The MUHC Foundation's Health Matters

Lifesaving and life changing innovation and care

July 03, 2022 The McGill University Health Centre Foundation Season 2 Episode 39
The MUHC Foundation's Health Matters
Lifesaving and life changing innovation and care
Show Notes Transcript

This week on Health Matters, guest host Kelly Albert speaks with Dr. Brett Thombs about World Scleroderma Day and how this debilitating condition impacts people who live with it. Dr. Steven Paraskevas discusses the innovative islet transplant surgery that allows some type one diabetes patients no longer need insulin injections. Dr. Ingrid Kovitch shares what it is like to be in the care of the devoted staff in the MUHC’s Intensive Care Unit. And, the Pink Charity Softball Tournament fundraising for a special cause. 

Cette semaine à Question de santé, notre animatrice invitée Kelly Albert s’entretient avec le Dr Brett Thombs sur la Journée mondiale de la sclérodermie et l’impact de cette maladie débilitante sur les personnes qui en sont atteintes. Le Dr Steven Paraskevas nous parlera aussi des chirurgies novatrices de transplantation d’îlots de Langerhans, qui permettent à certains patients diabétiques de type 1 de ne plus avoir besoin d’injections d’insuline. La Dre Ingrid Kovitch nous racontera également ce que c’est que d’être soigné par le personnel dévoué de l’Unité des soins intensifs du CUSM. Pour conclure, nous discuterons du Tournoi de balle molle caritatif Pink, une collecte de fonds pour une cause bien spéciale.

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Kelly Albert:

Hello there. Thank you for joining us. Tarah is off this week. I am Kelly Albert, Senior Communications Officer with the MUHC Foundation. And this is Health Matters on CJAD 800. On today's show an innovative surgery that can help cure Type One diabetes in some patients, we speak with the surgeon who performs this innovative transplant surgery at the MUHC and he shares why it's an important step in the treatment of Type One diabetes patients. To begin today, this past week marked World Scleroderma Day a time to bring awareness to this sometimes debilitating and sometimes life-threatening condition. Dr. Brett Thombs is a Tier One Canada Research Chair, a Senior Investigator at the Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research at the Jewish General Hospital and a professor in the Department of Psychiatry at McGill University. Thank you for joining us, Dr. Thombs.

Dr. Brett Thombs:

Thanks for that. Thanks for having me, Kelly.

Kelly Albert:

So in laymen terms, can you explain what scleroderma is?

Dr. Brett Thombs:

Sure, squared and was a rare, progressive meaning it builds up in severity and chronic autoimmune connective tissue disorder. The word predominantly means hard skin in Greek, which comes from the word sclerosis meaning hardness and derma meaning skin. And it's this thickening of the skin that's most characteristic of scleroderma. Now why is this occurred? Again, it's autoimmune, so the body turns in on itself. All of us have collagen. Collagen is a protein that use our bodies used to form connective tissues, helps keep tissues soft, is a major component of bone and skin muscles, tendons, cartilage. Ironically in scleroderma, when the immune system turns on itself and produces too much collagen, it results in the opposite, which is kind of hardening of the skin, as well as many other symptoms. So it can affect the internal organs and results severe kidney, lung, digestive and heart problems. Most people with scleroderma have a range of symptoms that can be gastrointestinal and bowel dysfunction. They have pain from a variety of sources. They lose mobility and function. And their appearance changes in many ways. That puts them in a position where they walk into a room and no one's quite sure what to do with this person that looks different and they have to deal with all sorts of unwanted attention on a day to day basis.

Kelly Albert:

That's really challenging. It must be very difficult for people who live with scleroderma because there is that sort of physical appearance change. And I'm sure it causes a lot of anxiety with that.

Dr. Brett Thombs:

Yes, it's something that some people are able to manage pretty well. But other people really struggle with that.

Kelly Albert:

We're in conversation with Dr. Brett Thombs, who is a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at McGill University. Now you are also the director of SPIN, which is the Scleroderma Patient Centered Intervention Network which has been around for about 10 years. Can you tell us what this network is?

