour cause front-and-centre as part of their name!

Next, we united with our counterparts in the US to align our Brain Tumour Awareness Months in May, marking the first time there was a North America-wide month devoted to “turning May grey” and to rally together for the brain tumour cause.

Sadly, May also marked a time many Canadians took to heart, as Gord Downie, beloved lead singer of The Tragically Hip, announced his terminal brain cancer diagnosis. While difficult and shocking news, Mr. Downie’s announcement cast unprecedented media attention on the brain tumour community and what it means to be diagnosed or to care for a patient.

2016 brought two major brain tumour research updates

Dr. Michael Taylor and his team at SickKids lead the way when it comes to the world of medulloblastoma research. Our Pediatric Brain Cancer Impact Grant funds Dr. Taylor’s 5-year study and in early 2016, he reported that the childhood cancer once thought to have four subtypes has 10. This finding means medulloblastoma is more complex than first believed, but by identifying the precise degrees of difference between the 10 subtypes, Dr. Taylor and his team aim to classify these variances so care is focused to a young patient’s needs and lessens the impact of more invasive – and potentially harmful – treatments.

Second, Dr. Faith Davis continued her work on the Canadian Brain Tumour Registry and is now in Phase 2 of the project: the development of the national report that captures the country’s brain tumour statistics. This data collection will provide, for the first time, a comprehensive and accurate look at where in Canada, and how often, people are diagnosed – a gamechanger for brain tumour researchers and experts. Don’t forget that until December 31, you can text BRAINTUMOUR to 20222 to donate $10 (which will be doubled to $20 in a matching gift!) to help build Canada’s brain tumour registry.

October marked the inaugural national brain tumour conference

Most recently was October’s Join the Movement to End Brain Tumours National Conference. This was the first conference of its kind and more than 250 people took part. And that doesn’t include the hundreds who joined in online through the live-streaming! Make sure you take a few minutes to catch up on our highlights from the day.

Beyond these milestones, we also saw our support group program expand its online offerings and the launch of new francophone groups, online and in-person.  And there is still so much more!

I want to express my deep gratitude for the continuous commitment and dedication extended to the brain tumour community. None of these accomplishments would be possible without you! To each and every donor, volunteer and supporter, thank you for joining the movement to end brain tumours.

Here’s to 2017, Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada’s 35th anniversary, and all that is to come!

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