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Welcome To The Fight Team | Fighting Cancer With The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation

By May 9, 2018January 6th, 2022No Comments

FTEC 2017 Alumnus Allison Dellandrea and Dr. Lorne Rotstein her primary care physician since he performed her radical neck dissection for recurrent thyroid cancer in 2009 [Photo Credit: Chris Small]

Fighting Cancer With The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation
Welcome To The Fight Team

Article by: Allison Dellandrea
Allison Dellandrea is the mother of three teenagers, a cross-fit athlete, marathoner, FTEC 2017 fighter and a member of the Fight to End Cancer executive.

You are already a member of the Fight to End Cancer team if you are reading this article. You have contributed to the goal of conquering cancer in our lifetime by your attendance at the gala, support for a team member, and awareness of our cause.

The source of your motivation is doubtless the same as mine: you, or someone you care about has been touched by cancer. The current statistics around cancer sadly guarantee it. Nearly 1 in 2 Canadians are expected to be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime: almost half of the people in this room. Over the next year, 206,200 Canadians are expected to be diagnosed and 80,800 are projected to be lost to the disease . There is no denying the enormity of these numbers. Numbers that are made up of people like me.
There are, however, other numbers that are also important to know of and understand. Numbers that represent the efforts of those who research, treat, and cure the people who are touched by cancer. Numbers that remind us that this fight is far from one-sided, or a lost cause. Numbers that spark our hope and inspire us to keep fighting against this disease.

The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation (PMCF) has raised in excess of $1 Billion dollars for cancer research, since its inception in 1982. This figure is staggering by any measure. What does it actually mean for the real people who are affected by cancer – patients like me, and their families?

Wall of medical and treatment firsts honouring the dedicated PMCC researchers that have changed the world.

The Princess Margaret Cancer Centre is itself a cancer research powerhouse. It is one of the top 5 cancer research centres in the world and the largest cancer research and clinical program in Canada. It includes 12 cancer site groups, 26 speciality clinics and nearly 3,000 staff. The 800,000 square foot facility includes 373,000 square feet dedicated to research, 220 inpatient beds and 17 radiation treatment machines. The centre handles over 400,000 patient visits annually, treating over 17,700 new patients a year with over 1,400 patients visiting the centre daily.
The Princess Margaret Cancer Centre has a track record of world firsts and discoveries dating back to 1950. A very short list of these include: mapping of stem cells, cloning the T-cell receptor, identifying lung cancer signatures, a new view on how blood is made, finding the root cause of myeloma relapse, liquid biopsy biomarker techniques, and many more. What difference do all of these scientific discoveries make to individual patients?
Research drives discovery. Discovery leads to improved care for patients. Princess Margaret’s clinical trials program is the largest in Canada, and one of the largest in the world. One in six patients at PMH contribute to active clinical trials: looking for tomorrow’s treatment and sharing their outcomes for the benefit of other cancer centres around the world. How cool is that? The patients themselves becoming the agents of discovery and change for future generations of patients.

The ripple effects of research are exponential for cancer patients. Microscopic discoveries lead to adjustments in chemotherapy treatments which minimize, or eliminate, harrowing side-effects to patients.

Minuscule adjustments to the accuracy of radiation therapies spare patients’ days of debilitating exhaustion, and pain. Clinical research informs more sensitive treatment modalities for surgeons, radiologists, nurses and volunteers. Research points the way toward how to treat people better.

FTEC2017 alumnus Allison Dellandrea speaks with her surgeon and 9 time Ride to Conquer Cancer participant Dr. Lorne Rotstein about the impacts research has had on his work treating patients. [Photo Credit: Chris Small]

I am one of the patients who has benefitted directly from the research conducted at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. I am fortunate to receive my ongoing care at the Head and Neck Centre of surgical oncology at The Princess Margaret. My primary caregiver, Dr. Lorne Rotstein, recently spoke with me about the impact of the research by the Cancer Centre on his ability to deliver care to patients like me. Dr. Rotstein is a Professor in the Department of Surgery at the University of Toronto and the Chair in General Surgery at University Health Network. His clinical practice is devoted to Head and Neck Surgical Oncology. In 2009, Dr. Rotstein performed my third and last surgery to meticulously remove over 50 cancerous lymph nodes from my neck and thorax. His care and skill led to my cure.
Dr. Rotstein had this to say about the impact of the PMCC research on the work of surgical oncology: “Well, I think that the fight to conquer cancer, the boxing match, is a good comparison because cancer is not going to be beaten all at once, with a knockout. But little by little you wear down your opponent and small improvements in care are going to result in an eventual technical knockout, I think.” One of the beautiful benefits of research for surgeons like Dr. Rotstein is the ability to recognize when to put their scalpels down: “My area is in clinical outcomes — and what we as a group have learned over the past 20 years, is that in many ways less is more. What we have learned is that therapies for thyroid cancer needn’t be as aggressive as it has been in the past. What we have learned is that we can achieve cures with lesser impacts to individuals and that has been a huge, huge education for us.” As a direct result of research, many patients have been met with more restraint in their treatments plans and achieved equal outcomes. Fewer surgeries, less radiation, happier and healthier patients. Science serving people.

Thanks to the care at the Princess Margaret, Allison Dellandrea stepped into the ring in 2017 to fight cancer once again in the Fight To End Cancer.
Photo: The FTEC2017 Fight Team posed for one final group shot before entering the ballroom, lacing up the gloves and making the Fight To End Cancer 2017 a knockout success. Photo By: Laura Polischuik

Thanks to the skill of my caregivers at The Princess Margaret, I have now returned to good health: a status I will never take for granted. Each time I return to the hospital for my regular scans and check-ups, I am inspired by the continued improvements and successes which are obviously being achieved by the Cancer Centre. While I had never imagined myself stepping into a boxing ring to fight (much less in front of 500 tuxedo-clad guests), my inspiration for doing so was both obvious, and immediate. The Princess Margaret Cancer Centre had been in my corner all along, fighting for my cure. And for yours. This was my opportunity to answer the call to step into theirs, and to join in their fight: to drive the discoveries that change and save lives.

When we drop a pebble in a pond, the ripples continue long after the pebble has disappeared from view. Your donation, your time, your efforts as part of this team create ripples that start with research, travel through treatment and may lead to someone else stepping into the ring in the Fight to End Cancer, as a survivor.


Help the #FTEC2018 Fight Team reach their goal of $1 million dollars before Fight Night! Use the link below to get to know the individual team members better and support them in their Fight To End Cancer! Defeat Is NOT An Option

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About The Fight To End Cancer
The Fight To End Cancer is an annual black tie fundraiser founded in 2011. We have chosen to partner with the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation due to their direct support within the community. Our goal is to raise funds for cancer research year-round with the support of business leaders and the local community. Join us for the highly anticipated 6th Annual Fight To End Cancer Gala – Saturday, June 2, 2018.
About The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation
The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation at University Health Network raises funds for breakthrough research, exemplary teaching and compassionate care at Princess Margaret Hospital and its research arm, the Ontario Cancer Institute. This now includes The Campbell Family Cancer Research Institute and The Campbell Family Breast Cancer Research Institute. More information about the Foundation can be found at