The MUHC Foundation's Health Matters

Our philanthropic community’s incredible impact

June 26, 2022 The McGill University Health Centre Foundation Season 2 Episode 38
The MUHC Foundation's Health Matters
Our philanthropic community’s incredible impact
Show Notes Transcript

This week on Health Matters, we are more than halfway to our $200 million Dream Big fundraising goal. Tarah Schwartz and Suzanne Legge Orr, co-chair of the campaign, discuss the significance of giving back. Dr. Marcel Behr, the Director of MI4, provides an update on COVID-19 and monkey pox situations in Quebec. And, Mark Goren shares his father’s health care journey including a battle with pancreatic cancer and how this experience inspired his family to fundraise for the MUHC Foundation to help other families have a positive outcome. 

Cette semaine à Question de santé, nous avons atteint plus de la moitié de notre objectif de collecte de fonds de 200 millions de dollars pour « Osez rêver ». Tarah Schwartz et Suzanne Legge Orr, coprésidente de la campagne, discuteront de l’importance de donner en retour. Le Dr Marcel Behr, directeur de MI4, fera ensuite le point sur la situation COVID actuelle et la variole du singe au Québec. Finalement, Mark Goren partagera avec nous le parcours de santé de son père, dont sa bataille contre le cancer du pancréas et comment cette expérience a inspiré sa famille à collecter des fonds pour la Fondation du CUSM, afin d’aider d’autres familles à obtenir des résultats tout aussi positifs.

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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, if you know what it's like to care for a loved one who is ill, you know there are many ways to support them on their health care journey. Later in the show, we speak with a man whose father had many health setbacks, but the experience inspired him and his family to give back and become part of a philanthropic community. To begin, though, we launched the MUHC Foundation's Dream Big campaign in September 2020. The campaign is dedicated to raising $200 million to transform the MUHC, which is one of the world's newest and most advanced teaching hospital networks into a leading international hub for innovative clinical research. And we are getting closer to that goal every day with donations of all sizes to the MUHC Foundation. We are incredibly pleased to report that we are more than halfway toward our $200 million goal. Suzanne Legge Orr is the co-chair of our Dream Big campaign and she joins me now. Suzanne, thanks so much for being with us.

Suzanne Legge Orr:

Well, thank you, Tarah. Nice to be here.

Tarah Schwartz:

I have had the pleasure, Suzie of getting to know you a little bit over the last year and a half. And I would love people to get to know you a little bit here as well. So tell us something about you tell us a little bit about Suzanne Legge Orr.

Suzanne Legge Orr:

Wow!

Tarah Schwartz:

I know a big question to start with, tell us about yourself.

Suzanne Legge Orr:

I am a very happy person. Happily married to a wonderful man, whom I share my life with for the last over 40 years. I have three wonderful children whom we are extremely proud of. And my dear mother is living in the city, so is my sister, and I have tons of cousins. I'm surrounded by family in Montreal and elsewhere across Canada and around the world. What can I say? I've loved living in the city. We lived in Toronto for many years and lived in Montreal. I feel like a citizen of both cities and love to travel. I've traveled the world on different occasions, some with a Red Cross and with a very dear friend and with my family. So I am feeling extremely blessed and very happy. And that's how I how I think of myself today.

Tarah Schwartz:

That's wonderful. And you mentioned that you traveled the world; some with the Red Cross. So I've know you've contributed to many philanthropic causes over the years. Why did you decide to get involved with the MUHC in the Dream Big campaign?

Suzanne Legge Orr:

Well, I have been involved in a number of different organizations who are very dear to my heart. Being aligned with a hospital was never something I did; except years and years ago, a friend of mine cofounded an organization called Therapeutic Clowns Canada, I joined the board and we put therapeutic clowns into children's hospitals across Canada, which was incredible. I got so much back from that. And I think from that was born an interest in hospital work. I don't speak sort of medical speak, if you will, but I know that the work that the MUHC is doing is incredible. It's really the research part. I know capital campaigns are based on brick and mortar, like we have to get there. But now we've turned this corner and we're into the research. When you listen to the doctors and the researchers talk about what they are doing around the world, and Canada and certainly in Montreal and the MUHC being a leader in Canada. It's just it's exciting. And it just really got me excited. What can I say?

