My Mom Died of Cancer 15 Years Ago

Paul and Pat Alofs

On November 2, 2002, my mom Pat Alofs, passed away from cancer after a long and courageous struggle with this disease.  I have been at The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation for 14 years and have seen remarkable progress in diagnosing and treating cancer.  Still, 1 in 2 Canadians will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime and about 25% of Canadians will die from this disease.  That’s the frightening news, but there is also some hopeful news.  In 1970, 25% of cancer patients survived for 10 years or more.  Now, 50% of cancer patients survive for 10 years or more.  Precision medicine or personalized cancer medicine is at the forefront of the new genomic strategies for both detecting and treating many forms of cancer.  Canada does not have a national strategy to deliver on the promise of precision medicine, but it does have the powerful and globally important leadership of the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.  A national strategy for Canada focused on precision medicine and innovations related to the field of cancer genomics is urgently needed for this country.  Our single payer system is actually very well suited to a national precision cancer medicine strategy.  Other countries have adopted this strategy and sadly, Canada lacks the focused leadership to do the same.  With 1 in 2 Canadians facing a cancer diagnosis and with the transformational advances in precision medicine and genomics, Canada should and must do better.  Until we do, we will lose more of our mothers and brothers and children and friends to this horrible disease.  We have the knowledge and the skill base, we just lack the leadership and the sense of urgency to get a national plan for precision medicine in place.  We could lead the world with our single payer system and a bold strategy with strong leadership, and the will to use the emerging technologies of precision cancer medicine.


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Run Your Business Like a Cause, and Your Cause Like a Business

Golden RuleYesterday, I gave a keynote speech at the Companies & Causes conference in Toronto.  I led off my talk with what I view as the “golden rule” of Passion Capital.  Here it is: “Run your business like a cause, and run your cause like a business”.  I love the traditional definition of the golden rule “Do Unto Others as You Would Have Them Do Unto You”, but having spent 28 years as the CEO or GM of a private sector company, or a not-for-profit, I believe my golden rule truly “RULES”.  This is why it’s so valuable to have people with private sector experience working in the not-for-profit world and conversely, having people in the private sector with not-for-profit experience.  The best of both worlds awaits those who understand this new golden rule of Passion Capital.

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How to Raise $1.2 Billion? – Just Ask

All of us askJust Ask for things on a daily basis.  We ask for a job, a date, a donation, a raise, a helping hand.  We ask for things all the time.  The biggest challenge to many people is in the mere act of asking.  In my first job at Colgate-Palmolive in 1978, my district manager gave me this piece of advice:  “Be prepared and then just ask. If you don’t ask, you won’t get.”  It seems simple but so many people spend so much time being stressed out about “the ask” that they fail to deliver.  Some things are easy to ask for and some things are complicated and emotional.  Having done your preparation and also carrying “passion” for your ask are two simple steps to take, and then just ask.  In my job at The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation, we spend the whole day either planning to make an ask or making asks from people who want to support our cause To Conquer Cancer In Our Lifetime.  Often the most difficult step is just asking.  We are afraid of rejection or getting a ‘no’, but nothing ever happens without someone asking.  Over the past 14 years, the PMCF has raised over $1.2 billion in net fundraising, one donor at a time, one ask at a time.  It takes courage to ask and passion for your cause.  Then it’s easy.  So, don’t be afraid, just ask!

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Hockey Fights Cancer Challenge


This Saturday over 1,700 Road Hockey warriors will gather in a parking lot at Woodbine and raise over $2.5 million in the fight against cancer.

PaulRHBlog.jpgThis is the 7th year of Road Hockey to Conquer Cancer in support of The Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.  Last year was another world-record setting event for a road hockey tournament and we hope to beat that record this Saturday!  I want to thank all of our supporters but I also want to take this opportunity to issue a friendly challenge to our friends at the NHL and Commissioner Gary Bettman.

Since 1998 the NHL has run a cancer fundraising event called Hockey Fights Cancer which has raised just under $1 million a year across all teams.  With nearly 1 in 2 North Americans facing a cancer diagnosis in their lifetime, I believe that the greatest game on earth can do more in the fight against cancer.

So, here’s the ultimate friendly face-off Gary Bettman and the NHL.  In the upcoming season, I challenge Hockey Fights Cancer to raise at least $2.5 million to match what our one-day one parking lot Road Hockey to Conquer Cancer event raises.  This does not seem to be much of a challenge, but it is over double what the NHL initiative currently raises each year.

