Montreal pediatric ER physician who battled breast cancer is founder of ‘More Than a Cure’

"You know her, you are her, or you could be her. I just didn't know that that would be me" says Dr. Tamara Gafoor, Montreal pediatric ER physician and founder of More Than a Cure, after her own breast cancer battle. Fariha Naqvi-Mohamed reports.

Dr. Tamara (Tammy) Angela Gafoor was diagnosed with breast cancer in April 2022.

Despite being a pediatric ER physician at Montreal’s Children’s Hospital, she never thought she would be one in eight women who are diagnosed with breast cancer.

“You know her, you are her, or you could be her. I just didn’t know that that would be me one day,” Gafoor said.

“It is not a disease that affects every woman equally. If you are a Black woman living with breast cancer, you are 41 per cent more likely to die of this disease than your Caucasian counterparts.”

Thankfully, she was one of the fortunate ones who survived. But not before learning a thing or two about the challenges so many women from marginalized communities face while battling cancer.

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Dr. Tamara Gafoor working as a pediatric ER physician at the Montreal Children’s Hospital (Fariha Naqvi-Mohamed, CityNews)

“I found the lump and everything changed. I had to do 20 rounds of radiation, six rounds of chemotherapy and surgery,” shard Gafoor. “And then I was also on immunotherapy for a year. I was surrounded by so much love. I have the most incredible partner, Dr. Olumide Adeleye, who was with me throughout the entire journey. My family, my friends.

“I said after I was going to be better, and I believed I was going to be better, and thank goodness I can say I’m cured. And I was going to help make it better for other women who were going through it.”

That led her to creating “More Than a Cure” (MTAC), a non-profit organization committed to empowering underprivileged and underserved women fighting breast cancer.

“I was going through my journey, I realized just how privileged I was in terms of the family,” she said. “Like I said, my husband, the friends, the support. I didn’t go to one appointment by myself. There was always someone there to hold my hand, to being in the medical field myself, and so being connected to the different medical professionals who could help me, even my understanding of the disease. And so the idea really came because I said, you know what? We are going to need to do something about this.”

And that is just what she did.

“In Canada, in Quebec, we provide the basics. You get your chemotherapy, you get your radiation, you get your surgery, you will get all of that handled. But there is so much about breast cancer, so much of people’s lives that are affected with breast cancer, that they don’t get these, the treatments aren’t available. Things like transport to and from your appointments. There were days I was at the hospital every single day. So being able to provide these transport for these women to and from. Being able to provide cold caps for these women who can’t afford it, who would want to keep their hair. Being able to have the occupational therapy and the physiotherapy that helps with the healing post-surgery. It’s not all covered or easily accessible to women. And so it was all of these things that we decided to do.

“So together with 16 outstanding incredible women who are on the board of directors, we came together and More Than a Cure was founded. The disease that, because there is such a huge financial toxicity associated with it, and I use the word toxicity because it is exactly that, the costs associated with breast cancer can approach $800 to $1,000 a month in addition to what is covered here in Canada. And we are very lucky for that. But it costs a lot. And so there are some women who are asking themselves, can I afford to survive? And that was really just not a question that I could allow to exist. And it’s something that we needed to do something about.”

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Dr Tamara Gafoor undergoing treatment for breast cancer in 2022 (Submitted by: Dr. Tamara Gafoor)

Dr. Gafoor’s surgical physician Dr. Stephanie Wong, who is now on the MTAC board, recommended cold cap therapy to her.

“As a young woman going through breast cancer, it is a completely different experience for me, one of the hugest things that I kept saying is that I need to be able to maintain my identity,” Gafoor said. “I don’t want to walk into a room and have people, I didn’t want pity. Support I could handle. I didn’t want pity. And one of that huge things for me was being able to keep my hair. And so there is this cold cap therapy connected with me with this company that sends you the caps. You freeze your hair to minus 30 degrees. And yes, it is absolutely as cold as it sounds to be able to freeze the follicles so that less chemotherapy gets to the ends of the hair and you’re able to keep your hair. So I was able to keep 80 per cent of it. So I never went bald.

“And for our women warriors who do go bald and want to go bald, I say wear that with pride. For me, it was just something that I couldn’t do and was very grateful to have this therapy that allowed me to keep my hair.”

Dr. Gafoor shared that 11 per cent of women who are diagnosed with breast cancer and need chemotherapy refuse it because they don’t want to lose their hair.

“Women and their hair, it’s important. And this therapy has actually existed for about 30 years in Europe. It’s more recently being brought here, but it’s not really so known to the public.”

For more information on More Than A Cure, visit their website,

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