Tarah Schwartz:

No, I agree. It is exciting. It is exciting to hear the doctors and the researchers talking. I've actually seen you giving tours to companies and people that you've gotten excited about the MUHC Foundation and the money that's going to research. I've seen you do part of those tours to help show them in a sense, what their money will do and what it will accomplish. What are those experiences like for you where you're bringing people on tours that you've introduced to this new passion that you have found?

Suzanne Legge Orr:

First it's become so dear to my heart and I get so excited about it. When you see the eyes starting to sparkle about the impact that a company can do. For example, we bring in a major corporation and they're making a donation. We can tell them that it is exponentially going to make a huge impact on Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and indeed throughout the world. When they know their dollars are going to be put in a spot where it's exponentially made an impact and they get excited. They want to know more. I'm not the leader but we always are with doctors and you, Tarah, those who have the hard facts, the answers and the scientific knowledge. I find that very exciting to be able to bring them in, impart my excitement and then watch them feel that same excitement of how we're going forward with a lot of these projects that we're doing.

Tarah Schwartz:

Well, as someone who watches it, I can definitely attest, I feel your excitement. And I know that you do too. We are speaking with Suzanne Legge Orr, and we're talking about philanthropy and her role as a co-chair of the MUHC Foundation's Dream Big campaign. So Suzanne, the Foundation has now more than halfway towards meeting our goal of raising $200 million, so about $106 million now. What does it mean to you to have passed this milestone as someone who is there from the start, and now we're pushing through the halfway mark?

Suzanne Legge Orr:

It's obviously incredibly exciting. As you know, we all know, the first two years, we launched in 2019. And the first two years were incredibly difficult because most people be they individuals or corporations had to really focus on the immediate, which was dealing with their own families, their own companies, and how they were going to readjust to what became our new life for two years. And so putting their focus on other things, like getting involved or learning about the MUHC, or other organizations, became a little bit of a backburner. It was difficult, but they're all here excited again, which is wonderful. I think one of the really exciting things about this campaign so far; as I spoke about individuals and corporations and giving tours with their charitable donation team and the CEOs. It is really the individuals who have been affected by the MUHC one way or another or just part of our community. When they give their individual donations for something that they deeply care about; it makes the corporation's feel excited that the community is giving back at whatever level they can. And to me, that's been one of the most exciting things. You don't get to over $100 million with just corporations. That's the community coming forward and realizing how important this research in this hospital is to their lives and the lives of so many people.

Tarah Schwartz:

I so agree with you about that, Suzanne, and I'm so glad that you brought that up. It is something to give a million dollars. But I've heard doctors and researchers say it as well, that if one company gives a million, that's great, but if 1000 individuals give $20, it amounts to a wonderful amount. It shows them that the community is really behind them. So every single small donation shows them that the work that they're doing, and the care that they're giving is really worth it. And I love that so I'm so glad that you brought that up your children do you pass on your philanthropic ways to your children? How do parents do that? Is it as simple as leading by example?

Suzanne Legge Orr:

For my husband, Jeff, and I would say yes. I don't think we sit around and lecture our children on how much to give. They see our excitement and it is part of our life. It's just part of how we live our lives and talk around the dinner tables. And absolutely, they care about the world themselves and I know that they're all active. But it's by action as you say.

Tarah Schwartz:

That's nice. And $2 million of that $106 million was raised very recently during our MUHC Foundation's Le Bal Rouge gala which I know that you are at; as you mentioned your wonderful husband, Jeff. Such a beautiful couple in every way possible- heart and soul. And what was the gala like just as we as we close off our interview. Tell us a little bit about what that evening was like for you?

Suzanne Legge Orr:

It was really fun. I will say that when the Foundation decided to go ahead with us. I think it was back in the fall, I was worried that we were moving in a direction... that are we going to be ready? I think that mindset set in for so many people, at what point are we really going to get away from this? And as it approached, I think it was one of the first time so many people came, and enjoyed the music, and being together, dancing and maskless. Yes, those people who are vulnerable still have to be careful for sure. But for those who attended, it was just a really exciting celebration of Dr. Don Sheppard, who was the previous head of MI4 and one of the pillars of the campaign. It was just a fantastic way to be together and celebrate and kick up your heels a bit. It was a great evening.

