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August 28, 2023
For Stéphanie Drolet, president and founder of the Yvon Michel Foundation, finding a cure for advanced breast cancer is a personal mission. Having lost her mother to metastatic breast cancer when she was a young woman, Stéphanie vowed to provide hope to women with the illness, and to fight to ensure that others will not lose a loved one, as she did.
“I supported my mother for almost two years as she fought for her life,” says Stéphanie. “Unfortunately, the disease was fierce and left her no chance. At age 50, my mother passed away. Until the end, I kept hope, I hoped with all my strength for a miracle that never came. Today, I want to make a difference in the lives of women with metastatic breast cancer, and help them hold on to hope.”
This vow led to Stéphanie founding the Yvon Michel Foundation to ensure no woman would be robbed of her loved ones by metastatic breast cancer. The leading cause of cancer-related deaths in women worldwide, metastatic breast cancer occurs when breast cancer spreads through a woman’s bloodstream to other parts of the body, usually the bones, lungs, liver or brain.
Since 2019, the Yvon Michel Foundation has generously donated $288,000 to the MUHC Foundation through its prestigious annual gala—Souper Bénéfice Fondation Yvon Michel—to raise awareness and support for metastatic breast cancer research at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC).
Currently, breast cancer that has spread to the liver does not respond well to any existing treatments. Thanks to Stéphanie and the Yvon Michel Foundation, the Metrakos Lab at the RI-MUHC – led by Dr. Peter Metrakos, Head of the Cancer Research Program and Dr. Anthoula Lazaris, cancer researcher — is advancing cancer research and searching for new treatments in the fight against metastatic breast cancer. Already, the team have confirmed that breast cancer metastases to the liver mainly use vessel co-option, which means these tumours high-jack the patient’s blood vessels to obtain nutrients rather than creating their own like other cancers. This partly explains why current treatments do not work. Next, they will investigate a potential drug to block vessel co-option. The hope is that a new treatment can be found and that it may even work on breast cancer that has moved to other organs.
Thanks to the vow Stéphanie made to herself, her mother and the future generations of women affected by this horrible disease many years ago, progress is being made and more lives and being saved.
In honour of the Yvon Michel Foundation’s support of the MUHC, a plaque was placed at the Breast Clinic. A special gathering including Stéphanie Drolet and Yvon Michel, MUHC Board Members, the Metrakos Lab team, and members of the community dedicated to supporting breast cancer research were in attendance on June 1st to mark this momentous occasion.
With the passion and commitment of Stéphanie and the Yvon Michel Foundation in supporting the Metrakos Lab, the MUHC is one step closer to extending the lives of patients with metastatic breast cancer, ensuring that one day, no one will lose their mother, sister, daughter, or friend.