Walker Walking

Dollars at Work

A letter from Dr. Tak Mak


The 2018 Rexall™ One Walk to Conquer Cancer™ will be a historic point in the journey as this is the Walk’s 16th year. I remember like it was yesterday, the first Walk and the passion that I saw in all the Walkers’ faces as I greeted them at the finish line. I was so grateful for all that they had done and the amazing funds that each Walker raised to support the work at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.

In the last many years we have accomplished so much together.

For example, the Cancer Centre created the first in-hospital survivorship program, which was originally for breast cancer patients, but subsequently was expanded so that all patients could take advantage of this support program.

My scientific discovery team and I began the long journey to find new targets over a decade ago, and today, we have several novel therapies that have moved into clinical trials. To accomplish this, we created a new Therapeutics Group within the Campbell Family Institute at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. One drug known as PLK 4 has completed Phase 1 trials and is moving into Phase 2. A second drug known as TTK is moving into Phase 1 trials. The road for new therapies and true breakthroughs take time and ongoing funding. We also have other discoveries in the pipeline and therapeutics under development, which we are hoping to further advance in 2018.

Another major accomplishment has been the creation of the Tumor Immunotherapy Program. Drs. Lillian Siu and Pam Ohashi are Co-Directors of this program. The Walkers supported our discovery work in Immunotherapy from the beginning. Today, it is one of the biggest ideas of the past decade and we believe it has the potential to revolutionize cancer therapy. This could be the fourth pillar of cancer treatment in addition to surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. We now have over 180 active clinical trials underway, including Canada’s first gene-engineered T-cell trial. The Princess Margaret, in part to Walker community, now boasts Canada’s most comprehensive immunotherapy program. This work could be effective on a number of different types of cancer and even some of the more difficult to treat today.

As we continue on our journey, know that progress is being made. We understand so much more today than when I started my career in the 70’s. We are in an amazing era of genomic discovery and uncovering insights that have eluded researchers in previous decades. We now know that there are many forms of cancer within the same type and that some forms of one cancer are more related to another form of cancer. We are discovering new cancer targets and from that new targeted therapies.

So I encourage you to Walk in the Rexall OneWalk to Conquer Cancer to allow me and my fellow researchers to continue our work. I share your passion and your dream that one day all cancers not be a disease that you die from, but a disease that can be controlled and that you live with.

The team at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre is committed but we can’t do it alone.

I will see you on the 2018 Walk, please make sure to come up and introduce yourself!

My heartfelt thanks,

Dr. Tak Mak
Director, The Campbell Family Cancer Research Institute
Princess Margaret Cancer Centre

What is Personalized Cancer Medicine?

At The Princess Margaret, we are excited to be leading a new integrated approach to cancer treatment called Personalized Cancer Medicine.

This approach will include using a patient’s genetic information to more precisely diagnose their cancer and tailor the most effective treatment for them.

But Personalized Cancer Medicine at The Princess Margaret is so much more. We have always focused on the individual needs of each patient and not just their disease.

That is why we have:

  • Developed award-winning clinical programs to assist our patients and their families.
  • Recruited highly-skilled physicians and scientists who have the expertise to lead important research projects and clinical studies that improve the standard of care for patients.
  • Built integrated teams that include engineers, bioinformatics specialists and medicinal chemists. These teams are translating new technology and discoveries into improved therapies that will help more patients sooner.

Our strong culture of innovation has made this cancer centre a world leader in cancer research and treatment, and with your financial support, we will lead the way in Personalized Cancer Medicine.

Dr. Mary Gospodarowicz, Medical Director

What is Personalized Cancer Medicine?

Over the past 50 years, our scientists and physicians have learned just how complex cancer is. Every patient and every patient’s cancer is unique.

There has been a clear understanding for some time that cancer is a very different disease depending on where it originates. So today lung cancer is treated in a different way than colon or kidney cancer, or leukemia.

But more recently, new technology and insight have allowed us to see that the disease is even more complex than that. There can be many forms of lung cancer or colon cancer, and a genetic analysis of a tumour may be required to confirm the specifics of each patient’s disease.

The Princess Margaret is one of the top 5 cancer research centres in the world with an outstanding reputation for breakthrough research, exemplary teaching and compassionate care.

We are two years into our Billion Dollar Challenge, which is a five-year initiative to help revolutionize cancer care. Over the next three years, The Princess Margaret will continue to be creating the blueprint, developing and implementing new procedures, and setting the gold standard for Personalized Cancer Medicine for all patients at The Princess Margaret, across Canada and around the world. In addition to genetic analysis of tumours, this new approach to cancer treatment encompasses four main themes:

  • Detect
  • Diagnose
  • Target
  • Support

Detecting cancer earlier

If cancer is detected at an early stage, the prognosis for a complete remission is much improved. Our research teams are working on many early detection initiatives, including:

  • Developing and testing better imaging equipment so small tumours can be seen more clearly.
  • Identifying unique ‘markers’ of cancers that can be detected in blood and serum tests.

