Valentines Photo Booth Collage
Staff at Toronto Western and Toronto General hospitals pose for photos at a Valentine's Day photo booth. (Photos: UHN)

Snapping the love of TeamUHN

Love was in the air on Valentine's Day at Toronto Western and Toronto General hospitals.

Staff decked out in heart-shaped accessories and "Snapped the Love" in a Valentine's Day themed photo booth, organized by Acute Care Programs, and received Polaroid keepsakes and candies for them and their teams.

Apart from socializing and posing for their snap shots, UHN staff also took the time to recognize and appreciate the love and support they receive from their team members. Among the comments:

"I'm grateful for the unconditional love we share in our team," wrote Shy Cousins, UHN Transportation.

"I'm happy to be a part of [nursing unit] 9A, it's the best team ever!" wrote personal support worker Sheila Calina.

"I'm very grateful for my ED family, we always stick together, even during the tough times and make each other smile," wrote social worker Sylvia Gomes.

Four masked women
Jules Whish, (third from left), designed and printed Valentine's Day cards for fellow patients at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre to give to their clinicians to express their gratitude. (Photo: UHN)

Spreading love and joy 'for the incredible care' at the Princess Margaret

A patient came up with the idea to give back to the wonderful clinicians at the Princess Margaret for Valentine's Day.

With the help of the Patient Experience Team, Jules Whish designed and printed various Valentine's Day cards for patients to give to their clinicians as a means of expressing their appreciation and gratitude.

"I am so grateful for the incredible care I receive at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, and wanted to do something special for Valentine's Day to spread the love and joy," says Jules, a Stage 4 cholangiocarcinoma patient.

Two stations were set up at both entrances on the ground floor, with volunteers successfully ensuring patients had the opportunity to distribute the cards, along with mini bags of Hershey's Kisses, to their respective health care workers.

"This is something I often did in my career working in company culture and employee engagement, so I thought it would be awesome to bring it to Princess Margaret Cancer Centre," says Jules.

"The Patient Experience Team helped me bring my idea to life, and it was incredible seeing first-hand how excited patients and caregivers were to send these to one another."

If you are a patient at the Princess Margaret and have any suggestions for how to improve the patient experience, please feel free to submit your ideas to

Margaret Santos
Margaret Santos, an outpatient at Toronto Rehab's Augmentative and Alternative Clinic, holds a children's book she wrote about maintaining a positive attitude. The book is available for purchase on Amazon. (Photo: UHN)

Bickle patient authors kids' book: 'There's always something to be grateful for'

Margaret Santos has practiced gratitude for as long as she can remember.

This positive outlook is what inspired her to write "An Attitude of Gratitude," a children's book sharing the message that being grateful despite your circumstances is the best and only attitude to have.

Margaret, an outpatient at Toronto Rehab's Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Clinic and long-term care resident, lives with a rare Morquio B syndrome rheumatoid arthritis. She is non-verbal and communicates with a type-and-talk device, supplied by AAC.

"I have contractions of my hands, I face problems with my neck, and I also have to contend with scoliosis of the spine," says Margaret. "But despite having all those things I still managed to write a charming little children's book with a positive message."

Although she faces many complications on a daily basis, Margaret finds something to be grateful for every day, giving thanks and praise for the little things life has to offer.

"I know that having gratitude fosters compassion and empathy," she says. "Whether it's the sun shining outside or how much dessert I get at dinner at my long-term care home, there's always something to be grateful for."

Margaret was inspired to write her book after noticing that some people at her long-term care residence were struggling to show appreciation to caregivers.

With "An Attitude of Gratitude," Margaret also hopes to spread appreciation for the thought and dedicated caregivers in her long-term care home, and other long-term care homes across Canada.

Riney Foundation
"There is no time to waste in the pursuit of better understanding, treatment and cures for this cancer," Rodger Riney says of the donation from the Paula and Rodger Riney Foundation to the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre for multiple myeloma research. (Photo: Paula and Rodger Riney Foundation)

$9.2-million donation to the Princess Margaret for multiple myeloma research

Paula and Rodger Riney, through the Paula and Rodger Riney Foundation, have donated $9.2 million to the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre to support multiple myeloma research.

The grant is the first in Canada from the Paula and Rodger Riney Foundation, which is based in the U.S., and will fund four projects with potential clinical impact using novel therapies being developed at the Princess Margaret.

Multiple myeloma is a blood cancer caused when abnormal plasma cells in the bone marrow proliferate. Survival outcomes in this cancer have improved substantially over the past decade due to the advent of new therapeutics.

The Princess Margaret has been at the forefront of these developments. Nevertheless, a cure remains elusive and drug-related toxicities continue to take a toll on patients, underscoring the need for more innovative therapies.

"The very generous commitment of the Paula and Rodger Riney Foundation will make an incalculable difference in advancing research in our core strengths including diagnostics, antibody treatment, immunotherapies and cell-free genomics," says Dr.Keith Stewart, Director of the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and Vice President Cancer at UHN.

Rodger Riney, who is based in St. Louis, Mo., said his own experience with myeloma motivated him to support organizations at the leading edge of research.

