The MUHC Foundation's Health Matters

Promising new treatments for severe COVID-19

June 12, 2022 The McGill University Health Centre Foundation Season 2 Episode 36
The MUHC Foundation's Health Matters
Promising new treatments for severe COVID-19
Show Notes Transcript

This week on Health Matters, Tarah Schwartz and Dr. Deborah Assayag discusses Interstitial Lung Disease (ILD) and helping patients breathe as comfortably as possible. Dr. David Langlais shares a promising study on three drugs that could help treat patients fighting severe COVID-19. Jacques Filion reveals the record-breaking total raised at the Lachine Hospital Foundation’s fundraising gala. Plus, real estate agent Lynne Leclair shares why she is lowering her commission to give back to an incredibly personal cause. 

Cette semaine à Question de santé, Tarah Schwartz discute avec la Dre Deborah Assayag des maladies pulmonaires interstitielles (MPI) et de l’aide que nous offrons aux patients pour respirer aussi confortablement que possible. Le Dr David Langlais nous fera aussi part d’une étude prometteuse sur trois médicaments qui pourraient aider à traiter les patients luttant contre des cas sévères de COVID-19. Jacques Filion révèlera le montant record recueilli lors du gala de collecte de fonds de la Fondation de l’Hôpital de Lachine. Puis enfin, l’agente immobilière Lynne Leclair nous expliquera pourquoi elle réduit sa commission afin de soutenir une cause qui lui tient vraiment à cœur.

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Tarah Schwartz:

Hello there. Thank you for joining us. I'm Tarah Schwartz and this is Health Matters on CJAD 800. On today's show, researchers are working to find better treatments for patients who are severely ill with COVID 19. A new study from the Research Institute at the MUHC found three promising treatments. We hear from a researcher who details how these could help those who are vulnerable. And a real estate agent shares her touching reason behind lowering her commission to give back to a cause close to her heart. But first, it's easy to take for granted being able to breathe easily until you are unable to. There are numerous lung conditions that can have a devastating impact on the lives of the patients who live with them. One group of diseases is known as interstitial lung disease or ILD. The Montreal Chest Institute has a clinic devoted to helping those living with ILD live as comfortably as possible. Dr. Deborah Assayag is a respirologist at the Interstitial Lung Disease Clinic of the Montreal Chest Institute, and a scientist with the RI-MUHC. Dr. Assayag. Thank you so much for joining us.

Dr. Deborah Assayag:

Thank you so much for having me.

Tarah Schwartz:

Interstitial Lung Disease covers a few different disorders. Can you help us understand it a little bit better?

Dr. Deborah Assayag:

Yes, absolutely. Interstitial Lung diseases, or ILD. Sometimes, we call them pulmonary fibrosis. They really are a group of diseases that affect the lung tissue itself. They're characterized by really inflammation of the lung tissue and this inflammation eventually can lead to scarring of the lung tissue itself, which is what we call fibrosis.

Tarah Schwartz:

And so how does that scarring of the lung tissue and inflammation impact people who live with these conditions?

Dr. Deborah Assayag:

It has many different impacts on patients who suffer from Interstitial Lung Disease. So patients with ILD- they develop progressive, worsening trouble breathing, basically. They get more and more short of breath. It can start very insidiously; people aren't really aware of it. But more and more, they start feeling like it's more and more difficult to breathe when they do their daily activities. And some people have a lot of coughs, that can be very difficult, especially these days when it's really frowned upon to cough in public. Over time the quality of life really becomes impaired. Not only that, but because it's most often a progressive disease. The lifespan of patients who are affected with Interstitial Lung Disease can be dramatically shortened.

Tarah Schwartz:

It must be a terrible, terrible feeling to not feel like you can breathe easily. What do your patients tell you about how they feel? How do they describe that?

Dr. Deborah Assayag:

You're right, Tarah. It's very difficult for our patients to not feel like they can catch their breath. Usually the patients will describe... early on, they'll tell me things like, I can't run after my grandkids anymore, or I can't go up the stairs with my groceries anymore like I used to a couple of years ago. With time it becomes worse and worse. And even small things, small activities like going from the kitchen to the bathroom becomes difficult. A lot of my patients will say that when they're sitting down, they feel fine. It's really on effort and sometimes on very minimal effort, that they start having difficulty breathing. It's very distressing for patients to experience this for sure.