Diagnosing with more precision

New equipment and procedures that determine the specific genetic mutations or changes that gave rise to a patient’s cancer are being tested at The Princess Margaret. This information will enable the experts to recommend the optimal combination of drug and other therapies for successfully treating each patient.

Targeting treatment for each patient

Improved surgical, radiation and drug treatments will target only the cancer and leave healthy tissue alone, minimizing toxic side effects. Our scientists and doctors are testing new treatments that can more effectively detect and eradicate cancer cells, leading to more durable cures.

Supporting patients and families throughout their cancer journey

Being well-informed about their disease, the treatment they will receive and the side effects that can be expected gives patients and their families more confidence, reduces anxiety and leads to improved quality of life. Our award-winning survivorship, patient education and psychosocial support programs need to be expanded so that more patients can be empowered throughout their personal cancer journey.

Immunotherapy at The Princess Margaret – Revolutionizing Cancer Therapy

Immunotherapy is rapidly gaining recognition for its potential to change the way we treat cancer and to join chemotherapy, radiation and surgery as a fourth pillar of cancer treatment.

Within the international scientific community, it has been long understood that the immune system has the ability to conquer cancer. We’re now at a point where this knowledge has started to become translated into treatment possibilities for cancer patients.

We have already seen numerous success stories of cancers fought and lives extended through immunotherapy.

This vital research is made possible in part by donations received from more than 62,000 participants who have Walked the Walk! Because of OneWalk, we are advancing cancer research. Learn more about the vital work being done at The Princess Margaret to revolutionize immunotherapy treatment by clicking here.

To read The Princess Margaret’s Immunotherapy Magazine, click here.


Are you interested in learning about the true impact of your fundraising dollars within one of the top 5 cancer research centres in the world? Princess Margaret Cancer Centre invites you for an up-close look through its OneWalk Insider tour.

What Is The OneWalk Insider Tour?

  • A free hour-and-a-half tour and presentation that allows you to see and hear the impact that your fundraising dollars are having at The Princess Margaret.
  • The chance to view its world-class radiation centre, key researcher labs, new research tower, surgical suite and/or a clinical area of interest (pending individual tour accommodations).
  • An opportunity to hear from world-renowned doctors, researchers and radiation oncologists whose work has been directly impacted by OneWalk to Conquer Cancer.



Our OneWalk Insider tour is open to everyone: Walkers, potential Walkers, family, friends and donors! Tours generally run January through May on weekdays from 5-7 p.m. Select weekend dates may be available.

Open Tour Dates:

More dates coming soon!


Let us create a tour that suits your team and donors! Whether this is your first visit, or you’ve seen our centre before, we are happy to arrange a customized tour for you.

Book your custom tour today!


Do you need more information? We are interested in speaking with you about our OneWalk Insider tour.

Contact Christy Manos at   Christy.Manos@thepmcf.ca for any questions.



Since 2003, participants have raised significant and vital funds for cancer care and research.

Register for OneWalk
Donate to OneWalk


Scientists at The Princess Margaret ID a biomarker that determines if colon cancer patients will benefit from treatment with cetuximab.

Learn more about cetuximab treatment


The Walk becomes OneWalk to Conquer Cancer, raising funds for all cancer research. OneWalk is now one of Canada's largest cancer fundraisers.


Dr. John Dick and his colleagues identify a pre-leukemic stem cell that will accelerate new therapies for acute myeloid leukemia.


Walk funds support Dr. Pamela Ohashi's immunotherapy research at The Princess Margaret.

Learn more about immunotherapy


Walk funds support the Conway Chemotherapy and Transfusion Centre, which now has over 70,000 patient visits annually.


ELLICSR: Health, Wellness & Cancer Survivorship Centre opens on National Cancer Survivors Day.

What is ELLICSR?


The Walk crosses the $100M fundraising mark and becomes North America’s #1 multi-day fundraising walk for women’s cancers.


The intraoperative radiation therapy clinical trial and the development of a comprehensive digital breast imaging program is made possible.


Walk funds support research on why mammographic density is a major risk factor for breast cancer.


The Gattuso Rapid Diagnostic Centre opens. Seeing 1,300 patients a year, breast cancer diagnoses are completed within 24 hours.

Discover how the GRDC is saving lives


Princess Margaret scientists discover that a molecule that was previously connected to Parkinson's disease is related to cancer development.


Led by Dr. Tak Mak, the Campbell Family Institute for Breast Cancer Research is launched.

Discover more


The first-ever Weekend to End Breast Cancer raises $12.5M to support Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.

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