Angela | East York, ON
“In 2013, my younger brother underwent his first craniotomy to remove a malignant brain tumour. My mother and I waited outside on the steps of the hospital, talking about how devastating his diagnosis was.
Since my brother was only 26, we spent a lot of time thinking about how certain treatments would affect his quality of life. There were few effective therapeutics available for his type of tumour. Sitting on those steps, my mom said to me: ‘Well, we’re just going to have to start our own charity.’ By ‘we,’ she meant me.
Today, I’m the chair of Brain Cancer Canada (BCC), the first national charity in Canada focused on primary malignant brain tumour research. These rare cancers are very different from other, more common tumours, and come with a huge fundraising gap that needs to be filled.
In 2015, we hosted our first friends and family fundraiser, raising $25,000. At the time, we thought it was a huge deal, but then we started looking at issuing grants and realized just how little that kind of money buys in the cancer research world. The funds raised were used to purchase one coil for a new piece of technology. While we were told the coil was a very important component, it just didn’t seem like enough.
This realization became a driving force. We needed to fund innovative research in order to transform the standard of care. Innovation in brain cancer treatment has come far too slow. For some of these cancers, the most recent advancements in chemotherapy happened over 20 years ago. Our community is long past due for a breakthrough.
We know that there’s a direct connection between fundraising and research that can and will save lives. And since those early days on the hospital steps, we’ve raised nearly $2 million for brain cancer research— research that can give these children and adults a future.
More than a decade later, my brother is doing well. He just had his third craniotomy, which has come with a new set of challenges, but he’s resilient, determined, and hopeful.
More than ever before, I too feel hopeful. More effective therapeutics are imminent, but to get there, our only option as a charity is to keep growing.”
Angela Scalisi is Chair of the Board of Directors of Brain Cancer Canada, a volunteer-based national charity raising funds for brain cancer research. Learn more at braincancercanada.ca.