Dr. Brett Thombs:

When I started in scleroderma, like you said 10 or 12 years ago. There wasn't much done about what people experienced on a day to day basis when they live with this terrible disease. We began to document these problems and report how much they were dealing with, and we're sitting down and actually sitting with Maureen Salve who has scleroderma and a tremendous activist and advocate. And we said we keep documenting all these problems, what are we going to do about this? So she and I were some others we invited a kind of who's who in scleroderma from around the world. They came to Montreal, we met and we began to put together a program to try to partner with people with scleroderma, and people who provide them with health care and researchers like myself to better understand what are the problems are facing, what's the nature of those problems, and what we can do about it. So we have what's called a cohort, we follow about 1500 people with scleroderma, which is a lot for rare diseases, that are recruited from 50 centers in seven countries. We get input from people with the disease on what we should be researching. They provide us patient reported outcomes and information. Then we work together with them to build programs and interventions to try to support them. So we've done programs like a hand exercise program to reduce the disability in the hands, which is a big deal. If you're trying to go to on a day to day basis without your hands working very well. We've done what's called a self-management program, which has tips and tricks to address a number of symptoms that might come up with living with the disease and how to work better with their health care providers to cope. We've trained support group leaders. In COVID-19, we did a mental health trial, meaning we tested whether we could have a patient-led intervention along with some professional mental health people that would addressing the anxiety that people were feeling at the beginning of COVID. At the beginning of a COVID, this group of patients really was anxious because they're often older and many times frail anyway, and about 40% had really bad lung disease. So they were they were really at risk. So we put together a program and tested it. And just some examples of some of the kinds of things we do

Kelly Albert:

Absolutely. And the MUHC Foundation through MI4 the McGill Interdisciplinary Initiative in Infection and Immunity actually funded part of the study. I really appreciated that because when speaking about anxiety, especially with the COVID pandemic When you had an autoimmune disorder, there was so much misinformation in the early days and so much information coming out that it must have been a really anxious time. So what did you hear from the patients that were part of this group?

Dr. Brett Thombs:

The way we worked when we started doing this, we pulled together a group of patients to meet with our researchers on the first day. And we started talking about what we could do to support mental health and what we should be addressing. They told us right away, don't worry about depression We're used to being isolated, we have a bad disease anyway. But everyone's anxious. In addition to running our intervention program, we actually tracked every two weeks initially, and then every month, we've been tracking mental health in this group, since the beginning of the pandemic. They were dead-on depression didn't move at all and anxiety went through the roof, which they knew ahead of time. They told us right off the bat that was going to happen, and it which really underlines why it's so important to work closely with patients, which is what we do. They know their disease, and they know what they are experiencing. You mentioned that we were funded by the MI4 COVID-19 Emergency Research Fund and the MUHC Foundation. That was a tremendous boost. We're a rare disease group but in a matter of three weeks, we were able to launch this idea, get initial funding from MI4 which we later supplemented from CIHR. Get ethics approval and actually launch a trial that enrolled almost 200 people and was very successful. We were one of only three or four, high quality mental health trials that were done at the beginning of the pandemic anywhere in the world, in any group of people. And we couldn't have done it without MI4. It moves extremely fast, and put enough funds on the table to get people like us started and that was a big boost to what we were trying to do.

Kelly Albert:

In conversation with Dr. Brett Thombs, a Tier One Canada Research Chair, a Senior Investigator at the Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research at the Jewish General Hospital, and a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at McGill University. I think that's so important, what you mentioned about it being a rare disease. From the researchers that we speak to, through Health Matters; on the show, rare diseases sometimes have a little bit more difficulty getting the attention that a big more common disease would get. So what message would you have for our listeners about rare diseases and the research that goes into it?

Dr. Brett Thombs:

I think Hillary Clinton said way back, it takes a village. And I think that's the case in all research. But it's even more so in rare diseases. That's one thing, we thought from the beginning that we couldn't do this alone, we couldn't do this even in Canada. As I mentioned earlier, we have seven countries involved; recruiting patients, we have probably people from 10 or 12 countries involved in some way. And that's the way the way of rare disease research, you've got to put your resources together, put your minds together. And another aspect of it too is at the patient organizations are tremendously important in working with researchers and linking researchers and people with diseases to do that. We're lucky to here in Canada, we've got really great partners with SPIN; Scleroderma Canada is a fantastic partner with us and Scleroderma Quebec, is a really great organization that helps people with the disease, and it works with groups like ours all the time.