Tarah Schwartz:

We are speaking with Dr. Deborah Assayag. Again, we're talking about lung disease, specifically something called Interstitial Lung Diseases. Dr. Assayag, who is susceptible to this? Is this something that affects more the elderly? Can anybody be touched by Interstitial Lung Disease?

Dr. Deborah Assayag:

Because it's a group of different diseases, they have different causes. Depending on what the cause of the disease is, it'll affect different types of patients. For example, people who have been exposed to asbestos as part of their work or other occupational dusts, can be at risk of developing Interstitial Lung Disease. So that will tend to occur later on in life; over the age of 50. There are also groups of disease that we call autoimmune diseases where basically the immune system, it causes inflammation in the lung. That can occur in younger people, people in their 30s and 40s and that also can affect predominantly women. Really a large proportion of the population is at risk. Overall, I have to say it is a rare disease. It's not very common if we compare it to something like asthma, for instance. So it's much more rare, but I do see younger patients and I do see a lot of older patients as well.

Tarah Schwartz:

Do you have any idea why tends to affect women more? I was interested when you said that.

Dr. Deborah Assayag:

That's really for a specific type of Interstitial Lung Disease that's caused by a problem of the immune system. And that's often associated with diseases of the immune system like rheumatologic diseases, things like rheumatoid arthritis, which you may have heard of. Or rare disease called scleroderma. So overall, these autoimmune diseases tend to occur in women and in younger women. In contrast, there are other types of Interstitial Lung Disease that tend to occur because of aging in the lungs. There are certain risk factors like smoking and as I said, some occupational exposures. These tend to happen a little bit more in men and certainly in older men.

Tarah Schwartz:

You mentioned that it's far more rare than asthma. How many people is that? How do you quantify rare when you're talking about these kinds of diseases?

Dr. Deborah Assayag:

There has been studies that looked at that- how often does this disease occur in Canada and in Quebec. We do have studies that basically look at what we call the prevalence of the disease or how often it occurs. And so if you take 100,000 Canadians; about 30 to 40 of them will have Interstitial Lung Disease at any time. It depends a little bit on the age of the patients and so on. But, we think between 30 and 40 persons per 100,000, if that makes sense.

Tarah Schwartz:

It does, absolutely. Dr. Deborah Assayag is with us today; we're talking about Interstitial Lung Disease. What are some of the ways that you are helping patients live more comfortably?

Dr. Deborah Assayag:

We do that in different ways. At our Interstitial Lung Disease Clinic at the MUHC, we have three physicians who are specialized in Interstitial Lung Disease. We see patients with this disease that are referred to us with either a new diagnosis, or when they're treating respirologist finds it too complicated to manage these patients, and they refer them to us at our clinic. We offer an expertise- we look at these cases, we look at the patients and we review the whole history. Their work history, their past medical history, we look at their chest imaging, so their chest x-rays and their CT scans, and all of those things. Often we present these cases in a multidisciplinary meeting, where we can review all this information and really come up with what we think is the best diagnosis, and the best management for these patients. Management could include medications, but it also means a lot of things that we do to help our patients that are not medications.

Tarah Schwartz:

As far as you know these kinds of treatments, have they changed a lot over the years? How you treat patients?

Dr. Deborah Assayag:

So they have. The medications until fairly recently, we didn't have any good medications to treat patients with Interstitial Lung Disease. In the last 10 to 15 years, we've had a lot of research and we have new medications that help treat either the inflammation in the lung, or the lung scarring or the fibrosis in the lung. These have really developed quite a lot in the last 10 years. But unfortunately, we can't reverse the Interstitial Lung Disease, and especially when it's scarred already. If the lung is already scarred, we tend to take that scar away. At best, what we can do is to slow down the progression of the disease and prevent it from getting worse too fast or too soon.

Tarah Schwartz:

Is this the kind of thing where someone could be eligible for a lung transplant?

