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Janet Fanaki with her children Isobel and Sam at their Toronto home on Aug. 28, 2021.

Tijana Martin/The Globe and Mail

The organizers: Janet, Isobel and Sam Fanaki

The pitch: Raising $155,000 and climbing

The causes: Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada, St. Michael’s Hospital

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Adam Fanaki was at the top of his profession in 2016 when he started feeling out of sorts and had trouble remembering things.

Doctors thought the 47-year-old Toronto lawyer had had a ministroke and they prescribed baby Aspirin. When the symptoms persisted, Mr. Fanaki pushed for a computerized tomography or CT scan. “He called me afterwards and he said they found something and they are going to send me for an MRI,” recalled Mr. Fanaki’s wife, Janet. “That’s never good news.”

Further tests revealed that Mr. Fanaki had glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer. He had surgery to remove a tumour but doctors gave him 15 months to live.

Mr. Fanaki died on Feb. 15, 2020. “We were such a close family and not having Adam here, the void was huge,” said Ms. Fanaki, who is 52.

While writing Mr. Fanaki’s obituary, Ms. Fanaki and the couple’s children – Isobel, 22, and Sam, who is 19 – thought about suggesting a charity for donations. Instead they decided to do something to honour Mr. Fanaki and support families living with brain cancer. They launched the Adam Fanaki Brain Fund and they’ve raised more than $155,000 so far. The proceeds have come from an online auction as well as gifts from Mr. Fanaki’s colleagues at Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP and other sponsors.

The money has supported projects at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada and St. Michael’s Hospital. The projects include online support group meetings, a handbook for cancer patients and caregivers, and a comfort fund for brain cancer patients in need.

Working on the fund has helped the family cope with their grief and they plan to raise more money. “Having something positive to focus on really helped me to get me through and to be strong for my kids,” Ms. Fanaki said. She added that Mr. Fanaki’s final words to his family were; “Live your lives. Have fun. Just do what you want to do in life.”

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