Kelly Albert:

That's really remarkable. I'm glad that there's a group that are working together. I think that's something that we've seen a lot through the COVID 19 pandemic, that ease of working around the world to come together to have this goal in mind and this cause that they're working for. So we talk a lot about big dreams on the show. Do you have a big dream? What is your big dream for your career?

Dr. Brett Thombs:

I think it is that we'll be able to transform how we do research. Traditionally research has been done by researchers and we sometimes reach out to patients or sometimes reach out to people who provide health care. What we've done in SPIN over the years, on an ad hoc basis in some ways, is we've become really close partners with people with scleroderma. We never start a project without sitting down at a table with them and we work together. Recently we've begun to invest in actually partnering with our patient partners to learn how to better partner, if that makes sense. How should we be doing this? How should we be working together? And I think my dream was that as we go down the road that all research is going to begin to do that. That we were integrated, that we're partnered, that we have patients in the room, health care providers with researchers We tend to be a little too siloed now. Sometimes people are doing a good job with that, but not regularly enough. And that really leads to us doing research that maybe isn't so important to patients, and solving the problems they need to they need to be solved. So that's my big dream. I think we can all work together better and we can increase the utility and effectiveness of the work we do.

Kelly Albert:

I think that's a really great dream to have Dr. Brett Thombs. Thank you so much for joining us on Health Matters.

Dr. Brett Thombs:

Oh, thank you. It's been a real pleasure

Kelly Albert:

Dr. Brett Thombs, a professor in the Department of Psychiatry at McGill University. Next on Health Matters in innovative transplant that can help cure Type One diabetes. I'm Kelly Albert, welcome back to Health Matters on CJAD 800. Physicians and researchers are always looking for innovative ways to treat illness. My next guest recently performed an islet transplant on a patient in Quebec. This unique transplant is changing the lives of some patients with Type One diabetes. Dr. Stephen Paraskevas is a transplant surgeon at the MUHC and leads the Pancreas and Islet Cell Transplant Program. Dr. Paraskevas is actually the first surgeon to perform this procedure in Quebec. And he joins me now. Thank you so much for being here, Dr. Paraskevas.

Dr. Steven Paraskevas:

Thank you. It's my pleasure.

Kelly Albert:

So in very general terms, can you tell me what is an islet transplant?

Dr. Steven Paraskevas:

People with Type One diabetes have, as a result of their disease, lost the ability to control their blood sugars. An auto immune response has destroyed the cells in their pancreas that make insulin in response to ingested glucose. One of the ways of restoring control of their sugars is to do a transplant. For example, of the whole pancreas, which does work but it's major surgery and it has fairly significant rate of complications and the like. An islet transplant is a very minimally invasive way of restoring someone's ability to make their own insulin by taking just the cell clusters in the pancreas of a donor organ, and transplanting only the cells that make insulin. These are in these tiny clusters of cells called islets of Langerhans. And that is basically comprising of only about 1% of the volume of the whole pancreas and it's only a few ccs of tissue. That's the entirety of the cells that make insulin in response to sugar. So we take these, we take donated organ from a deceased donor, we take the pancreas and we purify the islets from the pancreas in a special procedure in a very unique facility that is made for manipulating and culturing human cells that are going to be used for clinical purposes. Then when we are sure that we have enough of these cells and that they are strong and viable and they make lots of insulin, we take them and we infuse them through procedure in radiology actually. It is just under local anesthesia, the patient is totally awake and they just have a little needle just under their ribcage, and we infuse those islets into the patient's liver. Now why the liver and not the pancreas? Because the liver has kind of a unique anatomy. It has dual circulation, and it can tolerate without damage this sort of infusion of tissue. Even though it's a tiny amount of tissue, they look like tiny grains of sand. They cannot be safely put into other organs. But the liver tolerates that very well. The islets rest there, they engraft there and they begin making their insulin and glucagon in response to changes in blood sugar. And they can completely restore normal control of sugars and render the individual free from needing to take insulin anymore.