Dr. Deborah Assayag:

Eventually yes, exactly. The only cure that we have for Interstitial Lung Disease is a lung transplantation. But unfortunately, that's really not available to all our patients because of the risks involved in such a big surgery. Eventually yes, I've had patients of ours that do end up going for a lung transplant and those have been generally successful because the patients are so well selected. That's really the only cure; it does generally give them a second life.

Tarah Schwartz:

I imagine. Really I find the lungs absolutely fascinating. Especially since doing the show, we've done many shows on the lungs and in various aspects and I find it also interesting. What drew you to wanting to study them?

Dr. Deborah Assayag:

That's a really great question. I also find the lungs fascinating. The lungs are constantly exposed to the outside air. Lung tissue, if you look at it under the microscope, it's very, very, very thin, because it has to allow the oxygen to go from the air and into our blood so that we can live and we can feed our muscles with oxygen. So the actual lung tissue is so thin and so delicate. It's like a lacy network of cells that are very, very thin and very delicate. And what happens in Interstitial Lung Diseases that little lacy, very thin tissue becomes thickened and scarred. And I just... I just found it really tragic. This is really what drew me to lung disease in general and specifically to Interstitial Lung Disease.

Tarah Schwartz:

Dr. Deborah Assayag, it's been a real treat to talk to you today. I feel like I learned a lot. Thank you so much for joining us on Health Matters.

Dr. Deborah Assayag:

Thank you so much for having me. It was a pleasure.

Tarah Schwartz:

Next up, a team at the Research Institute of the MUHC has found three promising treatments for patients with severe COVID 19. I'm Tarah Schwartz. Welcome back to Health Matters on CJAD 800. We are fortunate to have had researchers from around the globe collaborate to find vaccines that were effective in preventing severe COVID-19. While it is not possible to completely prevent severe COVID; particularly for those who are not vaccinated, researchers are looking for more ways to help treat severe illness. A new study from the Research Institute of the MUHC has identified three promising treatments. Dr. David Langlais is an Assistant Professor in McGill School of Biomedical Sciences based at the McGill Genome Center, and co-senior author of the study. Thank you so much for joining us. Dr. Langlais.

Dr. David Langlais:

Thanks for having me.

Tarah Schwartz:

We have the vaccines, which are quite effective at preventing severe COVID-19. What is currently available in terms of treatments for severe COVID?

Dr. David Langlais:

Yes, you're right, vaccine is the most effective way to prevent severe COVID-19. But as you said in your introduction, people can still develop severe COVID. And some people have vaccine hesitancy as well, so they don't get vaccinated. And also, there's a possibility that new variants may go around the protective effect of vaccines. So, for now, there's not many drugs that are able to treat severe COVID to be honest.

Tarah Schwartz:

There are no separate drugs for severe COVID versus COVID-19; it's the same drugs that are given to everybody. Is that correct?

Dr. David Langlais:

No, in fact, there's a few drugs that were developed. A lot of people around the globe worked on trying to find drugs to treat COVID-19. But the few ones that were developed including Paxlovid from Pfizer, they are intended to treat mild to medium symptoms from COVID. There's barely anything to treat severe COVID except mechanical ventilation, and the treatment by systemic administration of dexamethasone, which is a corticosteroid. A drug like cortisone that is used to try to reduce inflammation in the lungs. But besides that, there's no drug approved for now to treat severe hospitalized cases.

Tarah Schwartz:

You mentioned that severe COVID patients rely on ventilation that we might see other variants come around. Were those some of the reasons why you felt it was important to continue to look for other treatments? And are there other reasons?

Dr. David Langlais:

Yes. The study really started at the beginning of the pandemic. The study came out last week in publication, but it really started a while ago. Our motivation was to try to find a solution for those patients that even though they could be vaccinated or not, but they get into the ICU and you have nothing to treat them. It's very difficult for the families. It's very difficult also for the patient themselves, obviously. Clinicians also feel very powerless in trying to treat those patients because there's nothing. So we try to use a different approach than what's used usually to find new solutions to treat these severe COVID cases.