Tarah Schwartz:

It was indeed, Suzanne Legge Orr. I want to thank you so much for all that you do for the Foundation. I know that we are all very grateful that you are our Dream Big campaign co-chair for all that you do. Thank you so much.

Suzanne Legge Orr:

Thank you, Tarah. Have a have a have a good day.

Tarah Schwartz:

You too. Bye Suzie. Next up on Health Matters, his father's difficult journey inspired him and his family to fundraise in support of cancer doctors at the MUHC. I'm Tarah Schwartz Welcome back to Health Matters on CJAD 800. When your loved one is ill, you do everything in your power to help them. From supporting them through surgical procedures or treatments or driving them to appointments, there are so many ways to help someone who is on a health care journey. The Goren family knows firsthand how difficult that can be. Morty Goren was visiting Delaware when he started to feel ill. What happened next was long and arduous for him and his family. But it has a happy ending. Mark Goren, Morty's son, joins us now to tell us more about the story and why they decided to get even more involved. Thanks so much for coming on the show, Mark.

Mark Goren:

My pleasure. Thanks for having us.

Tarah Schwartz:

Your father, Morty- he began to feel unwell on a trip to Delaware before coming home to be treated at the MUHC. Take us back to what happened.

Mark Goren:

It all seemed like such a whirlwind. So many years ago, eight years ago. We had taken to a clinic here in the West Island and doctors there saw things that they didn't like, so they sent us to the hospital. And it was actually pretty quick. He was diagnosed quickly. He was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer at that time.

Tarah Schwartz:

Oh, my goodness. And what did the doctor say about his diagnosis?

Mark Goren:

There was a concern that until we saw Dr. Zogopoulos, at the MUHC. He said that our father was a good candidate for whipple surgery, which is a very extensive, difficult surgery to go through. At the end of the day, when they opened up my father to go through with the surgery, they determined that the cancer had spread. They had to close them up and suspend that surgery and move to Plan B.

Tarah Schwartz:

What was plan B?

Mark Goren:

Chemotherapy. Heal up from the incision, and what they had done. Obviously wasn't the same level of recuperation that the full surgery would have been, which would have been quite difficult for my father. But at the end of the day, he was able to heal up and get into chemotherapy pretty quickly.

Tarah Schwartz:

And what were some of the biggest concerns for someone who doesn't know pancreatic cancer? What doctors tell you about lifespan and what the survival rates are? Tell us a little bit about what your big biggest concerns were; what your family's concerns were and how you were dealing with that?

Mark Goren:

I'll never forget it. First of all, I went to the pre-op meeting with Dr. Zogopoulos and my parents. And one of the questions I had for Dr. Zogopoulos was essentially, this was going to be an hours and hours long surgery. I'd asked him at what point during the surgery, do we know that we're safe? That there hasn't been spread that you're moving forward with the surgery? And he said, if you don't see me by noon, we're good.

Tarah Schwartz:

Oh, my goodness.

Mark Goren:

Then we were sitting in the family room and he came in and he explained to us. It was almost exactly noon when he came in.

Tarah Schwartz:

I was about to say... oh my goodness, what time did he come in?

Mark Goren:

Exactly. And I remember sitting- facing the door of that room- and locking eyes with Dr. Zogopoulos. I don't know if he'll remember this. But I knew in that moment that he remembered the conversation we had in his office. So he came and he explained everything to us. And then we saw my father in the recovery area. To answer your question, when he came up to speak to us to speak to the family. He basically said, get everything in order. You know, this is not the best of situation.

Tarah Schwartz:

Oh my goodness. So what happened then, Mark? Your father started chemo?