"There is no time to waste in the pursuit of better understanding, treatment and cures for this cancer," he says. "We applaud the Princess Margaret for its innovative work in this field which will save patients' lives and hope our gift will inspire others."

Dr.Miyo Yamashita, President and CEO of the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation, called the gift, "generous, unprecedented and transformational.

"We share Rodger and Paula's vision of a future where multiple myeloma patients no longer face an incurable disease. Only through these global partnerships will we achieve this. Cancer knows no borders."

The Princess Margaret has one of the largest multiple myeloma programs worldwide and runs more than 40 myeloma clinical trials every year. It also conducts 300 stem cell transplants for myeloma patients annually.

Scientists at the Princess Margaret are embarking on promising studies with antibody-based NK cell and T-cell receptor targeted immunotherapies, radiation-labeled antibody theranostic agents, as well as new small molecule-based approaches.

An estimated 4,000 Canadians were diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2022, and an estimated 1,650 Canadians died from this cancer.

Conquer Cancer Bike Team
(L to R) Peter Heimler, longtime rider and Ride to Conquer Cancer Team Captain for KPMG Canada, Janet Bannister, 2023 Honourary Chair, and Robyn Goldman, Ride to Conquer Cancer participant and cancer survivor, at the World Cancer Day event in the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. (Photo: UHN)

Ride to Conquer Cancer puts a spin on closing the gap in cancer care on World Cancer Day

Cancer affects people of every age, gender, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status all over the world.

Unfortunately, barriers exist, both locally and globally, in ensuring equal access to high-quality cancer care.

Collaboration is key in making advancements against cancer and ensuring equal access to care that positively impacts patient outcomes, which is why countries around the world came together on Feb. 4 for World Cancer Day to "Close the Care Gap."

There's power in collectively generating awareness, raising funds for novel research that could make the once seemingly impossible possible, and sharing knowledge about the latest research discoveries with partners around the world. Each of these steps will help us eliminate the disparities in access to care.

In support of World Cancer Day, the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation held a special event at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre that saw cancer survivors, researchers, and Princess Margaret team members spin for three hours in honour of those touched by cancer and to encourage new and returning riders to register for the Ride to Conquer Cancer taking place June 10 and 11.

The Ride, which sees cyclists of all levels ride from Toronto to Niagara Falls, is the largest in-person charitable cycling event in Canada. The annual event has raised more than $250 million for research led by the world-renowned researchers at the Princess Margaret – one of the top five cancer research centres in the world – that's working to close the care gap.

Robyn Goldman, Ride to Conquer Cancer participant and cancer survivor, participated in the special event. After discovering a marble sized lump in her left breast, Robyn was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer – a form of cancer with limited treatment options and high risk of recurrence – at the young age of 33 in 2021.

Robyn had the intention of trying to keep life as normal as possible: "I added cancer to my plate. I didn't let it consume me."

Robyn took part in The Ride twice prior to her diagnosis. She rode again in 2022, while undergoing active radiation treatment the day before and after the event.

"While you're riding with a team or a solo rider, it's you – you are on the bike," she says. "But you are doing it with thousands of other people. The people that I met that helped me, pushed me, motivated me, that you eat lunch with, that you camp beside – it doesn't matter what team you're on, you're all there together.

"Whether you're a rider, a volunteer, or standing on the side with a sign – there are so many ways to be a part of it."

To register or learn more about Robyn's story and "Why We Ride", visit

TG Card Collage
Cards made by elementary school students in Toronto were distributed to health care workers and patients at Toronto General Hospital over the holiday season, showing appreciation and spreading joy. (Photo: UHN)

Students' handmade cards show appreciation, spread joy

Students from a Toronto elementary school proved the little things in life can have a big impact.

More than 100 cards handmade by students were sent to health care staff at Toronto General Hospital (TGH) during the holiday season, reminding them that their work is valued and appreciated.

The cards, which included kind and thoughtful messages, arrived during a time when many nurses and medical staff were spending time away from their own families.

"It reminded all of us that despite the sacrifices we make, the work we do each day is recognized and appreciated," says Charlee Flores, registered nurse for 13-Eaton South, General Internal Medicine at TGH.

The creative initiative was organized by a family member of a patient after noticing that the medical teams went above and beyond to protect the patient during a COVID-19 outbreak on their unit.

The family member, who works at the school, wanted to show her gratitude by engaging her students to create cards thanking health care workers for their service.

"I saw firsthand the exceptional care that doctors, nurses and other staff provided with both patience and compassion," says the patient's daughter, a teacher at the school. "I'm very grateful for the genuine care that they showed my dad while he was in the hospital.

"I had the idea to have my class make thank you cards for the health care workers. Everyone was more than happy to join in, and eventually the entire school created cards, even some in French!

"The students were so excited and touched by my story and understood the responsibilities, sacrifice and care that the health care workers showed my dad and the other patients." 

Some of the cards were also addressed to patients who were admitted to hospital during the holidays as a way to spread joy during an otherwise stressful time.

"There was a lot of positive emotions," says Thirisangi Thiruparanathan, Clinical Nurse Specialist at TGH. "It really touched our hearts because things like this don't happen often.

"These cards made staff and patients feel like they were truly seen and appreciated."

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