President’s Message

Maggie Bras

Maggie Bras, President
Maggie Bras, President

Dear Reader:

My name is Maggie Bras, and I am the President of The Robert & Maggie Bras New Drug Development Program at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto.  My husband died of cancer 18 years ago.  He was 56.  And it was two years before that when we recognized the urgent need for new drugs to beat cancer.

Robert and I were a blended family of 6 children.  On August 29, 1998, we decided to officially tie the knot.  We held a private family service in our backyard, putting off our wedding reception until the following summer.

A month before our wedding reception, Robert was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer.  We decided to go ahead with our plans and kept the news of his cancer private.  Robert and I celebrated like there were no tomorrows.

Robert was very proactive in searching out the best treatment for his cancer and after visiting two cancer centre’s in the U.S. and the Princess Margaret in Toronto, he and I knew that Princess Margaret Cancer Centre offered his best chances of beating his cancer.

But a couple of months into his treatment for prostate cancer, being well looked after by Dr. Michel Jewett and his team, it was discovered that Robert had advanced Gallbladder cancer, which had spread to his liver!  This was when Dr. Malcolm Moore entered our lives.  Things were not looking good, but Robert was a fighter.

Dr. Moore exhausted all the standard treatments of care, so he decided to try a new drug called Gleevac.  Even though Gleevec was not a targeted drug for Prostate or Gallbladder cancer, it slowed down Robert’s progression so much that he went into remission.  Here was a new drug on the market that showed great promise.

But Robert’s remission did not last long although it gave him enough time for us to continue formulating and establishing a program that would benefit future cancer patients.  We made the decision to put together a fund, which would be devoted to research in new drug development and targeted cancer therapy at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. The name of the fund would be called The Robert & Maggie Bras and Family New Drug Development Program, with Dr. Malcolm Moore as the director, and Dr. Lillian Siu and Dr. Amit Oza as co-directors.   Officially the fund was established on August 29, 2002 and Robert died on September 4, 2002.

Today as I write this article in our 20th year I would like to thank all those who have worked tirelessly to develop and fund new drugs to treat cancer.  Robert did not live to see the progress that has been made in cancer therapy, but he had hope that it would be so.

There have been many changes within the BRAS DDP over the last 20 years but one that hit us hard was losing Dr. Malcolm Moore.  In 2015, Dr. Malcolm Moore was appointed President of the B.C. Cancer Agency.  Malcolm left behind a legacy of achievement and dedication as an oncologist, researcher, and clinical pharmacologist.  He has been missed.  Thank you, Malcolm, for your years of incredible leadership and dedication to Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and the BRAS Drug Development Program. You were instrumental in forming The Robert & Maggie Bras and Family New Drug Development Program and you were our leader. We were sad to see you go.

Maggie Bras
President

  • Savour and enjoy and appreciate. Love harder, share more, give often and say ‘thank you’.

    Lee PettersenLee PettersenBras Drug Trial Patient
  • ...the good news is, that the doctors at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and the BRAS Drug Development Program, don’t give up! They continue to be able to offer me the latest treatments.

    Mr. Robert KiddMr. Robert KiddBRAS DDP drug trial patient
  • Since I started this trial, I've gotten two years that I shouldn't have. That's given me more time with my family. I've welcomed two beautiful grandchildren into this world and now we've got another one on the way. My husband, Aleks, my rock, my constant source of strength - he and I know what this time means. We see our kids as much as we can. We've managed to have two trips to Europe and to go south a couple of times. We make new memories every day.

    Janet Janet Phase I clinical trial patient
  • Squeeze every drop of joy out of each day. Do not wait to live your life – tomorrow is not guaranteed for anyone.

    Lee PettersenLee PettersenBras Drug Trial Patient
  • I’ve heard stories of people being on ten to twelve drug trials, and this is only my second, and it’s been remarkable, and in both cases I’ve had a positive outcome. The first drug trial, my tumours shrank, certainly not as much as they have now, and when the medications stopped working in the first trial, the tumours grew back. And so, as I have said, having 47% shrinkage is quite remarkable. I am healthy, and I am lucky.

    Bobbi Pfisherer-CohenBobbi Pfisherer-CohenBRAS DDP drug trial patient
  • I found out good news today. My cancer has now shrunk another 3% to 50%, and I feel GREAT! I feel great at the end of each day. I am living a normal life in one year since entering the new drug trial. That is how quick it was! I have been given my life back, and the gift has been enormous.

    Robert David KiddRobert David KiddBras Drug Trial Patient
  • A terminal illness is a wakeup call to LIVE, really LIVE.

    Lee PettersenLee PettersenBras Drug Trial Patient