Kelly Albert:

In conversation with Dr. Steven Paraskevas, a transplant surgeon at the MUHC. So basically, this procedure can cure Type one diabetes, is that correct?

Dr. Steven Paraskevas:

We talked about cures and treatments and I believe it would be safe to say that a cure would involve no further therapy; if the person were to be freed from taking insulin and have nothing else to take. But as a transplant that comes from another person, just like a heart or lungs or liver or kidney, we need the recipient to take anti-rejection treatments, which are necessary to prevent them from rejecting the cells. These are still quite safe to take. But as it stands, this is a very good treatment for diabetes and not yet what we would say is a cure. It's a bit of a tradeoff. For that reason, we currently offer this to people who have perhaps the most frailty or the most problematic control of their blood sugars. People who have what is called brittle diabetes, whose blood sugars can drop very dramatically, within minutes or hours, without them necessarily feeling their sugar dropping. Normally it creates symptoms. Some people with diabetes lack these symptoms, and they can blackout unexpectedly due to low blood sugar. They lose their ability to function properly, they lose their ability to drive, to work in certain capacities, and sometimes they become even housebound as a result. So currently, because of this trade off of risks and benefits, we offer islet transplantation to these most vulnerable individuals who have the most to gain. But as treatments become more and more advanced, we anticipate that will be someday able to replace cells without the need for any other medications. In that case, we really do have something that resembles a cure. And we're seeing those developments on the horizon, they still might be years away, where we're able to grow islets in a lab and tailor them to a particular individual, and implant them in a way that they are protected from the immune system. And then we're talking about very advanced and exciting therapies. Those are on the horizon and it is actually as a result of having our islet transplant program that we're able to take these next steps. I think it's so fascinating that you call them little grains of sand that can just completely change a person's life and have them create their own insulin and stabilize this. So you and your team recently performed a transplant surgery at the end of April. So can you tell me what performing that procedure is like? What is it like to do this surgery? It's very exciting for us. As you can imagine, there's a large team involved. Nurses on the transplant unit, our radiologists, Dr. Tatiana Cabrera, who actually performs the infusion, I and my lab team who have spent time performing the purification, the isolation of the islets in our cleanroom which is on the McGill campus. So there's a lot of work that's gone into it. Even the recovery team that has recovered the organs. It's very exciting to see that come to fruition with the infusion and see, particularly, the recipient so excited to have this change in their life. What's really exciting actually is when they come back a few weeks later, and they can already tell you that their sugars are stabilized and they're requiring less and less insulin. And I recently saw this person last week, and they completely stopped taking insulin after 30 years of having to manage their diabetes with insulin injections. So that's really kind of the ultimate when we see the result being so dramatic. I think it's very exciting for everyone.

Kelly Albert:

Absolutely. I just got goosebumps with you telling me that. Dr. Paraskevas thank you so much for joining us on the show and talking about these remarkable innovations.

Dr. Steven Paraskevas:

It's my pleasure.

Kelly Albert:

Dr. Steven Paraskevas is a transplant surgeon at the MUHC and leads the pancreas and islet cell transplant programs. Next on Health Matters, the outstanding lifesaving and life changing care given at the Intensive Care Unit. I'm Kelly Albert, and this is Health Matters. In mid-May the MUHC Foundation launched a campaign to support the Intensive Care Unit at the MUHC. This department is highly-specialized to care for the most vulnerable and most ill patients. It is the last resort when your life is on the line. The ICU has always been providing outstanding lifesaving care but the COVID-19 pandemic has stretched their resources thin. So far in our campaign to raise $150,000, we are at about $90,000, which is remarkable so far. But we wanted to share stories of the patients whose lives have been touched by the ICU. Here to share her story is Dr. Ingrid Kovitch who has a rare neurological disease and has spent some time in the ICU at the MUHC. Ingrid, thank you so much for being here.

Dr. Ingrid Kovitch:

That's my pleasure. Thank you for having me.

Kelly Albert:

So tell me how your health changed eight years ago with this diagnosis?

