Hundreds start their day by raising $433K for Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation

Proceeds from charity breakfast to fund local clinical trials and cancer coaching program
Cancer Champions Breakfast

There’s nothing like powering up in the morning with a cancer-fighting breakfast, served with a side order of hope and inspiration.

The crowd of early risers was 500 strong as it sat down together in the ballroom of the Ottawa Conference and Event Centre for the 11th edition of the Cancer Champions Breakfast. The charity event raised $433,000 for the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation, bringing its grand total to date to $3.18 million.

The fundraiser was chaired by Gregory Sanders, a law partner at Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall and the head of the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation’s board of directors.

Sanders, who lost both his parents to cancer, was helped by a committee of volunteers. They successfully recruited dozens of table captains to fill the room with guests, who, in return, pledged donations.

Each table was joined by such cancer experts as medical researchers and oncologists.

The sponsored breakfast, presented by Richcraft Group of Companies, was emceed by Mayor Jim Watson, who’s had two bouts with skin cancer.

Cancer Champions Breakfast
Gregory Sanders, chair of the Cancer Champions Breakfast and of its beneficiary, the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation, with his wife, Tani, and their son Ethan, at the fundraising breakfast held at the Ottawa Conference and Event Centre on Wednesday, May 10, 2017. (Photo by Caroline Phillips)

Nearly one in two people will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives.

“We cannot be a passive community,” Linda Eagen, the cancer foundation’s president and CEO, said on stage. “As a community, we have a role to play in the way we access care and the care we get, and you guys are the champions of making that possible.”

The money raised from the event is helping to support the cancer research and clinical trials happening in our region, as well as the cancer foundation’s nationally recognized coaching program available to cancer patients.

The room heard how Charlynne MacCharles, a clinical social worker and mother of two young daughters, was handed a breast cancer diagnosis just shy of her 40th birthday. Gone was the balance and certainty in her life, she said, upon hearing the three words that no patient ever wants to hear: You have cancer.

MacCharles, who had been so busy taking care of others, particularly her kids and her clients, said her cancer coach taught her how to put more focus on herself. She learned to make time for yoga, meditation and exercise -- all healthy habits she’d always encouraged her clients to pursue but had never prioritized for herself.

“Something she helped me consider was the idea that is was OK to think about my own needs,” said MacCharles. “My coach helped me put together a wellness plan … to slow down and achieve more balance so that I could get well, before I could again be that solid foundation for others.”

The process wasn’t always easy, she added. “The physical and emotional effects of surgery, radiation, chemo made for some challenging days, both for me and for the ones who love me.”

MacCharles, who is now cancer free, ended with a quote from Albert Einstein to describe her journey with cancer: Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.

- caroline@obj.ca