The Neuro’s annual brain cancer fundraiser, A Brilliant Night, has once again contributed to the fight against this terrible disease, adding $923,775 to the $5.1M net raised in support of research since 2015.
This year’s event was the first in-person gathering since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Adhering to health restrictions, the organizing committee chose Jardin Royalmount as the venue. Crowds were kept to a minimum by dividing the event into two timeslots, and participants wore masks when not eating or drinking.
Cocktails were followed by a theatre performance written by Trevor Barrette and directed by Jonathan Peterson. The eight-actor show was based on survivors and families’ first-hand accounts of their experiences with brain cancer.
A group of volunteers co-founded A Brilliant Night in 2015 after losing family members to glioblastoma, a deadly form of brain cancer with low life expectancy. They felt deeply about accelerating the development of the best possible treatments to combat the disease. Many of their family members had been treated by Dr. Kevin Petrecca, chief of the Department of Neurosurgery at the McGill University Health Centre and head of the Brain Tumour Research Centre.
“When top cancer doctors and brain surgeons in Canada and in the U.S were telling us my mom had a year or less to live, and that her tumour was inoperable, we found hope at The Neuro,” says Leslie Hacker, a member of organizing committee. “Dr. Petrecca took out my mom’s tumour four times, which gave her four extra years we would have never had. If it wasn’t for Dr. Petrecca, I would not have had those four or so extra years with my mom. We would fly in from Toronto every month just to see him. He treated her like a human, not just another patient and gave my mom a chance and hope. I owe everything to this hospital, and my mom felt that way too.”
The volunteers decided to support Dr. Petrecca’s cancer research. Thanks to their efforts, in 2020 his lab published the results of the largest ever single cancer cell RNA sequencing project. For the first time, researchers detected what they describe as a progenitor glioblastoma stem cell (GSC) — a cell type from which all other cancer cells develop. By targeting this cell type, it may be possible to halt or reverse cancer growth. The 2021 A Brilliant Night funds will help move the research forward.
This year’s main sponsors were BMO Banque de Montreal, Banque Nationale, CIBC, Desjardins, Morris and Rosalind Goodman Family Foundation, Constructions CAL, Courchesne Larose, Les Entreprises d'Électricité EG Ltée., Logistec, Metro, Plomberie Charbonneau Inc, The Rossy Family Foundation, and KPMG.