Dr. Ingrid Kovitch:

To start with, really for the bulk of my life, I was incredibly healthy. Like really extremely lucky in that respect. And I was very active. I played two varsity sports in college, I continued to play sort of high level sports beyond that and ran marathons and was really very active. And then in my mid to late 40s, I began to notice some muscle weakness. I first noticed it actually when I was playing hockey. But then it began to affect sort of my daily life. And I would lose my balance and trip and I had a couple of falls down flights of stairs. After the second fall down the flight of stairs, I went to see neurologist, and that led me to Dr. O'Farrell, who's in neuromuscular specialist at Neuro. She did a muscle biopsy, and found that I had a significant disease of my muscles.

Kelly Albert:

You're a medical doctor yourself, was it? How did being in the care of other physicians have an impact on you? Because it must be weird, having medical knowledge and also being a patient?

Dr. Ingrid Kovitch:

I think it was more weird simply because of the contrast with my general life. And my feeling that my body could do sort of anything I asked of it. So I think it was more the contrast of just having been so healthy and active. But yes, there was also the sense of being kind of on the other side of the gown, now requiring care. So it was a real adjustment on multiple levels.

Kelly Albert:

Absolutely. In conversation with Dr. Ingrid Kovitch, who has a rare neurological disease, she has spent some time at the MUHC's ICU. So tell me how does this disorder impact your everyday life, you mentioned falls down the stairs, you mentioned muscle weakness, how does that affect your day to day?

Dr. Ingrid Kovitch:

The muscle weakness, progress very quickly at first, but then luckily, has been fairly stable the last few years. So I do need leg braces and some sort of canes or poles to walk. Because it's a muscle disease, it affects muscles in all my different systems. So it affects my breathing muscles. So I do need a machine, a ventilator to help me breathe at night. I have a lot of cardiac arrhythmias; it affects the heart muscle too. But the thing that's really unusual is that it has contributed to these kind of crazy crises where I have sudden, very high rises of my blood potassium. It's these crises that have landed me repeatedly in the ICU, to help with my breathing, to help with arrhythmias, et cetera. So it's affected me really in those are the primary ways.

Kelly Albert:

And you mentioned it, you've been in the care of the ICU multiple times. Describe to me the care that you and your loved ones receive while you're in the ICU?

Dr. Ingrid Kovitch:

I've been in really the most frequently for these crises. But I've also been admitted for ramping infections. Back in November, and then again, just about a month ago, and then actually, two weeks ago, I had a cardiac arrest, and was resuscitated and was in the care of the ICU again. So I've really been in their care multiple times, and for a range of different problems. I have to say that the care, irrespective of what landed me there, has been absolutely unbelievable. Both in terms of the expertise of the staff, and also just the kindness that they've extended. Which you think that there would be no time to do because you are overwhelmed with just keeping people alive. But it's really been the kindness that has struck me the most. In addition to caring for the patients who are critically ill, you also have a responsibility to communicate with their families. And I think this is something that my husband, of course appreciates, far more than I do. But really is an impressive part of what the staff in the unit is able to do not just keep you alive, but explain what's going on to your family.

Kelly Albert:

I've had the privilege of going into the ICU at the MUHC, and seeing the staff that works there. And you said it exactly, they're super highly specialized. They have training courses to do and continuing education to do. And yet, they are so generous with their time, and you would see them speaking to family members and having conversations with them and making sure that their family members are just as stable and good as their patients are. It's really remarkable to see the staff that works there. It

Dr. Ingrid Kovitch:

It is remarkable and it's an army. I think people don't really appreciate the incredible machinery necessary to keep even a single patient alive. And by machinery, I don't just mean equipment, although there is plenty of that. But the entire personnel, the army of doctors, nurses, technicians and respiratory therapists, and orderlies and housekeeping and just everything that helps make that place run, that allows the staff to be able to take that time to support the families in addition to the patients.

Kelly Albert:

In conversation with Dr. Ingrid Kovitch who is a patient who spent some time in the MUHC's ICU. Now, I mentioned it off the top, we have a campaign going on right now to raise $150,000 for the ICU. This is to support the staff, their mental health and well-being, continuing education, give them additional equipment that they need to make sure that the ICU is the best that it can be. So why was it important for you to share your story in conjunction with this campaign? Why did you want people to know what you've lived?