Tarah Schwartz:

I thought that was really interesting what you said about people who are treating patients feeling powerless. It's very powerful. We are speaking with Dr. David Langlais; we're talking about ways to prevent severe COVID 19. Dr. Langlais, you mentioned that the study came out just this last week. You identified three drugs in the study. Can you describe generally how they helped fight severe COVID infections? What did you learn?

Dr. David Langlais:

Yes. In comparison to what other people have done to try to understand those severe COVID cases; usually people have tried to understand what differentiates a mild case versus a severe case. But what we did is we took a systems biology approach which means that we try to look at the different cell types in the blood altogether. We also look at the genes they are expressing. And we also look at how the cells are encoding the usage of these genes to find what are the differences between all the severe COVID cases that are hospitalized and ventilated in the ICU. But what makes the difference between the ones that will survive, and the one that will succumb from the infection? And that brought us to find very striking differences. Already when the patient gets hospitalized between those two groups of patients. So as you said, we identified three potential drugs that could be able to treat severe cold cases, including two drugs that we think are able to reduce the infectivity of the virus and reduce inflammation. They are called tacrolimus and zotatifin. It's a mouthful, when you say them.

Tarah Schwartz:

It is!

Dr. David Langlais:

They have potential different mechanism of action, which is still unclear and other groups are working on trying to understand how they work. But they could do similar things. And we also identified nintedanib which is a drug that is currently used in pulmonary fibrosis treatment.

Tarah Schwartz:

I thought it was really interesting what you said that in the study you were looking at, what's the difference between someone who succumbs to severe COVID, takes longer to succumb, doesn't get as ill? Can you share a little bit more about what you learned around that? Why some people would be more targeted, more hit by the virus?

Dr. David Langlais:

Yeah, so in the study we got quite a bit of evidence about what can distinguish them. Obviously, it's probably not the only differences, there's probably more. But what makes the big difference as we've seen for the difference in the mild versus severe COVID cases; there's a strong interferon which are molecules that are inducing inflammation. There's a strong interferon signaling in those patients; even stronger in the COVID cases that will succumb. That's the first thing but the other thing is that we found that those patients that will succumb also have an increase in the genes and the molecular mechanisms that are involved in regulating the RNA and as you know, COVID is an RNA virus. So we think that in those patients, the virus is better at hijacking the machinery to process its own RNA, to be able to replicate more.

Tarah Schwartz:

We are speaking with Dr. David Langlais; we're talking about a new study looking at ways to prevent severe COVID-19. What is the next step for this research, Dr. Langlais?

Dr. David Langlais:

Excellent question. (laughs)

Tarah Schwartz:

(laughs) What's next?

Dr. David Langlais:

We're always looking at what's coming next with those with those studies. Obviously, the next step here is to test those drugs to try to see if they can really work. What we've done in our study is to bring some biological knowledge; to suggest that these drug could be effective against severe COVID cases, to treat them. And so what's next is really to make sure and prove that they can indeed work in clinical trials. So we're really looking forward to see if we can confirm the efficacy of these three drugs to reduce mortality of severely-ill COVID cases.

Tarah Schwartz:

Is that a difficult process to prove your research in this case, you said mentioned clinical trials, so people would have to test out the medication is that a long, difficult process? Tell us a little bit about it.

Dr. David Langlais:

It is a difficult process. But we're lucky for COVID, most countries that streamline their clinical trial process. So it's a bit accelerated, mainly at the stage of the design and at the stage of the approval. Not so much as the stage of trying to do the clinical trials, because they need to be done in a very formal way. But we're lucky enough that some clinical trials were already started by other groups on the drugs that were proposed, but they were initiated based on some molecular tests that were done. So taking the drugs and putting them on the virus in a dish because based on the known function of those drugs perhaps they would work. But here what we do with our study is that we bring knowledge about the fact that we have a good biological reason to show that they are very good potential drugs to treat COVID cases. So the first clinical trials that were started by other groups are showing very positive results. But there's still a long way, I think.

Tarah Schwartz:

Well, we hope to hear more about this study down the road. So let us know if you have anything new and exciting to share with us. Dr. David Langlais, thank you so much for your time today for joining us on the show.

Dr. David Langlais:

Thank you very much for the invitation. Have a great day.

