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Fighting Cancer Throughout A Pandemic | Featuring Dr. Jonathan Irish

The Princess Margaret Cancer Centre Oncology Team were presented with a Fight To End Cancer Award Of Appreciation for their incredible work throughout the pandemic.

The medical landscape has, undoubtedly, shifted drastically over the past two years with new protocols, safety measures and increased risk of infections. Nonetheless, medical professionals such as Dr. Jonathan Irish, have managed to not only continue making powerful strives in the field of medicine, in such unprecedented time, but are also helping fight causes which may have been overlooked in all the chaos of COVID19: cancer. Cancer is very much prevalent in the community and continues to impact millions of people everyday; it cannot simply be put on hold while the pandemic calms down and that is why individuals such as Dr. Jonathan are a much needed force of power in The Fight To End Cancer.

Dr. Jonathan Irish graduated with his M.D. degree in 1984 from the University of Toronto.  He completed residency training at UCLA and at University of Toronto. He completed his Master’s of Science degree in Molecular Biology at the Institute of Medical Science at the University of Toronto in 1991 where he studied the molecular biological characteristics of head and neck cancers.  He, then, completed the American Head and Neck Society Fellowship in Head and Neck Surgical Oncology in 1991 under Dr Patrick Gullane and joined the staff of the Toronto General Hospital and Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in 1992. Currently, he is a Professor of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery and Head of the Division of Head and Neck Oncology and Reconstructive Surgery at the University of Toronto.

Dr. Jonathan Irish of The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation was presented with an award for the incredible work he does for both cancer research and treatment through the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.
Photo Credit: Rebecca Freeman

How did his journey begin?

Dr Jonathan, as a young surgeon, was interested in clinical epidemiology. However, after hearing about how “unpopular” it was at the time, he did his master’s degree in molecular biology and later, opened a lab. He did, however, face difficulties in succeeding because it required him to be a full time researcher and he could not do that along with being a surgeon and having no infrastructure support. In 1993, Princess Margaret Hospital underwent a big transformation project. The Princess Margaret commissioned KPMG, the consulting firm, to help develop and lead the project. In 2020, Dr. Jonathan shared with the Canadian Health Policy, that “[the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation] needed clinical leaders and although I was very junior in my career I was offered a 6 months secondment to help with the project. I was looking for a new challenge, and although I knew it would mean reduced income for a while, I jumped on the opportunity. This project gave me the opportunity to work with great healthcare leaders at the PMH and professional consultants at KPMG. This was the first time I was recognized as a young healthcare leader. In 1999, the position of chief of surgical oncology position became available at UHN. I was 40, the youngest candidate, but the most enthusiastic. I was selected and had the immense privilege to work under Dr. Alan Hudson, who was President and CEO of UHN, and Dr. Bob Bell, who later also became President and CEO of UHN and then Deputy Health Minister and many other leaders and mentors. You will learn that great leaders always evolve into greater leadership positions. If you find great mentors, they will bring you onto their own journey.”

Through the Fight To End Cancer, we have had the pleasure of working with some incredible partners, such as Landscape Plus and Grafton Apparel, working towards the meaningful cause of aiding with cancer research and making a genuine difference in the lives of those who live with and are effected by cancer. Thanks to Dr. Jonathan and his incredible work and community support, we have made extraordinary progress with our two presenting partners Jim Mosher, Landscape Plus and Lance Itkoff, Grafton Apparel.

Grafton Apparel X Fight To End Cancer

Despite the shifting landscape of in-store shopping and the pandemic protocols, Grafton Apparel decided to have an in-store campaign to aid The Fight To End Cancer in raising funds towards cancer research for The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation. They put up displays in their partnering stores, hosted several giveaways/contests/raffles and gave out lapel pins and keychains to all donations of $20 as a token of their gratitude for aiding in the research fund.

Their goal for the 2 month campaign was $250k and despite the challenges brought forward by COVID19, they managed to outdo themselves yet again, with the total donations EXCEEDING the $250,000 goal!

We are so thankful and proud of having such wonderfully ambitious partners in our corner, as we fight against the horrible disease. None of our accomplishments would be possible without their help and the support of our donors and FTEC family.

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“Wherever the art of Medicine is loved, there is also a love of Humanity.”