Dr. Ingrid Kovitch:

First of all, I think I really feel very compelled to give back in some way, given that I have benefited from the expertise and the incredible care of this unit on so many occasions. But also, I feel that, you know, this is a unit that most people don't really think about until either they or their family find themselves needing this uber specialized care. And so I felt that it was really necessary to communicate to people that any of us can land there at any time. For sure if you have if you're a little bit older, if you have underlying medical conditions, you may be more likely. But there are myriad reasons why anyone who is even previously in perfect health might end up in this unit. I mean, COVID has been a perfect example. There are also accidents and traumas. And I think people need to be reminded of the incredible work that's being done there. Because most people thankfully aren't, don't have personal experience with the ICUs. So people do really need to appreciate and understand that this is a level of exhaustive and extensive care that is there for everyone.

Kelly Albert:

It really is. I think, it's so important to support this cause if you are inspired by Ingrid's story and would like to donate to the ICU campaign, you can go to our website, MUHC Foundation dot com. If you look at the Get Involved section on our homepage, you can find out more information about the truly incredible outstanding care that is provided in the Intensive Care Unit. Dr. Ingrid Kovitch, thank you so much for joining us on Health Matters and sharing your story.

Dr. Ingrid Kovitch:

It's been my pleasure. Thanks again for having me.

Kelly Albert:

Next on Health Matters, let's play ball. A softball tournament fundraising to support breast cancer patients. I'm Kelly Albert. This is Health Matters on CJAD 800. Do you miss watching the Expos? Well, you can get your fill with the Pink Charity Softball Tournament and support an excellent cause. This tournament has a number of women playing softball and fundraising to support the MUHC's Breast Clinic and the Breast Clinic's wellness program. The 2019 edition of this softball tournament actually raised $31,000 and I'm sure they want to beat their goal this year. Kathy Kennedy is the organizer of the Pink Charity Softball Tournament and joins me now. Thank you so much for being here, Kathy.

Kathy Kennedy:

Thank you for inviting me. It's a pleasure to be here to discuss this wonderful cause.

Kelly Albert:

What inspired you to start the softball tournament?

Kathy Kennedy:

Back in 2010, I was actually diagnosed with breast cancer myself. I am cancer free today, thanks to the wonderful work at the Breast Center at the Royal Victoria Hospital, including Dr. Meterissian's team. I went through a double mastectomy back in 2010. And with that being said, I'm a woman that has been playing softball for over 30 years around the circuit, West Island, all the different tournaments that happen, including my own league. I got together with one of my friends on the league, and I suggested, why don't we put together a softball tournament, specifically to raise money for breast cancer and research and or the MUHC Breast Clinic. Because during our summer months, when we get all the camaraderie together of all the women playing that we play with for years on end. We've lost many women over the years, and many of those women succumb to breast cancer as well as other cancers, unfortunately. We kind of thought it was a great a great way to bring the community together for superb cause, such as raising money for breast cancer, and in particular, in our case for the MUHC's Breast Clinic. This is really how the Pink came together. Myself and a number of organizers are involved in getting this up and running every year. Unfortunately, with the last two years with COVID, we've been kind of put on the back burner. But we're back in full swing, and we're really hoping to knock this one out of the park this year and beat our last level of donations. The whole MUHC Breast Clinic, for me was extremely helpful and therapeutic in my recovery. I believe that when we have these type of clinics available to us, it allows us to come together with other women who are going through the same journey. And I think it's tremendous. It's a tremendous clinic that needs to be supported. And so this is one of the reasons why we've chosen that. Over the years, we have of course helped to donate to purchase of equipment, etc. But for the last couple of years, we've been focusing mainly on the Breast Clinic, because it's not a clinic that supported in any way other than fundraisers. So we felt it was important to continue supporting them.

