MONTRÉAL, November 22, 2022 – Over $1.8 million were raised for cancer research, treatment, education, and supportive care thanks to the second biennial gala of the Cedars Cancer Centre. Hosted by the Cedars Cancer Foundation, the gala was held on Saturday, November 19, in Windsor Station’s Salle des pas perdus. More than 550 guests were brought to their feet with powerful performances by Grammy winning R&B and disco queen Thelma Houston and Canada’s very own American Idol sensation, Nicolina.
Called “Le Gala – At the Leading Edge,” the event honoured the talented interdisciplinary teams of healthcare professionals who work at the Cedars Cancer Centre at the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC). At the same time, the event shone a spotlight on the exciting new developments that are happening there. The gala’s co-chairs were Paola Aprikian and Daphne Tsadilas Shamie, and its honorary co-chairs were Dr. Armen Aprikian, Diana Ferrara Scalia and Adam Turner.
Dr. Armen Aprikian, medical director of the Cancer Care Mission of the MUHC, stressed the role that philanthropy plays in allowing the Cedars Cancer Centre to pursue its goals. “Our mission is to improve the health and well-being of all MUHC cancer patients and their families by supporting excellence and innovation in research, treatment, education, and supportive care services. To do this, we count on the generous contributions of our patrons and partners. That’s why I’m truly grateful to everyone here tonight. You are making a real difference in the fight against this terrible disease,” he said.
“I would like to thank the interdisciplinary team of the Cancer Care Mission,” said Dr. Pierre Gfeller, the president and executive director of the MUHC. “By working together, they achieve great results and offer the world the best possible gift: the hope of beating cancer.”
“The women and men who work at the Cedars Cancer Centre – from nurses, doctors and allied health professionals, to researchers, support staff and volunteers – go beyond the call of duty every day. They are models of dedication, determination, and compassion,” said Jeff J. Shamie, the president and CEO of the Cedars Cancer Foundation. “We are delighted to host such a tribute in their honour. Le Gala allows us to support them in their fight against cancer, ensuring that they can continue to work at the leading edge of research, treatment and care.”
Event guests included cancer survivor Marc Normandeau, a medical communications specialist at L’Oréal. “I’m sitting here tonight having survived acute lymphoblastic leukemia three times. I was diagnosed when I was only four, then again at 13, and then again as an adult. I was first treated at the old Children’s Hospital, on Sarah’s Floor. The medical personnel there took really good care of me and my family. They made it feel like my second home,” he said. “My goal is to ensure that other cancer patients don’t have to hear the dreaded words ‘it’s back.’ That’s why I’m here and why I’m so grateful to everyone else who came out tonight to support Cedars,” he added.
Music, which has a healing effect, was at the heart of the gala, and guests could not help singing and dancing when the stars of the evening, Thelma Houston and Nicolina, took to the stage. Houston, who won the Grammy for Best Female R & B Performance in 1978, sang a handful of Motown hits, culminating in her Grammy-winning song “Don’t Leave Me This Way.” Nicolina, the 19-year-old singing sensation from Vaughan, Ontario, who was one of American Idol Season 20’s top five contestants, also wowed guests with her powerful vocals as she covered “Rise Up” by Andra Day and Leonard Cohen’s iconic “Hallelujah.”
“I’d like to thank everyone who helped organize the event and who played a role in making it such a huge success,” added Paola Aprikian, event co-chair. “I especially wish to single out the presenting sponsors, the Brien and Aghazarian families, whose contributions made it all possible.”
Other attendees included Peter Kruyt, the chair of the MUHC Board of Directors, and his wife, Claire Mullins; Tony Aksa, the chair of the Cedars’ Board, and his wife, Carine Bou Karam; John and Phyllis Rae; George and Simé Armoyan; Arden and Christine Dervishian; the ambassador of Lebanon to Canada, Fadi Ziadeh, and his wife, Tania; the honorary consul of Armenia in Québec, Levon Afeyan, and his wife, Ana; Michael Flinker and Dr. Marcia Gillman; Louis Vachon and Chantal Carrier; Ronald Reuben and Myriam Dahan; Christopher Nacos and Sarah Lamarche; Frank and Mary Rana; Demo and Evelyn Trifonopoulos; Sam Kersheh and Brigitte Lalanda; Nadim Rizk and Audrey Huot; Gwen Nacos; Dr. Roger Tabah; Lisa Chamandy; Sarah and Catherine Cook; Peggy Tabet and Joseph El Khoury; Andrew Carter; and Anthony Calvillo.