Here’s the fun part.  When the NHL surpasses the $2.5 million dollar mark, I will strap on the pads and take the best shots from Mario Lemieux, Brian Boyle, Phil Kessel, Jason Blake or any of your amazing players that have been impacted by this terrible disease. We’ll do it in Pittsburgh!  If the NHL does not raise at least $2.5 million dollars this year in its Hockey Fights Cancer program, then I would like Commissioner Bettman to take my place in the crease.

So, Game On, Commissioner Bettman.  Hockey Fights Cancer is a bold title so let’s get bold with our efforts. Commissioner Bettman and the NHL, will you take on this challenge?  And, to all of my 1,700 Road Hockey to Conquer Cancer warriors who will be out Saturday morning playing and raising money, we are grateful beyond words for your courageous and significant support.

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14 Years Ago Today – $1.2 Billion Raised


It was 14 years ago today I started my journey as the CEO of The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation.  The loss of my mom, Pat, to cancer led me to this work.  The PMCF has raised $1.2 billion in net fundraising during my watch.  I have seen incredible transformation and innovation driven by top cancer clinicians and scientists making the Princess Margaret one of the top 5 cancer research centres in the world.

Paul14.jpgThe “Creed” of The Princess Margaret captures our vision, mission and ambition to “Conquer Cancer In Our Lifetime”.  The opportunity to work with the most extraordinary colleagues at both the Foundation and the Cancer Centre has been the highlight of the past 14 years.  When I joined the Foundation, we were raising under $30 million annually.  We now raise over $100 million annually.  We benefit from about 250,000 donors annually who entrust us with their donations to put to work in our fight to conquer cancer.  Our major events like the Ride to Conquer Cancer (just completed its 10th year and has raised $175 million in Ontario), the OneWalk to Conquer Cancer (its 15th year this Saturday and it has raised $168 million in Ontario), along with our army of donors have transformed a provincial cancer hospital into a global leader recognized around the world.

With 1 in 2 Canadians facing a cancer diagnosis in their lifetime, we must build a national concensus around precision medicine and innovation related to genomics, robotics, and artificial intelligence in the pursuit of improved outcomes for cancer patients.  In January 2017, the Board of PMCF announced I would be stepping down from my role as CEO and that a search for my successor would begin.  In the coming months, a new CEO will take over at the PMCF and I know that individual will continue the transformational and outstanding work in support of one of the world’s top 5 cancer research centres as we lead the charge to Conquer Cancer In Our Lifetime.These past 14 years have been transformational for me and the best years of a career full of highlights.  My personal gratitude and recognition for all my colleagues at the PMCF as well as our incredible Board of Directors for the privilege of working for our cause.

Thank you.

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1 in 2 is the new reality for us, and it’s frightening


What would you say if I told you nearly 1 in 2 Canadians will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime? That’s half of your loved ones, half of your colleagues at work, half of your neighbours.

1 in 2 is the new reality for us, and it’s frightening.

At Princess Margaret Cancer Centre we deal with sobering statistics every day. But there is hope. Our team of cancer experts offer real hope. Our world-leading clinical trials program offers real hope. Our team of 72 highly skilled surgeons offer real hope. We have one of the most advanced and largest radiation treatment program in the world. Our team is also advancing supportive care to improve patient’s quality of life. We also take pride in sharing our advances with other cancer centres in the country and around the world.

We feel that hope every time a person walks out of the Cancer Centre with uplifting news that they are cancer free. We also feel it when someone lives longer and their quality of live is improved.

This real hope is the result of the hard work of our cancer experts with the support of our community.

We are inspired by our patients who challenge us to push hard to fund  important discovery research and innovative cancer care.

When we face staggering statistics like 1 in 2, there is fear but remember there is also real hope at The Princess Margaret. This is an issue which affects all Canadians. I hope this can be the start of a conversation which we can all engage in.

Please donate and help us transform cancer care for Canadians. #1in2

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Clarity + Unity + Simplicity

Maimageny questions about how The Princess Margaret has raised over $1 Billion for cancer research.  The answer is found in three words. Clarity + Unity + Simplicity.  Our Creed represents CLARITY of purpose “To Conquer Cancer In Our Lifetime at one of the world’s top 5 cancer research centres”.  Our culture is award-winning (three times named as one of Canada’s Top 10 Most Admired Corporate Cultures) and brings UNITY of action.  Our courage is derived from the SIMPLICITY of our daily work to measurably improve outcomes for the 1 in 2 Canadians who will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime.  CLARITY + UNITY + SIMPLICITY are the driving principles behind our success as a fundraising organization that has raised over $1 Billion  in support of one of the world’s great cancer centres.  Passion Capital is the result of this Clarity + Unity + Simplicity.

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