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TORONTO – For an hour on Friday night, a lineup of celebrities and TV personalities will be on hand to raise money for cancer research.
But the true stars are the country’s scientists devoting their careers to fighting the disease. Every dollar donated during Canada’s inaugural Stand Up To Cancer show will go towards the cause – funding research, public awareness and education.
At 8 p.m. ET, Global News, along with its three fellow English-language TV networks, will simultaneously air the prime-time program. It’ll broadcast at the same time as its U.S. counterpart – in its fourth year – on ABC, Fox, CBS, and NBC among other channels.
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READ MORE: Global to air star-studded ‘Stand Up To Cancer’ special
It’s a big deal for Dr. John Dick, a senior scientist at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.
He’s a world leader in studying cancer stem cells with discoveries that helped pave the way to leukemia drugs.
Yet generating research dollars pulls the doctor away from his research.
“We spend all of our lives trying to find funding,” he told Global News.
“I have three grants that I have on the go. I have been in continuous grant writing mode for almost the least year and a half,” he explained.
After four years of building up his research team, and despite their developments, he’s had to wind down after funding ran out.
He calls it “heartbreaking,” but it’s an experience common to many scientists.
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The average grant is $450,000 over a three-year period.
This is where the Stand Up To Cancer telethon holds promise for these doctors.
In the U.S., it’s made a huge difference, according to spokesman Tom Chiodo.
“We’ve raised more than a quarter of a billion dollars and funded more than 13 dream teams in the past six years. We’re funding hundreds of clinical trials and we’re getting results,” he said.
(More than 30 Canadian researchers at six Canadian institutions already receive funding from the U.S.-based Stand Up To Cancer donations.)
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It’s the kind of funding that could usher in major medical breakthroughs in cancer research pioneered within Canada.
It also eases the pressure on the country’s scientists – instead of competing for grants and working in silos, it encourages collaboration.
“The more people will give, the faster we’ll beat different cancers. And that’s our goal. Our goal is survivorship. We want more people surviving cancer,” Chiodo said.
The star-studded cast includes Robert Downey Jr., Halle Berry, Steve Carell, Sofia Vergara, Anna Kendrick and Jennifer Aniston.
The celebrities will also reach out to Canadians on social media using the hash tags #werecallingyou and #standuptocancer.
Every hour, an average of 22 people will be diagnosed with some type of cancer.
Learn more about the initiative here.