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2023 Cedars Run for Ovarian Cancer

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October 15 running and walking races raise over $135,000 for revolutionary research into the early detection of gynecological cancers at the MUHC

The 8th annual Cedars Run for Ovarian Cancer, which took place on Sunday, October 15, in the Town of Mount Royal, brought together over 480 participants, volunteers and guests, and raised over $135,000 for the DOvEEgene Research Program, which, under the leadership of renowned MUHC gynecological oncologist Dr. Lucy Gilbert, has developed a revolutionary new genomic test to detect ovarian and endometrial cancers as early as stage 1.

The event was founded by marathon-runner and ovarian cancer survivor Dominique Dagenais. It is the annual fundraiser for the Dagenais Joly-Smith Fund of the Cedars Cancer Foundation.

“My family and I are so grateful to all those who support the DOvEEgene Research Program and who are helping to continue the fight against gynecological cancers,” says Dominique. “Until recently, these cancers could not be detected until it was too late. Dr. Gilbert and her team keep pushing the boundaries of science and finding ways to diagnose them earlier. Their work has saved the lives of countless mothers, daughters and sisters.”

Ovarian and endometrial cancers have long been called “silent killers,” because their symptoms often resemble symptoms of menopause and indigestion, and because, until recently, there was no simple test to detect them. Approximately 3,000 Canadian women are diagnosed every year with ovarian and endometrial cancers, and about 75% of them are not diagnosed until their cancer reaches and advanced stage and is difficult to cure. As a result, 65% of them will die. This makes ovarian and endometrial cancers the deadliest of all of the gynecological cancers – and the fourth leading cause of death among Canadian women.

DOvEE (which stands for Diagnosing Ovarian and Endometrial cancers Early) is a world-class, research-based program at the MUHC. The fundamental goal of the project is to ensure that women have easy access to specialized medical examinations that allow for the earlier detection, diagnosis and treatment of ovarian and endometrial cancers. Improving accessibility to specialized medical tests means the difference between life and death: When ovarian cancer is diagnosed in its early stages, the survival rate increases from less than 30% to over 90%.

“If you can detect a cancer in its early stages, you can cure it,” explains Dr. Gilbert. “Our research has led to the development of the DOvEEgene genomic PAP test, which can detect these cancers in their earliest stages, so we can stop them in their tracks.”

Although still in the clinical study stage, the DOvEEgene Test has proven to be extremely effective. The hope is that, one day soon, it will be accessible to all women, at their doctor’s office, just like a cervical PAP test.

“The DOvEEgene Test is an absolute game-changer for women’s health,” says Jeff J. Shamie, President and CEO of the Cedars Cancer Foundation, which has been the funding arm of the MUHC’s fight against cancer for over 55 years. “Our mission at Cedars is to support excellence and innovations in clinical care, research, education, and supportive care services, so we are incredibly proud to support the transformative work of Dr. Gilbert and her team. Thank you also to Mayor Peter Malouf for allowing us to host this event in TMR for the 8th year!”

Organized by the The Cedars Cancer Foundation, which funds cancer research and care at the MUHC, the Cedars Run for Ovarian Cancer brings together families, friends, hospital employees, cancer patients, and cancer survivors. Participants register for a 2km run/walk, a timed 5km run/walk, or a timed 10km run. Teams often run in memory of a loved one, yet the atmosphere is always uplifting. As ovarian cancer survivor Marie-France Angers explains, “As a cancer survivor or patient, you feel incredibly supported and loved. Honestly, it puts me on a high and refuels my strength and courage for months. I think everyone there feels the same way.”

Andoni Irazusta, who was the runner with the fastest time in the 10km category, was awarded the Dr. Kris Jardon Memorial Trophy. This prize was created in memory of Dr. Kris Jardon, a skilled surgeon and compassionate gynecologic oncology physician who passed away from cancer in early 2021 and who had participated in the event since its conception.