Volunteering to Fight Cancer: A Family Affair

By Emily Strempler

“Everyone is going to be affected by cancer in some way,” says Juliet Greenberg, Brand Manager for Imaginet and volunteer member of Techapalooza’s marketing team, “It’s unfortunately part of our lives.”

Greenberg’s connection with Cancer Care Manitoba goes back to the life and work of her late father. A leading Medical Researcher in Immunology and Cancer Biology, Dr. Arnold Greenberg is best known for his discovery of naturally occurring immune-system cells that combat both viruses and cancer cells.

She describes him as a teacher at heart, with an enthusiasm for learning about the world and sharing that knowledge with others. He deeply enjoyed music and the arts, learning to play to clarinet and saxophone as a young man.

After directing the Manitoba Institute of Cell Biology for from 1988 to 2000, he took a special interest in expanding and improving the research facilities and resources available in the province. “He had an abundance of ideas,” Greenberg says, “forward thinking ideas at the time – about what a modern research lab could look like.”

When he was diagnosed with cancer, she recalls, he never let it keep him from his work. “He worked until a few days before he passed, which wasn’t any surprise to us.”

Greenberg describes him as a strong shoulder, using his knowledge to help the family understand his illness and treatment. At the same time, he looked toward the future. A lectureship fund through Cancer Care Manitoba was set up to ensure that high profile scientists and researchers could continue to come to Manitoba and share their knowledge in his absence.

The Arnold Greenberg Lectureship Fund accumulates enough money every few years to bring in an expert of international importance to speak to local students and scientists. In honour of his contributions, as a fundraiser and advocate as well as a scientist contributing to cancer research, Cancer Care Manitoba has dedicated an auditorium in his name.

Though Greenberg’s life has taken her in a different professional direction, away from science and medicine, she supports the work of the lectureship fund by attending and welcoming the speakers on behalf of the family. “Just being there is quite wonderful,” she says, “to see how many people fill the room, and how excited everyone is to have highly respected scientists come to Winnipeg.”

Greenberg was first introduced to Techapalooza through her work at Imaginet. As a venue through which to support Cancer Care Manitoba, Greenberg believes that there’s something special about Techapalooza’s drive and energy. “One might typically think IT is competitive,” Greenberg says, “I think the event speaks volumes about the community and the people involved. We have common cause.”

For Greenberg, volunteering with Techapalooza has been about more than working on an industry event. “This is a way to stay connected, not only to the cause but to him,” she says. “As soon as I met Annitta Stenning, I was reminded of how much my father has contributed. I thought, there’s no question, I’m going to be part of this now. It was instant.”

And to Greenberg, like many whose lives have been personally impacted by cancer, the cause is one of vital importance. This year, Greenberg is donating to Cancer Care in memory of another friend lost to cancer, Jory Groberman, a Canadian musician, entrepreneur, and Producer of NewMusicWest. “I worked alongside Jory on one of Vancouver’s best live new music events – he’d have a blast at Techapalooza if he were here.”

“Cancer Care is going to need a lot more money than they have now,” she notes, “The demographics have changed. They’re expecting an increase in costs. Unfortunately, this isn’t going to go away.”