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In Decoding Annie Parker, Helen Hunt plays Dr. Mary-Claire King, while Samantha Morton (inset, with Aaron Paul) takes the role of Annie Parker.


A new film tells the story behind a breakthrough in breast cancer treatment that had its origins in Toronto.

Annie Parker was only 29 years old when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, a disease that had taken the life of her mother and her sister. She endured and survived. Nine years later, Annie, a patient at Sunnybrook, was diagnosed with third-stage ovarian cancer. Again, she beat the odds. A third strike with cancer hit when doctors found a tumour on her liver. Each diagnosis fuelled her with an anger and determination to beat what she describes as a "hideous disease."

Annie had a suspicion that the risk of developing cancer was more than by chance. Driven by the need for answers, her path led her to geneticist Mary-Claire King, who at the time was pioneering DNA research on breast and ovarian cancers.

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Their real-life story is the inspiration behind a touching film (and related book), Decoding Annie Parker. Portrayed by Samantha Morton and Helen Hunt, Annie and Mary-Claire's journey through the lab and life shows that art is often inspired by true events. Directed by Steven Bernstein, the film, due for release in May, follows the growing bond these women share on the road to the discovery of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. This breakthrough would forever change the understanding of breast and ovarian cancer risk internationally.

Decoding Annie Parker is a moving tribute to the power of two women: one hoping to change her life, and the other hoping to change the world.

This content was produced by The Globe and Mail's advertising department, in consultation with Sunnybrook. The Globe's editorial department was not involved in its creation.

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