Mark Goren:

Yes, we were all scared out of our mind. But thank God, he was transferred over to the care of Dr. Bouganim. And Dr. Bouganim who specializes in, I believe, breast cancer care, took on my father's case. He was the perfect doctor in the perfect moment for my dad. He jumped in, and he tried many different things to find the right combination of therapies and treatments, to get him back to where it should be.

Tarah Schwartz:

We are speaking with Mark Goren, and we're talking about a health care scare that his father had and how the family dealt with it and what they've learned. So you mentioned Mark, that you he got your father back to where he should be. So what does that mean, in terms of his medical status right now? Is he healed?

Mark Goren:

Well, he's in full remission now.

Tarah Schwartz:

Full remission. Incredible.

Mark Goren:

It's really a miracle is what it is, Tarah. When he was diagnosed, we were told stage four... advanced stage four. That survival rates for pancreatic cancer are limited. Five-year survival rate is like a 5% chance, if I remember correctly. So we weren't expecting the best. Dr. Bouganim took in my father's case. He found a combination of chemotherapy treatments that worked, it took a bit of time to dial it in. But once he found it, it started to prove effective, and we were blown away by this.

Tarah Schwartz:

The incredible value of research. I know you call it a miracle, Mark. I believe you when you say that, but I am such a passionate believer in the power of research and that doctors had it their disposal strong medications that worked to save your father. It's incredible. How is your father doing now?

Mark Goren:

He's doing great. He's doing great. Now. He's had other challenges. He happens to be a diabetic, he had some heart issues. He was treated also at the MUHC. He had stents put in. But overall, the fact that he's here coming to our milestone events, and all that sort of thing. We couldn't be more pleased.

Tarah Schwartz:

Yeah, that's wonderful. I'm so happy. I love to hear happy endings like this. It's wonderful that you still have your father and he sounds like a lovely person who is very family-oriented. Tell me about the decision made by you and your family to take this experience and start to give back?

Mark Goren:

Well, it, it really just was sort of by chance. I'm a golfer, and I met your colleague Miguel on the golf course. We started to talk about what he does. The story came out of just a natural conversation. And, he asked us if we were interested in sharing that story. We are strong believers in the care that we get from the hospital and the importance it plays in the city. And, we were very pleased to be able to jump in and do this fundraising campaign.

Tarah Schwartz:

We're speaking with Mark Goren, we're talking about the health scare that his father had, how the family is dealing with it and how they've decided to turn this into a fundraiser. So tell us about your fundraiser, Mark.

Mark Goren:

We're a big family. My parents have four children. We're all married. We all have kids, there's 19 of us in total.

Tarah Schwartz:

Wow!

Mark Goren:

Without the benefits of the services we receive and health care we receive, we would have lost my father- plain and simple. So, we all feel a strong desire to help give back to the hospital that gave so much to us. We've set a modest goal of $10,000. I believe that we can beat it and do better than that. But I think we'll start small and see how it builds. And, we all are pretty well-connected, and I think we can bring decent exposure and reach to this fundraising effort.

Tarah Schwartz:

I don't think it's a modest goal, Mark, I think it's an amazing goal. And I think you and your family should be so proud that you've been taking this on. It's wonderful. Tell us where the money is going to be going. What are you raising money for?

Mark Goren:

Well, it's simply to support the research that Dr. Bouganim and Dr. Zogopoulos for cancer research; pancreatic cancer, specifically.

Tarah Schwartz:

How has this experience changed... or has it changed you and or your family, Mark?

Mark Goren:

I think we're just overall a little bit more grateful, a little bit more appreciative. Over the last couple of years, we've all had the challenge of dealing with the pandemic. But you can look at that in many different ways. We're just happy to have gone through it all together, in a sense. I don't know what else to say about that. I just think we have a different outlook a little bit.

Tarah Schwartz:

Did you learn anything about yourself in particular, Mark?

Mark Goren:

I think that I've come through this; my wife and I, as appreciating and living in the moment a little bit more. I would hope that my brothers and sisters feel the same way. But yeah, I think this experience with my father coming through the pandemic, has just taught us to appreciate what we have and to make the most of things while we can.

