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SickKids Support

Proceeds from this event support the SickKids Foundation and are designated to the Meagan Bebenek Endowment Fund and awareness, research and treatment of paediatric brain tumours at SickKids.

MW Sponsored Research 

Funds raised through Meagan’s Walk support awareness and research about paediatric brain tumours, and have global impact, improving diagnoses, treatments and outcomes for young patients throughout the world. 

The Arthur and Sonia Labatt Brain Tumour Research Centre (BTRC) in Toronto hosts the only program in Canada dedicated to paediatric brain tumour research. It is housed in the new Peter Gilgan Centre for Research and Learning, which, in itself, is a testament to innovation and excellence in children’s health care. 

Established in 1999, the BTRC began with a team of four researchers. Today the centre has grown to become one of the largest brain tumour research centres in the world, with over 100 researchers working together. Led by Dr. James Rutka, the BTRC brings together scientists and clinicians to study brain tumours, amalgamating their expertise, sharing ideas, resources and equipment, in an atmosphere that is conducive to excellence in molecular neuro-oncology research, as well as producing extensive publications concerning this work, and translational research. Translational research applies findings from basic science to enhance health and well-being. 

The “bench to bedside” approach leads to advancements in clinical care and research. And this has repercussions for children around the world, as knowledge is gained through collaboration, and shared to benefit all.

SickKids shows off new equipment funded by Meagan's Walk

Written by Natalie Nanowski, CBC News

Ever wonder where the money a charity raises ends up?

Meagan's Walk, the annual five-kilometre walk for children's brain cancer research, held a show-and-tell session at the Labatt Brain Tumour Research Centre at the Hospital for Sick Children Thursday evening to answer that question.

Last year, the charity allocated $460,000 towards research and equipment for the world-renowned lab.

"People have been giving to our cause," said James Rutka, director of the research centre. "The vast majority of them have never seen what we do with the research money and for them to come and see how research is done at the bench is extremely important."

Thirteen research proposals were funded by Meagan's Walk in 2016 — some are trying to identify the harmful cells that cause deadly brain tumours in young people.

"Brain tumours are the number one cause of cancerous deaths in children and adolescents," said Denise Bebenek, who started Meagan's Walk after her five-year-old daughter died from a brain tumour in 2001. "I started this after I saw how underfunded research was for pediatric brain tumours."

Since the first Meagan's Walk in 2002, the charity has raised $4.5 million dollars for research. Through a vetting process it decides which brain cancer projects at SickKids get funded.

"In the last 25 years we've seen some fantastic changes in the way that we look at and in the way that we understand brain tumours," said Rutka. "And many of the advances have come from this institution."

Read the full article here.

Meagan’s Walk Neuro-Oncology Fellowship

The Meagan’s Walk Neuro-Oncology Fellowship, established in 2014, furthers clinical and research training in sub-specialities of paediatric oncology care.

Dr. Alvaro, Lassaletta, the first Meagan’s Walk Fellow, has returned to Madrid, and was recently honoured as the recipient of the James B. Nachmann Award in Pediatric Oncology. His work was also recognized through the American Society of Clinical Oncology Connections (ASCO). (https://connection.asco.org/magazine/society-member-news/conquer-cancer-foundation-asco-recognizes-future-pioneers-cancer)



The second Meagan’s Walk Fellow, Dr. Michal Zapotocky, is from Prague, Czech Republic, where he underwent training in paediatrics and paediatric haematology and oncology. In order to improve his experience with brain tumour patients, Dr. Zapotocky moved to Toronto in 2015, and, with the support of Meagan’s Walk, proceeded to train under the supervision of Dr. Bouffet. During his tenure as Fellow, his research focus was on low-grade gliomas, evaluating incidents of mutations in low-grade gliomas, and correlating types of mutation with clinical outcomes, and selecting patients suitable for novel targeted therapies. After completion of his Fellowship work, Dr. Zapotocky plans to return to his institution in Prague and lead the neuro-oncology program there.

In July 2016, Dr. Eric Bouffet, neuro-oncologist, and Professor of Paediatrics, welcomed Dr.Christine Dahl of Denmark to SickKids. Dr. Dahl is the third and most recent Meagan’s Walk Neuro-Oncology Fellow.

Dr. Dahl says, “I have had the opportunity to work on a project investigating the cognitive outcome of children treated for medulloblastoma in relation to hearing impairment. This work will benefit future patients at SickKids and elsewhere. Hearing loss is a major issue in our discipline, because the use of some chemotherapy may cause hearing loss. My other project focuses on the risk of brain stem necrosis following radiation therapy. This is one of the most amazing periods of my professional life because the quality of treatment, research and learning is outstanding. I cannot thank Meagan’s Walk enough for this opportunity!"


Meagan’s Walk National Seed Grant Competition


The First Annual Meagan’s Walk National Seed Grant Competition has awarded funds to four different research projects that are partnerships between the Brain Tumour Research Centre here in Toronto and three different promising research studies across Canada. Seed funding provides researchers the ability to get their promising studies off the ground, without it these scientists would have to frame their projects according to government funding levels impeding new, promising avenues of study.

The winning projects for 2016 were:  

ReRad: A Phase II Study of Re-Irradiation of Treatment of Progressive

Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma with the Canadian Paediatric Brain Tumour Consortium of the Alberta Children’s Hospital and University of Calgary

Health Related Quality of Life in Patients Diagnosed with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma and their Caregivers in collaboration with Dr. Fiona Schulte of the Alberta Children’s Hospital.

The Role of RNA Stress Granules in GBM Treatment Resistance in collaboration with Dr. Weeks from Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia

The study of Medulloblastoma subgroup 3 Development in collaboration with Dr. David Eisenstat from the University of Alberta.

Giving Parents a Voice in Brain Cancer Research

In 2016, Meagan’s Walk worked with a group of researchers at McGill University, led by Dr. Gillian Bartlett, to get parents’ views on communication strategies that are needed for children, their parents and healthcare teams regarding a new genomic test meant to improve the diagnosis and care of children with brain tumours.

Dr. Bartlett with her two PhD trainees, Cristina Longo and Vaso Rahmizadeh, travelled to Toronto, met with parents from the Meagan’s Walk community of supporters, on three different occasions starting in May and ending in September. The parents generously shared their experiences and views on what is necessary for good communication between the healthcare team and the families of children with brain tumours.

After returning the information to her larger research team, Dr. Bartlett will be working again with Meagan’s Walk to create online training videos for clinicians as well as working on a role playing card-game to help understand what children who have been diagnosed with brain tumours value when it comes to making treatment decisions. Information from the initial sessions with the parents will be used for both of these activities with Dr. Bartlett meeting again with the parents in the New Year (2017).

Dr. Bartlett also expects to return to Meagan’s Walk to share the detailed results from her work. To quote one of the paediatric palliative care physicians from Dr. Bartlett's work, “This is research that matters.”

Making Cancer Less Painful for Kids

The Cancer Knowledge Network, a website launched in 2011 to address many areas of the cancer world including childhood cancer, launched the campaign 'Making Cancer Less Painful for Kids' in 2016. Over 12 months, the CKN brought parents the very best, cutting-edge research evidence about children’s cancer pain–what causes it, common myths, how to assess it, how to treat it, and more! Meagan’s Walk is proud to support the #kidscancerpain project by taking part in discussion groups, providing blog narratives and marketing analysis. Follow our social media pages to keep up to date on the campaign and follow the Cancer Knowledge Network on Facebook or at www.cancerkn.com