Tarah Schwartz:

You too. Next up on Health Matters. The Lachine Hospital Foundation raised a record breaking total at their fundraising gala, we shared the incredible news. I'm Tarah Schwartz, and this is Health Matters. Last week, we shared the exciting news about the MUHC Foundation's Le Bal Rouge fundraising gala. We have wonderful news to share about the Lachine Hospital Foundation fundraising gala. In case you didn't know the Lachine Hospital Foundation and the MUHC Foundation came together in January to work to raise $5 million in support of the modernization project of the Lachine hospital. Under the same umbrella, we'll be able to support Lachine, Dorval and the surrounding communities by purchasing cutting-edge equipment for the hospital not covered by government budgets. And this year, we were able to raise a record-breaking total, which my next guest will reveal. Jacques Filion is the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Lachine Hospital Foundation and he joins us now. Hello Jacques.

Jacques Filion:

Yes. Good morning. How are you?

Tarah Schwartz:

I am well; thank you. The Lachine Hospital Foundation held its fundraising gala. Tell us what that was like this year?

Jacques Filion:

It was really fantastic because we used to have a gala every year. Our last one was like many galas in 2019. So it was nice to see everyone and see everyone having a beautiful evening, having a great meal, having fun and all that. And mostly helped us raise a net amount of $125,000 that will go directly to our campaign to purchase equipment, as you mentioned.

Tarah Schwartz:

Was this a surprise to you that you had a record breaking year? Were you worried that people would be feeling less generous during a time of COVID? Or did you expect that it was going to be a wonderful turnout?

Jacques Filion:

Yeah, we were expecting that it would be that dimension. We hoped it would be and it got there. Also usually at our gala, we used to have about 400 people. We decided this year to limit it at 260-270 because of COVID. Obviously these decisions are taking three months or four months before and we didn't know really how everything would stand then. And I guess people were comfortable in an environment where there were less people as well. But thanks to our sponsors, our main sponsors -Aldo construction and Amazon, and all our other sponsors, and obviously all the participants who helped us have a great evening,

Tarah Schwartz:

We're speaking with Jacques Filion Chair of the Board of Directors of the Lachine Hospital Foundation. We're talking about a record-breaking fundraising gala that just took place- $125,000. Jacques, I know that you've had some recent health issues, and you received excellent care at the Lachine hospital. We're so happy that you're feeling better. What was that experience like for you being the Chair of the Board of Directors and then all of a sudden being a patient?

Jacques Filion:

Of course, when I go to the hospital, people don't know me. And I prefer it to be that way. On May 11, I had a heart attack and in the evening, I'm lucky my wife decided take the car and the Royal Vic on the Glen site at the MUHC. Right away there was a team waiting for me at the coronary intervention block. They unclogged the heart artery that was causing all the issues. I stayed there for a week in the ICU because they did another intervention to unclog other ones. All I can say is Lachine reacted really well. And everyone at the Royal Vic did a fantastic job. How privileged we are to have such good health care and such good hospitals.

Tarah Schwartz:

Absolutely. And it must be interesting for you, Jacques- how many years have you been the Chair of the Board of Lachine Hospital Foundation?

Jacques Filion:

23 years now.

Tarah Schwartz:

So you've spent 23 years raising money for hospitals, ensuring that we can have the best possible care, excellence in health care. What was that like for you to know that part of the care you received and part of the wonder of this exceptional medical system we have comes from philanthropy and people like you who are pioneering and making sure that, that people understand that philanthropy in health care is so critical. What was that like?

Jacques Filion:

It is critical and there is still so much to do because the needs are there. But I can tell you that, obviously, when you get the news, it's not a very good news. But after you've swallowed it, it's good to feel that we're probably in the best place in the world to have such good conditions and have such good health care. So it is really nice to see that.

Tarah Schwartz:

Let's talk about the modernization project of Lachine hospital, what can people expect to see at the hospital over the course of the next months and years?

