Reception for the unveiling of The Robert & Maggie Bras And Family New Drug Development Program At Princess Margaret Cancer Centre February 13, 2003
This is a very emotional and rewarding day for the Bras Family. What an incredible turnout for a cause that is near and dear to our hearts. I want to thank each one of you for your presence here today. By being here, you have shown your support for The Bras Family New Drug Development Program – and our dream. And for this we thank you. I especially want to thank family and friends who have flown in from across North America. We appreciate, so much, the time you have taken to be here today.
Our journey leading up to today has been filled with many twists and turns, hills and valleys, laughter and tears, pain, stress, despair, and hope. It has been living and learning to live with cancer for more than three years.
My late husband, Robert, was a man of incredible strength. He was intelligent, generous, intense, compassionate. He had the softest of hearts – a big teddy bear. His focus was intense, his laughter was contagious. He worked hard, he played hard and he fought his cancer hard.
Over three and a half year ago, Robert was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Surgery, performed by Dr. Michael Jewett, was to be followed with radiation. Before this radiation could begin, Robert was diagnosed with yet another cancer – incurable gallbladder cancer. We were devastated. Robert was insistent that an aggressive approach be taken with this cancer and so surgery was performed by Dr. Paul Greig.
Unfortunately, removal of Rob’s gallbladder was impossible – Robert’s cancer had spread to his liver and beyond. Again, Robert was insistent that he was going to beat this. We were introduced to Dr. Malcolm Moore, who became our champion. Along with his front-line staff, he began to aggressively treat Rob’s cancer with chemo.
Robert’s cancer shrunk which enabled Dr. Greig to go back in. This was accomplished in record time and over the course of two years, Robert seesawed between remissions and treatment of his cancer. In the end, the cancer spread to Robert’s brain and spine.
An incredible part of this story is that during this three-year period, Robert went into work every day! Not only did he go into work, but he went across Canada with our company to visit potential investors. During most of this time, Robert was being administered chemo, either with a line attached to a port in his chest, which he carried around with him strapped to his waist or by-weekly visits to Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, to be administered by the wonderful staff in daycare.
Robert, somehow, day after day, put one foot in front of the other to conduct business, when as far as his family and health care professionals were concerned, he should have been lying in bed. That he carried on, speaks volumes of the man and his strength. This was Robert Bras.
Robert’s biggest hope and dream was to be cured – he never ever lost that hope. His prognosis was grim, but with hope, his strength and courage, with the support of his family, his friends, the skill of his doctors, with the excellent, compassionate care he received from his nurses and counselors and pharmacists and all the staff that we came in contact with at this great institution, and the University Health Network, he never ever lost that hope.
His fight is now our fight.
I am pleased that my family is here with me tonight. It gives me great pleasure to introduce my children; Robert and his wife Julie; Jamie; Sandra and her husband Stuart; Christina; Jason and his wife Jane and my daughter Jennifer.
Together we have made a commitment. We want to help find better treatments for people with cancer. That is why we have helped to establish this program along with Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. And we are so incredibly pleased that you also have made the commitment with us. Thank you!