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Pearls of Wisdom, a sold-out mentoring brunch on September 18 celebrating the amazing spirit of Pearl Marcus, raised approximately $70,000 for the Panov Program in Precision Chemotherapy at Mount Sinai Hospital, part of Sinai Health System.

The Panov Program is a groundbreaking research program with the goal of creating “precision” or personalized treatment for cancer. The treatment involves grafting small pieces of a patient’s tumour onto a group of specialized “avatar” mice. The mice are treated with different chemotherapy drugs to see which ones work best. Doctors then prescribe the same drug to the patient.

After being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, Pearl had hoped to benefit from this treatment, but sadly she passed away the week before a drug could be tried.

“Mom touched everyone in a special way, so our family chose to honour her by celebrating mentors in the community,” said Jaclyn and Michelle Marcus, Pearl’s daughters. “Before she died, she wrote us each a diary during chemotherapy sessions filled with “pearls of wisdom” to guide us in future years.”

Inspired by her example, Pearl’s daughters and her husband Paul organized the event around the importance of mentorship and shared wisdom to pay tribute to Pearl’s friendship, sense of caring and intelligence.

The Pearls of Wisdom event featured keynote remarks by Canadian astronaut Dr. Steve MacLean who shared “pearls of wisdom” learned in space as well as cancer research, as 100 of his 135 flights have had a cancer component. MacLean is the second Canadian to walk in space and is a past president of the Canadian Space Agency. The finale featured a performance by Juno-nominated singer and songwriter Amy Sky, who has written for Diana Ross and Olivia Newton John, and has been an active community leader and volunteer. Sky sadly lost her own mother to cancer four years ago.

“We were thrilled to have such incredible role models like Amy and Steve participating in our event and honouring Pearl’s memory,” said Paul.

To further pay tribute to Pearl’s memory, a surgical bay at Mount Sinai Hospital will be named for the Pearl Marcus Foundation.