Tarah Schwartz:

I think that's beautiful. And I think it's a wonderful note to end on. So if you would like to learn more about Mark's story, his father, Morty's story, you can just head to the MUHC Foundation dot com website, and it'll be there. If you'd like to contribute to his fundraising goal, then you're more than welcome to do that. I'm sure him and his family would be very grateful. I am grateful that you came on the show to tell your story. Mark, thank you so much for being with us today.

Mark Goren:

Thank you so much for the support that we're getting on this campaign.

Tarah Schwartz:

We are happy to do it, Mark Goren. Next up on Health Matters, some of the world's best infectious disease specialists are working together to find solutions to deadly infections. We speak with the new director of MI4 next. I'm Tarah Schwartz, and this is Health Matters. While the average person would have never predicted a global pandemic, there are several infectious disease experts who warned that something like this could happen. My next guest is one of those experts. He and his colleagues, Dr. Donald Sheppard and Dr. Marie Hudson, thought that Montreal should be ready for a pandemic. Together, they begin MI4 the McGill Interdisciplinary Initiative in Infection and Immunity. Dr. Don Shepherd, the founding director, recently took on a job with the federal government to help prepare Canada for future pandemics if they happen. Dr. Marcel Behr has been appointed the new director of MI4 and he joins us now. Thanks for being here. Dr. Behr.

Dr. Marcel Behr:

Thank you, Tarah.

Tarah Schwartz:

First of all, congratulations on this new role as director of MI4. Why don't you briefly tell our listeners what MI4 is?

Dr. Marcel Behr:

Well, briefly, mi four is short form for a long name. The name is the McGill Interdisciplinary Initiative in Infection and Immunity. Hence, MI4. It sounds much cooler and much more James Bond. And it's a way to bring together the people in the McGill ecosystem who do infection and immunity research, who were at different hospitals or on campus or different campuses, who didn't know each other, and had minimal opportunities to interact. So it's a grouping of a fantastic collection of scientists.

Tarah Schwartz:

You are now the new director of this grouping of a fantastic collection of scientists. What does it mean to you to take on this role?

Dr. Marcel Behr:

It's exciting and it's daunting. It's very exciting to have an opportunity to have a leadership role. And it means I get to interact with some of the best and brightest minds who have the greatest ideas and new techniques. So I learn a lot every day. And it's daunting, because I'm taking over from Don Sheppard. He's done such an amazing job of bringing us to where we are that you'll always worry that you can't live up to expectations.

Tarah Schwartz:

I can see your point there. But Dr. Behr, I have no doubt that you will bring your own marvelous accomplishments to this role. Tell us what you hope to accomplish during your time there. What do you see the next couple of years looking like underneath your leadership?

Dr. Marcel Behr:

The first thing we have to do is realize we haven't left COVID behind and now we have a monkey pox epidemic. So we have to remind people that as much as we want epidemics to be in the rearview mirror, they are not in the rearview mirror. There may be another one in the future and we have to be better prepared. We have to learn some lessons from this and be ready. The next thing we need to do is ask what are the really exciting developments from the past five years what worked best, what worked least, and build on their strengths. You have to constantly revisit your hypotheses and you have to reevaluate your programs. That's what we're doing now that we build what we're colloquially calling version two, and build on our strengths.

Tarah Schwartz:

We're talking with Dr. Marcel Behr, new director of MI4. We're talking about infectious diseases and how researchers are working to ensure we are prepared for whatever the future brings. I wonder, Dr. Behr, do you see things differently now than you did before the pandemic? Did it change anything? How you work? Concerns you have?

Dr. Marcel Behr:

I would say the way I work as a doctor, my habits in the hospital, my habits in the clinics haven't really changed that much. Infectious disease doctors are always the ones who wash their hands before and after every patient. And we always assume that anything could be contagious. So in some ways, our mindset that we had for 20 years or so in our careers was such validated that something new could come along, and you could never know who would bring it in. On the other hand, have I changed how I think about my job? I feel incredibly privileged to have worked through a pandemic. When a lot of people lost their jobs, their hotel was empty, their restaurant was closed, their airlines were not being used. I felt very fortunate to be employed, to be useful and to be learning something every day. And so I think it's really a privilege to be an infectious disease doctor at this time.

