Anyone diagnosed with cancer begins a journey of struggle and hardship, but also one of strength and courage. This journey is not only experienced by the patient but also their loved ones.

Dana Massaro lost her husband, Kenneth Joseph Verdoni, to complications from cancer, when he was only fifty-nine. He fought his battle for seven years and she was by his side every step of the way. Ken had colorectal cancer, which is the second leading cause of cancer in Canadians. Unfortunately, it is quite common for colorectal cancer to spread to the liver and other organs, which is what happened in Ken’s case. It was an arduous time, but if there was one silver lining Dana could point to, it was the dedicated and thoughtful care from the staff at the Royal Victoria Hospital of the McGill University Health Centre (RVH-MUHC).

Dana has never forgotten the determination of Dr. Peter Metrakos, Director of Hepatopancreatobiliary Surgery at the MUHC and leader of the Cancer Research Program at the Research Institute of the MUHC. Forever grateful for the care bestowed upon her husband, Dana made it her mission to support Dr. Metrakos’ research in intestinal disease. Driven and committed, Dana, a consummate professional with twenty-five years of experience in retail, enlisted the help of her family and friends and became one of the most successful volunteer fundraisers the RVH Foundation has ever had the pleasure to work with.

Now, only five years after Ken’s passing, Dana’s dream has been realized. It’s a result we all share with pride – the creation of the Ken Verdoni Liver Metastases Research Fellowship. The first fellow, whose work is funded for the next two years, is Nisreen Samir Ibrahim. Nisreen’s work involves researching the distinct ways in which colon cancer spreads to the liver. She will analyze the underlying biology of these metastases, which will lead to refinement of current treatment strategies and allow for a more personalized approach to the management of metastatic disease.

Dana recently met Nisreen and was able to see the impact of her support. It was an emotional moment for both of them. Dana is overjoyed that her late husband’s name lives on with this important fellowship, creating a lasting legacy.

But part of Dana’s visionary idea was also to lay the groundwork for further funding down the road. Seeing how her husband’s passing has allowed research to thrive, she wants to continue supporting the groundbreaking work at the MUHC in another way. She has achieved this by making the Royal Victoria Hospital Foundation the beneficiary of her life insurance policy, thereby creating her own legacy, and honouring Ken in perpetuity.

You too can make a difference to healthcare in our community with your own gift to the Foundation. You can designate the MUHC Foundation or the RVH Foundation as the owner and beneficiary of a life insurance policy, or you can simply make a bequest in your will.

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