Dr. Mark Levine, MD, MSc, FRCP(C) Professor
Department of Oncology, McMaster University
BRIGHT Run Executive Member
One of the founders of the BRIGHT Run, Mark Levine was invested in the Order of Canada in 2017 for “his contributions as an oncologist, researcher and clinician who has developed a number of new treatment regimens that have become the Canadian standard in clinical practice.”
With a career spanning more than 35 years, Mark saw in his clinics that for many breast cancer patients, participating in an organized run was part of their healing Journey. After treatment left them weakened physically and emotionally, Mark realized that training for and participating in such an event was empowering and exhilarating for patients.
He believed a local event was important because it would raise funds for breast cancer research in Hamilton. Although he has retired from clinical practice, Mark remains an active member of the BRIGHT Run executive committee and writes for the BRIGHT Run’s monthly eNewsletter.
Nancy McMillan, MBA, Banker (retired)
BRIGHT Run Event Chair
Nancy McMillan is a retired banking professional, having spent 33 years in branch and private banking. She is also a breast cancer survivor, “graduating“ from what she calls the Juravinski Cancer Centre breast cancer survivor (BCS) program in 2008.
Nancy has participated in every BRIGHT Run since the first one in 2008. Her team, McMillan’s Madcaps, is consistently one of the top-ranked fundraising teams.
As the BRIGHT Run’s event chair, Nancy is a whirlwind of activity and ideas. She works hard to make the BRIGHT Run the best experience it can be for participants, volunteers and community partners.
In 2013, Nancy was named a Hamilton Woman of Distinction in recognition of her volunteer involvement with the BRIGHT Run.
Nancy says chairing the BRIGHT Run is “a real honour for me and an opportunity to pursue my true passion. BRIGHT Run energy is my jet fuel.”
Kathie Ward, Registered Nurse (retired)
BRIGHT Run Event Day Coordinator
Kathie Ward is one of the BRIGHT Run’s founders.
She is registered nurse who retired in 2018 after 40 years, the last 13 or so as a member of the breast disease site team at the Juravinski Cancer Centre (JCC).
She is also a breast cancer survivor who says her 1998 diagnosis changed her life. She formed intense lifelong friendships after joining a dragon boat team of breast cancer survivors. And after years of intensive care nursing, she moved to the JCC, caring for cancer patients every day.
Those patients wanted a local event, a way to pay it forward to the cancer centre where they received treatment.
“They wanted an event in our city, rather than having to go elsewhere to do walks and fundraising,” Kathie said. “That’s how it started.”
Kathie sees the BRIGHT Run as her extended family and she loves the electric atmosphere of event day.
Lee Prokaska, MA (Journalism), Journalist (retired)
BRIGHT Run eNewsletter Coordinator
Lee Prokaska retired from The Hamilton Spectator in 2015, after 35 years as a reporter, editor and editorial writer.
She is also a breast cancer survivor who participated in the first BRIGHT Run, which took place almost three years after she finished her breast cancer treatment.
Retirement gave Lee the opportunity to become more involved in the BRIGHT Run, taking on responsibility for the content of the BRIGHT Run’s eNewsletter. She also writes about the BRIGHT Run and its people for area newspapers and helps BRIGHT Run members write speeches, articles and letters.
More recently, Lee became the coordinator of the BRIGHT Run’s successful annual silent auction, as well as putting together gift baskets for the penny sale.
“I love the BRIGHT Run’s sense of community, its welcoming spirit and its commitment to making a difference,”
Lise Diebel, Health Promotions/Communications
BRIGHT Run Advertising, Marketing and Communications Coordinator
Lise Diebel works for the Regional Cancer Program, promoting the province’s three organized cancer screening programs – the Ontario Breast Screening Program (OBSP), Ontario Cervical Screening Program (OCSP) and Colon Cancer Check.
She got involved in the BRIGHT Run in 2017 after being introduced to Event Chair Nancy McMillan through a mutual friend.
Lise chairs the BRIGHT Run’s advertising, marketing and communications committee, bringing her years of media experience and her communications expertise to the role.
She has a close family member who had breast cancer, which was caught through a mammogram and successfully treated. Lise has strong feelings about the BRIGHT Run:
“It’s inspiring to be part of something so positive and impactful. The BRIGHT Run is an easy event to get behind, especially considering that ALL funds raised by participants go entirely to local breast cancer research.”
Michele Cardoso, BSc, MRT (T), Clinical Special Radiation Therapy
BRIGHT Run Sponsorship Coordinator
Michele Cardoso is a clinical specialist radiation therapist at Juravinski Cancer Centre (JCC) and has worked at Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) for 16 years.
Michele is also a recipient of the Pat Mandy Diversity Award, an annual award that honours an employee who embodies the HHS values of respect, caring, innovation and accountability.
Her involvement in the BRIGHT Run began several years ago when one of her colleagues encouraged her to participate. Once she experienced the BRIGHT Run for herself, she jumped right in, joining the executive committee and the sponsorship committee.