Tarah Schwartz:

I really love that. I love the perspective that you put that in. And it's interesting, because I think most people had never heard of or would never have thought of an infectious disease specialist. And yet, over the last two and a half years, we've been watching them on our televisions- infectious disease specialist and hearing them on the radio and reading them in newspapers. How has it been in terms of being one of those people; being an infectious disease specialist. What has it been like working during a pandemic, as the expert of what the pandemic has been all about?

Dr. Marcel Behr:

Well, I've been incredibly fortunate because I work in a division at the MUHC that has 20 infectious disease experts, and all of them actually have their own expertise. So just as you say, some people didn't know there was a specialty called infectious diseases. We have somebody who's a specialist in infection control and prevention. We have somebody who has led making the treatment guidelines. We have people doing clinical trials, we have people developing tests in the microbiology lab. So how's it felt? It's felt wonderful to be surrounded by so much expertise, and to be able to distribute the many tasks to people who could face up to each task and continue to deliver it the past two and a half years.

Tarah Schwartz:

Tell us about the hot zone. Dr. Behr, because this was something really interesting that was happening at the beginning of the pandemic. Share with our listeners, what that's about and what your role was in that.

Dr. Marcel Behr:

I'm the Director of the Tuberculosis lab. And because tuberculosis is an aerosol pathogen- it spread in the air. This is a room or suite of rooms that has very careful engineering controls, and very careful personal controls to make sure that the air always goes in and never goes out. To make sure that if you drop things, you already have protocols in place for how you pick them up and how you clean the spills. So it's an incredibly clean space and it's a space where you can do incredibly focused work, because you don't check your cell phone, you're not texting, you're not watching TikTok. The only thing you can do when you're in a hot zone is work on the pathogen. The pathogen being the bacteria that causes disease and work in a focused manner. We were fortunate that this tuberculosis lab was licensed very early in March 2020 to work for SARS-CoV-2. That allowed us to increase our capacity to help scientists around McGill who were trying to develop tests, they're trying to test drugs, or trying to evaluate vaccines. So now we have in our lab that capacity work on tuberculosis and on SARS-CoV-2.

Tarah Schwartz:

Which is extremely exciting. We are talking with Dr. Marcel Behr, new director of MI4; we're talking about infectious diseases, his role and what his plans are for the future. You have your own lab at the RI-MUHC, you've mentioned director, what are some of the exciting research projects? You mentioned that there are so many. Can you narrow down one and tell us a little bit about one of them that excites you?

Dr. Marcel Behr:

How much time do you have?

Tarah Schwartz:

I've got about a minute.

Dr. Marcel Behr:

I have too many for one minute. But one thing we've worked on is just like humans have tuberculosis. We know for a long time that cows have tuberculosis. But our lab recently showed that there's a completely different strain in South Asia, then in the cows of Europe and North America. We've been working on understanding these bacteria. We've developed infection models. And we're learning all kinds of new biology just by starting with this kind of natural experiment that different cows in different parts of the world have completely different bacteria.

Tarah Schwartz:

And I would be remiss to let you go Dr. Behr without talking about the situation as it stands right now in Quebec, in Canada, in the world. monkey pox, obviously sort of weighing a little bit on everyone's shoulders. Not in the same way that that COVID was but where do things stand right now in your mind? What do we need to be careful of and what does the next several months look like?

Dr. Marcel Behr:

For SARS-CoV-2, I expected we will continue to have transmission of the virus and the development of new variants. Whether the variant changes the vaccine, working or not whether the variant changes the test working or not, that will continue to be monitored by government agencies and by companies. What's actionable to you and me, Tarah, is we need to make sure if we're vaccinated, we follow the guidelines. And if we're eligible for fourth dose that we get a fourth dose. And if we need to get a new dose in November, because the strain has changed, we need to follow those guidelines. Because that has been the single most dramatic change between what COVID was like in the spring of 2020 and what COVID has been like in the spring of 2022.

Tarah Schwartz:

And for monkey pox, where do we stand with that?

