At one of the most anticipated fundraising events of the year, larger-than-life cancer survivor, activist for cancer education and research and Tour de France cycling champion Lance Armstrong addressed 600 community, corporate and government leaders who gathered together to raise funds for Toronto Sunnybrook Regional Cancer Centre.
Organized by Sunnybrook Foundation, the Strength When It Matters Most with Lance Armstrong event raised $1.2 million for the much-needed expansion of the chemotherapy unit at Toronto Sunnybrook Regional Cancer Centre.
As one of North America’s largest and leading comprehensive cancer care centres, Toronto Sunnybrook Regional Cancer Centre provides services for over 229,000 patient visits a year and sees over 10,000 new patients each year. At Toronto Sunnybrook Regional Cancer Centre, expert staff in each cancer disease site work together as a team to deliver multidisciplinary patient care, and engage in a broad spectrum of world-leading research from basic laboratory to population-based studies. This research includes prevention and early detection, and the development of individualized treatments and new innovative surgical techniques, with the goal to translate discoveries into clinical care to enhance quality of life for cancer patients.
“An investment in Sunnybrook is an investment in helping shape the future of health care and cancer care in a positive and meaningful way,” says Jennifer Tory, regional president, Greater Toronto Region, Royal Bank of Canada, and chair, Sunnybrook Foundation. “Cancer continues to be a devastating reality for many and it is disheartening to know that of an estimated 153,000 Canadians diagnosed with cancer last year, over 70,000 lost the battle. Together, through the ongoing support of the community – for which we are sincerely grateful – we can win more battles and save more lives.”
Strength When It Matters Most host Pamela Wallin introduced Lance Armstrong as an “extraordinary athlete [whose] career is the stuff of legends [and who] has taken up what he [Lance] calls the ‘obligation of the cured’, to change the lives of others with passion”.
Once at the podium, Lance Armstrong – dressed in an all-black suit and looking dramatic against an all-white stage – delivered a candid and moving speech about not being a quitter. The seven-time consecutive Tour de France champion – who triumphed despite battling testicular cancer that had metastasized to his abdomen, lungs and brain – recalled the moment when his oncologist engaged him in the idea of the ‘obligation of the cured’. After he had completed extensive chemotherapy, his oncologist talked to him about choosing to “go out the door on one side as a private man with no one ever knowing what he had been through” or choosing to “go out the door on the other side as a cancer survivor with the obligation of the cured – to continue to share his story and experiences to inspire others.”
In attendance at the event were Sunnybrook’s donors and supporters, government health care representatives, leaders from cancer care associations and cancer research institutions, and Sunnybrook staff to include oncology nurses, radiation therapists and medical, surgical and radiation oncologists from Toronto Sunnybrook Regional Cancer Centre.