On Nov. 11, the 29th CIBC Celebration of Hope brought together more than 800 guests to enjoy a day of laughter and optimism. Through the past decade, the luncheon event has raised more than $2.3 million in support of those impacted by cancer at Markham Stouffville Hospital (MSH).

“The CIBC Celebration of Hope is that unique combination of inspiration, entertainment, camaraderie and retail therapy,” said Erin Davis, Canadian radio icon and MC for the 25th year. “I return because I get such strength from the women and men who attend. It’s an honour to be a part of something this storied and significant.”

This year’s theme, Even Santa Loves Pink, was a holiday-inspired pink affair. All funds raised support the Shakir Rehmatullah Cancer Clinic at MSH, responding to the growing demand for cancer treatment close to home. MSH has been experiencing a 12 per cent annual increase in new oncology consults within recent years, currently treating upwards of 50 chemotherapy patients daily.

“The biggest feedback I get from patients is how efficient our cancer clinic is and what they like most is that they feel like a patient, not a number,” said Dr. Crystal Pallister, MSH general and oncological surgeon. “It’s a busy clinic, but that doesn’t stop the incredible multidisciplinary team from providing truly personalized care to each patient.”

“The team was so understanding, supportive and very hopeful,” said Tanya Porter, a MSH patient, who publicly shared her journey. “I always felt like I had a warrior standing by my side.”

The event attracted Canadian celebrities including CTV’s Lloyd Robertson and 98.1 CHFI’s Mike Cooper, whose late wife, Deborah, was remembered along with others who lost their battle to cancer. Jessica Holmes – Canadian comedian, author and actress left guests laughing and cheering from her hysterical performance.

“This past spring, I was lucky enough to meet some of the MSH staff and was in awe of how much they care,” said Holmes. “They really are making strides in so many ways. I’m so glad to participate in another truly inspirational MSH event. I’m not just saying that because they laughed at my jokes.”

Photo, from the left: Suzette Strong, MSH Foundation CEO; Shakir Rehmatullah, Flato Developments CEO; Jo-anne Marr, MSH CEO; and Brad Morris, MSH Foundation chair.