Kelly Albert:

Kathy Kennedy is the organizer of the Pink Charity Softball Tournament. The Pink dot ca is the website if you would like to know more. Kathy, I think you mentioned a really important part because the MUHC Foundation supports the Breast Clinic and supports the Breast Clinic Wellness Program that you're fundraising for as well. You mentioned the care that you received with Dr. Meterissian and his team there. Talk to me about that experience for those who don't know what it's like. It's so scary to get a cancer diagnosis and to go through cancer treatments, what is it like to be cancer free now and come out on the other end and want to give back this way?

Kathy Kennedy:

It's absolutely amazing. When you when you first receive that bad news, it's a shock, of course, and then you have to sort of find a way to understand it, and to live with it. I think the important thing is, is that once you do get diagnosed, and again, one of the most important things for women is you really need to be proactive, and check yourself regularly. Because early diagnosis is key here. Many lives are saved because of that. With the help of the breast clinic and all of the different therapy that they have there, be it learning how to fix your hair, or your makeup, or just getting into groups where other women have experienced the same thing and being able to talk about your experience in your journey. It's very helpful because unless you've been there, you really can't understand it. If you're speaking with other women or men that that have gone down this road, they understand where you're coming from. It's a good way to release and let people know how you feel and it's very therapeutic and healing to one who has gone through this.

Kelly Albert:

Absolutely. That support system is so obvious when you know speak to the patients that come out of the Breast Clinic how they had a mentor, they were partnered with a patient who has been through what they've been through. It's so remarkable to hear those connections that are built through the shared experience.

Kathy Kennedy:

That's right. Yeah, it's very, very important.

Kelly Albert:

Tell me about the event. The Pink Charity Softball Tournament. It's taking place at 72 St. Charles Avenue in Dorval. It starts Friday, July 8, at 6pm and it goes the whole weekend. Describe to me what this tournament is like.

Kathy Kennedy:

It's a great tournament. It's actually the tournament of the season. And the women that play in this in this tournament, they are so excited and so looking forward to it. Because like I said, we were on a hiatus there for two years with COVID. But everybody's really hyped about it. It's a great tournament to come out and have fun. We have different levels of balls. So the girls that have never even picked up a bat before have come out and they put on their pink t-shirts. And they try to play softball and just have a grand old time. So we have different caliber of players. The event itself is it runs as you say, across the weekend. We have a couple of different parks that have sat but the main park, of course, is St. Charles Park, in Dorval. We will be having some live music on Saturday at 5pm. It's a West Island band called Missing Experience. They have supported us in the past and this particular band is great, great fun rock and roll. And they actually do this out of the goodness of their hearts. They are a band that goes around the circuit, doing fundraisers just because. It would be nice to have people come out and get a little dancing on and we also have a fabulous barbecue. We have the Dr. Meterissian does come out and he's flipping burgers just like everybody else. So it's really great. And the other thing is to by having Dr. Meterissian with us over the weekend, if girls have concerns or have questions; he's there and he's open to answer any questions that some of the women may have. So it's really nice to have him in there with us supporting. He actually gets out onto the ball field and umpires so it's a super weekend. We have a silent auction; we have a 50-50 raffle with tons of door prizes. So it's a fun, fun weekend for everybody. We'd like to bring the whole community into this. So come out with your family, your friends, your grandma, your children. It's a lot of fun. And we're just praying, of course, to the weather gods that it's going to work with us this year.

Kelly Albert:

Yeah, that's really wonderful. So if you would like to either donate or go out and watch, you can find more information on the pink dot ca. So this is the Pink Charity Softball Tournament from Friday, July 8 at 6pm. until Sunday, July 10, at 10pm. Kathy Kennedy is the organizer. Kathy, thank you so much for joining me on the show. I really appreciate it.

Kathy Kennedy:

I thank you very much for inviting me and we look forward to a great tournament. The more people that come out at the merrier and we're just looking to raise as many dollars as we can for this wonderful cause.

Kelly Albert:

Absolutely. I'm Kelly Albert, thank you for tuning in. What would you like to hear about on the show? Write to me at health matters at MUHC Foundation dot com. You can also follow us on social media or sign up for our newsletter at MUHC Foundation dot com. I hope you'll join us again next Sunday. Thank you so much for listening to Health Matters and stay healthy.