Jacques Filion:

It's going to be so nice. Actually, construction should start in the upcoming weeks, we're talking about a $210 million project, it's going to be the building of a new wing, which will be more than 50% the size of the current hospital, sixth floor wing, all brand new, with all the commodities where the emergency, ICU, surgery blocks will be as well. So it will be fantastic. We saw pictures of it. I guess for those who have worked a lot with the hospital over the last few years, it was hard not to have a little tear when we when we saw that. It's going to be so good for the community and people will receive even better health services with newer equipment, newer buildings, with more services, so it's going to be fantastic for the Lachine, Dorval and surrounding communities.

Tarah Schwartz:

It absolutely will and I love hearing you talk about it. I love the enthusiasm, the MUHC Foundation, the Lachine Hospital Foundation are working together to raise $5 million, that's going to be for? Tell us what that money will fund?

Jacques Filion:

It's supposed to be for equipment that is not subsidized by the government. In all major hospital construction, as we will have, the government always asks the community to chip in a part of it and rightfully so as well. I think it's important that hospitals have strong foundations that are well-supported by the communities to be able to do this. So we have a whole slate of equipment that will be financed with this $5 million. It's really going to be for health care and for the comfort of the patients and obviously, of the employees as well, who provide those services to the patients.

Tarah Schwartz:

Jacques Filion is the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Lachine Hospital Foundation; the modernization of the Lachine hospital is going to begin anytime now. What do you hear from people, Jacques, who use the hospital, who live in the community, Dorval, Lachine, surrounding areas, about this modernization? Are people excited about it? I know some doctors we've spoken to said they're very excited because it's been a long time coming. What have you been hearing?

Jacques Filion:

It's all so positive. What will be important is for everyone to know what is really upcoming in Lachine. Lachine has had some years where it was more precarious. Closing of the emergency and all these things. Of course, there's scarcity of personnel, I think, everywhere. It affects the health system as well and in Lachine will live that as well. But obviously, when we're going to have a brand new hospital, it's going to be so much easier to attract great people to work with us. Already it is and people appreciate it; they appreciate the family experience in Lachine. But with all of this new equipment, these new buildings and all that; people will be even more excited to work in Lachine. And scarcity, and precariousness will be something of the past.

Tarah Schwartz:

Absolutely. It is really an exciting project and we'll certainly be talking more about it as it begins. If you'd like to see some photos from the Lachine Hospital fundraising gala, you can just head to Lachine Hospital Foundation website. They're all up there. And to learn more about the modernization project that is all up there as well. Jacques Filion, I want to thank you so much for joining us on the show today, always a pleasure to speak with you.

Jacques Filion:

Thank you so much Tarah and all the best of you.

Tarah Schwartz:

Coming up on Health Matters, a real estate agent shares why she is lowering her commission to fundraise for a cause close to her heart. I'm Tarah Schwartz, you're listening to Health Matters. Many of us know what it's like to support a loved one who is ill, it can be an eye-opening experience. Lynne Leclair knows what it's like to care for loved ones who are unwell and it inspired her to give back. She is a residential real estate broker with Sotheby's International Realty Quebec, who has lowered her commission to give back to the MUHC Foundation. And she joins us now. Hello, Lynne.

Lynne Leclair:

Hi Tarah, thank you for giving me this opportunity to share my project with your listeners.

Tarah Schwartz:

Oh, we're happy to have you, Lynne. So let's begin with this what inspired you to lower your commission to

Lynne Leclair:

Well, my parents really inspired me because they ask your clients for a donation to the MUHC Foundation? were both diagnosed with cancer at the same time- terminal cancer. As you can imagine, it's not easy. Actually, nobody can imagine that unless they've been through this experience. So I think the feeling of helplessness really made me decide to help. I couldn't stay without doing anything. So this is how I decided to make a difference. And, I've been involved in many fundraising, and all these kinds of activities to help. Everybody loves to help and make a difference, of course. And I know also, it's not easy to always ask money from the same friends and family. And especially now, everything is much more expensive. I was trying to find a way to not have to bug my family or friends for money again. And I think I found this way, which I think it's a great idea. So this way I can I help people that are looking to buy or sell a home...