Dr. Marcel Behr:

For monkey pox, it's too early for me to predict the future. It's ongoing. It's fascinating. Again, I'm learning something new every day. But I'm in no position to know what's going to be happening in July, August or September of 2022. We've created a research team at McGill infectious diseases led by my colleague, Dr. Marina Klein, so that we can be ahead of the situation. We can be asking the questions and getting the answers in the coming weeks to month.

Tarah Schwartz:

That is very comforting to know that. Dr. Marcel Behr, thank you for joining us on Health Matters. Congratulations on your new appointment as director of MI4.

Dr. Marcel Behr:

Thank you again, Tarah. Have a good day.

Tarah Schwartz:

You as well. Coming up on Health Matters, the MUHC Foundation has so many wonderful stories from our community. We discuss some of them next with a special guest whose voice may sound very familiar. I'm Tarah Schwartz, you're listening to Health Matters. There are numerous incredible stories that come from our community, from inspiring patient stories incredible research and innovation being conducted right here in Montreal, to speaking with the remarkable doctors, researchers, and clinician-scientists who work at the MUHC and the Research Institute of the MUHC. We really love to share these stories with you in many different ways. Now, as I mentioned, you may recognize the voice of my next guest, Kelly Albert is a friend of CJAD 800, she was the host of Montreal Eats, she still talks about amazing recipes with Andrew and Aaron and Natasha. But she's also something else. She is the Senior Communications Officer at the MUHC Foundation and she joins me now. Hi, Kelly.

Kelly Albert:

Hi, Tarah.

Tarah Schwartz:

So let's tell people what you do for the MUHC Foundation. Let's start there.

Kelly Albert:

Oh, my goodness. Well, I do quite a bit actually.

Tarah Schwartz:

Yeah, what don't you do? Maybe I should have said that. (laughs).

Kelly Albert:

I like to keep busy. So I manage the social media accounts for the MUHC Foundation. I produce Health Matters and work really closely with the guests that come on Health Matters to make sure that they can talk about the amazing work that they do and the amazing fundraising efforts that they do. I write for our website, I take pictures, I support our videographer. Oh my goodness, there's so many more little things that I take on too.

Tarah Schwartz:

I know. I say to Kelly often, what would I do without Kelly? What would I do without Kelly?

Kelly Albert:

I feel the same way about you.

Tarah Schwartz:

Yay. I think it's worth noting that so when I'm on vacation, or unable to do the show that Kelly will now be stepping in. So this is a wonderful thing. So she will be hosting Health Matters when I'm unable to do it, which is very exciting for us both. Now, what are some of your favorite stories? Because I mean, you and I love the patient stories. We love learning about these doctors and researchers and what they're doing. I can't even think of how many stories have been on Health Matters since the show began a year and a half ago. But do you have some favorites?

Kelly Albert:

We have easily, I would say hundreds of stories on Health Matters

Tarah Schwartz:

Hundreds, right?

Kelly Albert:

Very easily. But I think it's just so special to get to know the doctors and researchers that work behind the scenes. A lot of them get to talk directly with patients but we get a whole different side of them. One of the ones that really sticks out to me recently as we had Dr. Ali Bessissow on the show. He told this incredible story of a woman who just wanted to eat pasta. She missed eating pasta and she was not able to eat because of her condition. He performed a surgery on her that allowed her to eat pasta. And I just got chills hearing him talk about walking into her room and seeing that her husband had brought her pasta to eat from home so that she could experience that and have that that's special moment again. There's so many wonderful things like that, that just really resonate with me. And gosh, incredible stories of families who have had wonderful, exceptional compassionate care at the MUHC and have dedicated themselves to giving back. To coming and talking with us at the MUHC Foundation, talking about their story. And just making sure that no other families have difficult experiences the way that they did.

Tarah Schwartz:

There are two things I want to say about what you just said. One, if anybody knows Kelly Albert, I am not surprised that it was the pasta story that got to you. Because Kelly's the ultimate foodie, we're always trying to get restaurant recommendations. So the pasta story doesn't surprise me at all that that one like touch to your heart. And the second one is you just mentioned how like families have this amazing care. And I know that it was you who booked Mark Goren, who is the guests that we just spoke to, whose father recovered from pancreatic cancer, and now he's raising $10,000, for the MUHC Foundation. So this is the kind of story that you're talking about.

