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To Gord Downie, The Hip, And Canadians: Thank You

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GORD DOWNIE
Marcus Oleniuk via Getty Images
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Dr. James Perry and Sunnybrook staff sing "Courage" in tribute to Gord Downie.

Written by Dr. James Perry, Head of Neurology at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. He is also a Neuro-oncologist at Sunnybrook's Odette Cancer Centre and Hurvitz Brain Sciences Program.

Dear Canadians,

Thank you so much to The Tragically Hip and all their fans who have generously donated to the Gord Downie Fund for Brain Cancer Research.

I've had the honour and privilege of treating Mr. Downie over the past few months, and working with his health-care team during this summer's tour.

When the band stepped on stage in Victoria, B.C. for the tour's first stop, like many others in the audience, I cried. It is always inspiring to see one of my patients return to something they love, and in this case, I saw someone sharing his passion with thousands of others who were able to share this moment with him.

Over the next few weeks, millions of Canadians would watch this incredible band, celebrating their success and paying tribute to what has become part of our nation's identity. Stories of people hosting backyard barbecues, drive-ins (and boat-ins!), and many other fundraisers to help battle brain cancer have been a turning point in the level of awareness for this disease.

"Thank you again for all of your support, for sharing the stories of how cancer has touched your lives, for raising a glass for Gord, and for donating money to the research fund."

I have been truly inspired by the outpouring of support from across Canada and beyond our borders.

On a hot Saturday night in August, 11.7 million people tuned into the CBC's broadcast of The Tragically Hip show in Kingston, Ont.

Sadly, in the next year, nearly 400 of those viewers will develop a glioblastoma. And 400 more the year after that. And the year after that too...

But there is hope.

At Sunnybrook and at cancer centres around the world, we are making progress in treatment advancements, and support like yours helps us continue our work. We want to find tumours earlier and see them better. We want to see tumours so clearly that we can find their weak spots, send medication into the right areas, and kill the cancer cells without harming other healthy tissue. We want to do this to give our patients more time -- time to sing, time to fly, and time to do whatever it is that makes them and those around them happy.

Our Brain Tumour Clinic Team at Sunnybrook is made of a wonderful group of people who want the best for our patients. Funding will help us expand our team and bring in more of the best and brightest minds to lead the way in research. We also work with other brain specialists so that breakthroughs in imaging help not only those with brain tumours, but offer hope for patients with Alzheimer's, ALS and other diseases of the brain.

I've been asked a lot this summer if I'm a Hip fan, and I am. I treat 250 new patients year, and I'm a fan of all of them -- for the strength they show and for the determination they have to make the cancer journey better for those who face it after them.

Thank you again for all of your support, for sharing the stories of how cancer has touched your lives, for raising a glass for Gord, and for donating money to the research fund. On behalf of my team, my patients and their families: Thank you.

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