Hold’em for Life events have raised over $17 million since 2006.

Advances in the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer are contributing to early detection and a better chance of survival. More people are beating cancer, living longer lives and looking forward to life beyond cancer thanks to fundraising events like the Hold’ em for Life Charity Challenge that help fund this innovative care and research.

2014 Beneficiary

Funds raised from the 2014 Real Estate Industry Hold’em for Life Charity Challenge will support innovative breast cancer research at Mount Sinai Hospital.

Dr. Pamela Goodwin is the Director of Mount Sinai’s Marvelle Koffler Breast Centre, the first dedicated multi-disciplinary breast centre in Canada that today sees approximately 33,000 patient visits annually. Her work focuses on ‘host factors’ – the unique characteristics of each woman – and how those factors might predispose her to developing the disease and alter the clinical course of breast cancer once it has developed. Her pivotal research has drastically changed the current understanding of breast cancer risk. She was the first to show a connection between insulin levels and breast cancer recurrence and is currently leading the largest clinical trial in the world to investigate the use of a commonly used diabetes medication and its potential to improve survival rates for women with early-stage breast cancer.

A collaborative program at Mount Sinai Hospital of integrated research in breast cancer. Clinical and laboratory scientists will focus on the interface between key patient related factors (hormones, metabolic factors) and the cancer (genes, growth pathways), with a goal to accelerate the development of new therapies that will be clinically useful, with a particular focus on advanced breast cancer where current therapies often fail. The ultimate goal is to enhance the use of a personalized approach that will reduce the risk of metastases developing and lead to more effective treatment of women who develop metastases.

Mount Sinai is home to The Marvelle Koffler Breast Centre, the first dedicated multi-disciplinary breast centre in Canada that today sees approximately 33,000 patient visits annually. Mount Sinai is also the first hospital to have the ability to measure circulating cancer cells in the blood in the clinical setting; these cells can be used to predict outcomes in breast cancer patients.

Past Beneficiaries

Since its inception in 2006, The Real Estate Industry Hold’em for Life Charity Challenge has raised $6 million and has been integral to raising in excess of $17 million from Hold’em for Life Charity Challenge events. The vast majority of funds raised have gone directly to the following beneficiaries:

Mount Sinai Hospital

In 2010, Hold’em for Life established the Hold’em for Life chair in prostate cancer research at Mount Sinai Hospital. Prostate cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in men and because there is no effective method to prevent it, early diagnosis is key. While the currently-used PSA test is effective at detecting prostate cancer, it also gives positive results in cases where aggressive treatment is not required and in patients with benign prostate-related diseases. Mount Siani has created a research program that aims to better diagnose prostate cancer through non-invasive procedures which the Hold’em for Life Chair will support.

Funds provided by Hold’em for Life were used to purchase equipment that will dramatically accelerate genetic testing on tumour samples. This has traditionally been a slow process because samples had to be tested one at a time. With the addition of a Microarrayer and Aperio Digital Scanner, Mount Sinai Hospital scientists now have the ability to complete hundreds of genetic tests simultaneously, and examine and analyze test results more quickly.

Hold’em for Life contributions also supported the purchase of a Large Plate Digital Mammography Unit for the Marvelle Koffler Breast Centre. Although digital mammography is a much more effective breast cancer screening tool for women over age 50 or who have dense breasts, the Centre had only two mammography units and was unable to keep up with growing patient demand. The addition of a third unit has helped ensure that Mount Sinai Hospital patients continue to receive the best and most timely care.

Dr. Jeffrey Wrana is a world-renowned researcher who looking for the most effective drug with the least side effects for treating leukemia patients. Thanks to Hold’em for Life he now has a Luminometer to help him screen large numbers of drug molecules for markers that will indicate their effectiveness against leukemia.

Princess Margaret Hospital

Princess Margaret Hospital is one of the top five cancer research centres in the world. Hold’em for Life has provided vital funding for its Genitourinary (GU) Cancer Division which seeks to be a world leader in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of the most common cancers affecting men including prostate, kidney, bladder and testicular cancer.

Proceeds were directed to the Genitourinary BioBank which collects, stores and analyzes blood and urine samples from GU cancer patients to help facilitate research discoveries that will directly impact patient care. Hold’em also funded equipment that is used provide highly accurate quantification of trace proteins, in hundreds of GU patient samples at the same time.