by Janet, Isobel and Sam Fanaki
Finding a purpose helped our family to heal from loss.
We started The Adam Fanaki Brain Fund in February 2020 as a fundraising initiative to reach out to brain tumour patients and their caregivers.
Adam Fanaki was one of Canada’s brightest legal minds and a friend to many around the world. An avid skier, tennis player, movie buff and world traveler for both work and pleasure, he lived a full and prosperous life.
Over the summer of 2016, he began experiencing unusual symptoms such as hearing loss and difficulty with memory.
After undergoing a CT and MRI scan, both confirmed that he had a large mass growing in his brain. On September 1st, it was determined to be glioblastoma, the most aggressive form of brain cancer.
On average, glioblastoma affects men and women ages 45 - 75 and carries a life expectancy of approximately 15 months from diagnosis. With few treatments and no cure, the statistics are grim.
From the day that he received his diagnosis, we gathered the best medical professionals around us to help Adam fight for his life.
Two weeks after his initial diagnosis, Adam underwent a full craniotomy at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto under the care of Dr. Sunit Das. Months of chemotherapy and radiation treatments followed at The Odette Cancer Centre at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre with Dr. James Perry and Dr. Arjun Sahgal as the team leads.
After the completion of his treatments, Adam returned to work in 2017 and enjoyed the professional challenges as well as camaraderie of his clients and colleagues again.
As expected but not as hoped, his cancer came back at the end of the summer of 2019 - almost to the day of his initial diagnosis. Adam returned to treatments again but inevitably succumbed to the disease on February 15, 2020.
We decided to create a fund that would hopefully raise a large sum of money to be distributed to charities focused on brain tumour programs.
The Adam Fanaki Brain Fund has benefited from the support of many individuals as well as Canadian business leaders including Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP as the lead donor, BMO Private Wealth, Borden Ladner Gervais LLP, Brian Facey and Julie Soloway, Nick and Nicki Perpick, Robert Ben of Thomson Rogers Lawyers, TORYS LLP, Huy Do, Tony di Domenico and FASKENS.
In its first year, our fund has raised over $145,000 and donated to many causes including:
We are also happy to have partnered with Students Advancing Brain Cancer Research (SABCR), a club led by students at McMaster University. SABCR is focused on raising awareness and funds for brain cancer research, through leading research events, fundraisers and initiatives that elevate the voices of brain cancer research professionals.
Some of the largest SABCR events include the Encephaloma case competition and the Research Symposium. Encephaloma is an annual competition where students diagnose and develop a treatment plan based on a brain cancer patient’s symptoms. In addition, the annual Research Symposium brings together neuro-oncology researchers and members of the community affected by brain cancer. The speakers share their experiences and new developments in the field of brain cancer research.
As our first year without Adam has now passed, we can reflect on our positive efforts to help others. This has helped us in our grief.
In an unprecedented year, we feel humbled and honoured to have had so many supporters champion our cause. We look forward to continuing our philanthropic work and continuing to raise brain cancer awareness.
Janet, Isobel and Sam Fanaki live in Toronto. Janet is the host and creator of the RESILIENT PEOPLE podcast. Isobel is in 4th year studying Biology and Sam is in 1st year of Life Sciences, both at McMaster University. To learn more about The Adam Fanaki Brain Fund, visit www.theadamfanakibrainfund.com or @theadamfanakibrainfund on Instagram and Facebook.