Michele see the BRIGHT Run as “a celebration of the tenacity of the human spirit, our ability to triumph, to love and to remember.
“And through this feeling of incredible connection and strength we are also raising awareness and funds towards vital research. It is amazing to see the dollars at work at the JCC, knowing our researchers are dedicated to improving lives of breast cancer patients.”
Vanessa Sheppard, Senior Development Officer
BRIGHT Run Teams Coordinator
Vanessa is a senior development officer with the Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre Foundation and has been the foundation’s representative on the BRIGHT Run Executive Committee since 2014.
In that capacity, Vanessa handles all the elements of registration for the BRIGHT Run throughout the year and on event day.
She has also taken on additional responsibilities on a volunteer basis as our new Teams Coordinator.
Vanessa’s view of the BRIGHT Run:
“The BRIGHT Run’s electric and positive atmosphere is truly contagious and gives so many the ability to bring change. Whether they create or join a team, support a team, volunteer their time or a mixture of everything, together we can and are making a difference, a difference we can see right here in our own community at our own cancer centre. “
I first met Nancy through work, I’m the Sales and Marketing Coordinator at Allegra here in Hamilton. We run a program called FootPRINT Fund which helps eligible nonprofit organizations enhance their image and expand their services, utilizing Allegra’s marketing and print services. When I started at Allegra in 2012 I was in charge of running FootPRINT Fund and I ran the program through the 2015 season. FootPRINT Fund has awarded BRIGHT Run a number of times.
After working with Nancy on FootPRINT projects for a few years and seeing just how passionate she is about the BRIGHT Run I asked how I could help out and what I could do as a volunteer with the BRIGHT Run. Nancy named me the Volunteer Coordinator. Once I started attending board meetings it was brought to my attention that we needed someone to help out with the E-newsletter and I agreed to help out with that as well, with my background in Marketing and Advertising from Mohawk College I figured it would be a natural fit. Breast cancer, unfortunately, runs in my family and after watching my grandmother beat it I just want to do my part to help raise awareness and money for research.
Chris Gravelle, RN, retired from SEHC Niagara Palliative Care.
I have been involved in BRIGHT since the beginning as a walker; then increased my activities to volunteer, team captain and Executive Committee Member. It gives me great warm fuzzy feeling to see all the folks at the walks being thankful, happy, enthusiastic, thankful, paying back and hopeful for the future without breast cancer.
Over the years, I have had the privilege and honor to be part of the journey for many clients and their families during this challenge. I continue to give with my heart to make a difference in the lives of those I meet. It is not what I say but how I make them feel when being with them.
Dr. Bindi Dhesy, Medical Oncologist MD,MSc, FRCPC
Congratulations to BRIGHT Run executive member Dr. Bindi Dhesy, who was named the 2015 Outstanding Clinical Teacher of the Year in Medical Oncology. The award was presented at the 2015 Annual Meeting at the Ancaster Mill.
In October, Bindi, who has been involved in the BRIGHT Run since it was “a twinkle in our eyes,” was also appointed at Associate Chair, Education in the Department of Oncology. In making the appointment, department chair Dr. Mark Levine noted that as the Department Education Coordinator since 2012, Bindi “has been a tireless advocate for education.”
In her capacity as the Department Education Coordinator, Bindi was deeply involved in all areas of education for faculty and has worked to support and develop the postgraduate and fellowships programs. Recently, she initiated a strategic plan in education for the department, which will be designed to ensure that the diversity and strength in Oncology is well represented within the department, the cancer program and the faculty.
Bindi has been involved in the BRIGHT Run from the beginning, recognizing the importance of the event’s support for breast cancer research locally.
“Funds raised through the run are critical in funding some of the pivotal initial investigations that go on to form the basis for larger grant applications nationally.”
Bindi and her family are part of the Cancer Busters team and have participated since year one. Many of the Dhesy family members travel from across the GTA to help support the Juravinski Cancer Centre.
James MacRae, President, Entrevista Ltd.
My name is James. I’m an event planner working mostly in oncology, and a dad. I’ve been involved with BRIGHT since its beginnings and my role has been to help make the vision for the day into a reality.
To witness the courage and commitment of everyone involved with BRIGHT – rain and shine – is a privilege and helps remind me of what is really important daily.
David Balsdon, Senior Vice President of Influence Marketing, Event Day Coordinator
David Balsdon, Senior Vice President of Mississauga-based Influence Marketing, has been involved in the BRIGHT Run for about a decade as a participant.
A Waterdown resident, he has been married to Lisa for 25 years and they have two daughters, both of whom attend McMaster University.
Lisa, a radiation therapist at the Juravinski Cancer Centre, is also a breast cancer survivor and she and David are members of the Linear Accelerator team.
A long-time community volunteer and event organizer, David recently joined the executive committee to lead the event day planning and execution process.
I am able to leverage my experience as a marketing executive and avid runner to help create an event that brings our community together and raises funds for this amazing cause. I am proud to be associated with the BRIGHT Run and everything is stands for.