Tarah Schwartz:

Lynne, I want to get into it in just a moment. But first, I want to get back to your parents, I want to get back to what inspired you. First of all, I'm so sorry about that. I've lived it myself so I really do understand. I'm sorry for your loss. Tell us a little bit about when that happened and what your parents were like, and what kind of care you had to give them?

Lynne Leclair:

I think it was about two weeks apart where I was going with them for I thought just a general doctor's appointments. And then, to be sitting there and with them and receiving this diagnosis. I was speechless. The reaction in the room is so hard. You don't know what to say and it's that feeling of helplessness. Like, there's nothing to do because it was terminal cancer in both cases. I couldn't believe, two weeks apart that, that I would know this. It was really like... you can't imagine. So you have to live with them with the feeling that they will die. I remember my dad was so desperate to find these treatments, personalized treatment that would maybe give him a chance to survive this cancer He tried, he has surgery and all these things. My mom couldn't have surgery because her lungs were too affected so they couldn't even operate on her. So it's just to be there for them while the live this really difficult experience. I could see that even my mother didn't realize until her she died that she was actually dying. She was in denial. So it's all difficult.

Tarah Schwartz:

It really is.

Lynne Leclair:

Yeah.

Tarah Schwartz:

So let's talk about this decision that you had to give back. So as a real estate broker, you came up with this idea that you would lower your commission, and you would approach your clients with that idea. Tell us a little bit about what the reaction has been like.

Lynne Leclair:

The reaction is really amazing because I can see that from that moment; it's not about a financial transaction. It is really more than that. Everybody wants to make a difference. Everybody wants to help and they can see now this opportunity that; Yes, they will realize their goal to sell or their dream to buy a house, but at the same time, they will also help someone to realize their dream to live cancer free. I can see that now, it's a good thing. It's not going to cost me extra money. It's a win-win-win situation; I'm calling it. Because they win, I win because I'm happy that they accepted to make this donation and then also, someone who is suffering from cancer is winning. So I'm thinking it's a great idea.

Tarah Schwartz:

We're speaking with Lynne Leclair and we're talking about her decision to give back using her position as a realtor, what is your fundraising goal, Lynne?

Lynne Leclair:

My goal is to give $200,000. I have already made some donations, and I already have customers who agreed to participate, which I'm very grateful for. I'm looking forward to have any other customers that are looking to sell or buy their home to reach out to me so I could help them realize their dream. And someone is fighting with cancer can also realize their dream.

Tarah Schwartz:

There are many charities in Montreal and Quebec. Why did you choose the MUHC foundation?

Lynne Leclair:

First of all, I have the great opportunity to meet the doctors and the scientists in the Research Institute. I could see all the passion and devotion to find these treatments to find a way to treat patients and to eradicate cancer. I was really impressed with them and the really inspired me. I could feel that there is such a great team of people and that's why I wanted to work with them.

Tarah Schwartz:

How special was it for you when your very first client agreed to help?

Lynne Leclair:

Well, as it turned out, destiny brought me a doctor as a first customer. And so, you know, Dr. Valerie Roy is a pediatrician. Also she's such an amazing person and devoted doctor as well. When I sat with her and we started talking at the beginning; I could feel that I was just another real estate agent. And then when I started talking about my project, I could see her eyes change, and she was really touched by my project. It was also special because her decision to sell her house was a bit difficult. It was a house that she had built 20 years ago, she had raised her family there. So it was a bit of a difficult experience. Because of the way we were working together and this donation, project, it turned out to be a different experience. It was a more positive experience. She was really happy and so it was turned out very great.

Tarah Schwartz:

Glad to hear if you would like to learn more about Lynne Leclair and her story and her project, you can just head to MUHC Foundation dot com, our website and you'll find it there. Lynne Leclair, congratulations on this wonderful initiative. Thank you so much for joining us on the show.

Lynne Leclair:

Thank you so much.

Tarah Schwartz:

I'm Tarah Schwartz. Thank you for tuning in. You can learn more about the stories and the people we talk about on the show at MUHC Foundation dot com. And while you're there, you can sign up to our newsletter which means you'll join our community and learn all about the research, the staff, the inspiring patient stories that we share each month. I hope you'll join me again next Sunday. Thank you so much for listening to Health Matters and stay healthy.