Kelly Albert:

Absolutely. And the Goren family, they're such an incredible family, they're so devoted to each other and to supporting each other. And just, it's so heartbreaking to hear how many hardships they had. But it's so remarkable for them to have this wonderful outcome, have a positive experience and say, you know what, let's make sure that no other family has this horrible experience. Let's help fund pancreatic cancer research and make a difference.

Tarah Schwartz:

So one of the things that Kelly will do is to make sure that that fundraising page, so if you go to me, MUHC foundation.com, and you want to learn more about Mark Goren story that we talked about earlier on the show, want to contribute to their fundraising efforts, you can do that. Now, Kelly, as she mentioned, she also manages all of our social media accounts. And we have really beautiful social media accounts- talking about the patient stories that we've been telling you about introducing you to doctors, researchers, the work that they're doing. So Kelly, tell our listeners why they should be following us on social media and following the work that you're doing.

Kelly Albert:

There's so many fun things that we get to do on social media. It really is wonderful, because we can show you pictures of the people who are making a difference. You can see them. We make videos as well. You can go behind the scenes into the lab. One of the fun videos that we have on our YouTube page right now shows you like the creepy crawlies. (laughs) I'll be very discreet with my language. But there's a lot of really remarkable things that you get to see. And you do not have access to these research labs. And, seeing the 3D printers and seeing into the microscopes and seeing all the remarkable work that they're doing to make a difference. That's really fun. We get to show that on social media, you get to see the people who make donation pages, the companies or the people that make big donations to support our hospital. And yeah, I get to be a little bit goofy every once in a while and share pictures of us on our yoga day, that was really fun. So you get to see the Foundation team too.

Tarah Schwartz:

I love that it's true. It's such a wonderful platform. So whatever platform you'd like to be on, we're on all of them. So we're on LinkedIn, and Twitter and Facebook and Instagram. So whatever platform you like, Kelly, tell them about our handles. How can people find us on social media?

Kelly Albert:

@MUHCFoundation is the easiest way to find so you can pop that into whatever search function comes up. Or if you go to our website, I MUHC Foundation dot com- right at the bottom, we have all of the icons of the different social media accounts. So if there's one that you prefer, and you want to find this very directly, our website can direct you to each one of those pages.

Tarah Schwartz:

We are speaking with Kelly Albert, Senior Communications Officer at the MUHC Foundation, a wonderful person who showers us with food recipes and food advice and also does incredible work helping patients tell their stories. Describe some of the best parts Kelly of the MUHC Foundation that people may not know about.

Kelly Albert:

Just how much of an impact we make.

Tarah Schwartz:

I love that.

Kelly Albert:

I think I didn't really consider before joining the Foundation, I knew that the Foundation made a difference, but I didn't know how great the impact was. So to be able to see firsthand the incredible things; the projects that we funded, the incredible research that is happening right here in Montreal. Vaccines being developed here in Montreal to solve really important parasitic infections that dominate the world. That was discovered right here in Montreal by Dr. Momar Ndao. Developments for cancer, for personalized care and just meeting the people who are so passionate about making a difference and solving those health problems, I think is really, really special.

Tarah Schwartz:

It is and I think it's important to keep in mind that if you're part of our community, if you're signed up for our newsletter, if you've donated $20 to the MUHC Foundation, those successes are your successes as well that impact is your impact as well. And that's what's so beautiful about having a philanthropic community. Kelly, I want to thank you so much for taking the time to come on the show with us today.

Kelly Albert:

My pleasure.

Tarah Schwartz:

And no doubt we'll be talking to you again soon. Kelly Albert, Senior Communications Officer at the MUHC Foundation. I'm Tarah Schwartz. Thank you for tuning in. What would you like to hear about on the show? Write to us at health matters at MUHC Foundation dot com. As mentioned, you can also follow our social media accounts or sign up for our newsletter. I do hope you'll join me again next Sunday. Thank you so much for listening to Health Matters and stay healthy.