In May of this year, it was announced that The Tragically Hip frontman, Gord Downie, had been diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive and terminal brain tumour. Shortly after this announcement, the band began their Man Machine Poem tour, what many believe to be their farewell tour, across Canada. Between the media coverage, the sold-out national tour, and the live broadcast of the final tour stop (CBC estimates reached 11.7 million people), have all raised awareness for glioblastoma and brain cancers in general.
As emphasized by Downie’s oncologist, Dr. James Perry, there is a stigma associated with any brain disorder which can affect the patient’s mood, personality, behaviour, and cognition. In addition to the awareness raised around the stigma experienced by patients with brain disorders, this tour has the potential to transform a field of medicine that has not experienced many advances. Although Dr. Perry emphasizes that treatments are safer and better now, there haven’t been any major advances in terms of survival. The Gord Downie Fund for Brain Cancer Research at the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto has received $265,000 so far in donations from fans worldwide, and this number is expected to continue growing. It is hoped that these funds, through the financing of a brain cancer ‘incubator’, can aid in breakthroughs in the treatment of neurological disorders, such as cancer, dementia and stroke.