Joe Finley Centre Opens

Joe’s Team Triathlon is proof that one man’s dream can accomplish so much.  It was the dream of Joe Finley, a man who had the misfortunate to be diagnosed with nasal pharyngeal cancer, but he turned that diagnosis into a hugely positive initiative that will make a difference in the lives of head and neck cancer patients for decades to come.

The Joe Finley Centre opened at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre on Thursday, March 26 thanks to the dedication of thousands of weekend warriors who raised the funds needed to establish a world-class cancer research centre focused on head and neck cancers—the same type of cancer that stole away the event’s namesake.  In just eight years, Joe’s Team has raised more than $10.5 million of critical cancer research. 
Many of those warriors were on hand as the ribbon to the new Centre was cut and everyone was able to enjoy the photos celebrating Joe and the event that lined the walls floor to ceiling.

Cara Finley, Joe’s wife, gave the opening remarks for the evening, with Dr. Mary Gospodarowicz, Medical Director for the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and Dr. Fei-Fei Liu, Head of the Centre’s Radiation Medicine Program delivering remarks on the tremendous impact Joe and his Team have already had on head and neck cancer research, and much more planned with the establishment of the Joe Finley Centre.

“The launch of the Joe Finley Centre is a momentous milestone for all of us,” said Dr. Liu. “This was Joe Finley’s dream, to make a difference, to help other patients with head and neck cancers. This was our dream, to create a Centre of Excellence for Head and Neck Cancer Research, which will serve as a magnet to attract the best scientists and clinicians to The Princess Margaret, and expedite research to design individualized therapies to improve outcome for head and neck cancer patients, both at The Princess Margaret as well as around the world. The creation of this centre was the culmination of the deep commitment by Joe, Cara Finley, and their children Michael and Megan, the immense generosity of donors and the thousands of participants in Joe’s Team through the years. Thank you to all for helping us achieve this remarkable milestone, as we all work towards the vision of creating a future of personalized head and neck cancer therapy with no toxicity.”

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Joe’s Team was created when Joe Finley, who was diagnosed with nasal pharyngeal cancer in August 2004, approached The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation with the dream of creating a fundraising triathlon/duathlon. The goal of the event was simple: to achieve personal success while raising money to help conquer cancer. In its inaugural year, Joe inspired over 230 people to compete as Joe’s Team in the Gravenhurst Triathlon. A staggering 99% of the participants had never before taken part in a triathlon. After almost three years of invasive chemo, radiation and lung surgery, and just ten days after his latest round of chemotherapy, Joe Finley crossed the finish line among his family and friends. The next year, Joe created his own triathlon event at Lake Joseph in Muskoka.
“Joe’s Team is an event that will literally change your life and the lives of others,” Joe stated regarding his event whose registrants in this extraordinary day of swimming, biking and running are able to participate in the triathlon/duathlon individually or as part of a relay team. “It’s difficult to explain the overwhelming feeling you get when you finish the race. If I could bottle up that feeling and give it to people, they would all participate.”
All participants have reached two victories: the individual triumph that waits at the finish line, and the community triumph of supporting cancer research at The Princess Margaret.
Joe lost his battle with cancer in October 2010, but his mission lives on, carried by his wife Cara, his family and his many friends, who have been determined to expand Joe’s Team in order to support head and neck cancer research at The Princess Margaret. Joe’s Team has become one of Canada’s most successful grassroots fundraising initiatives. Because of the $10.5 million raised for head and neck cancer research over the eight years of Joe’s Team, the Head and Neck Cancer Team at The Princess Margaret has grown from four to more than 80 clinicians and researchers.

Cara Finley is extremely proud of what her husband began and his continued legacy. “Every year, I’m amazed and humbled by how such a small group of people can do so much,” she said. “It’s a big ask for people to drive to Muskoka, give up a Saturday during the summer and, on top of that, fundraise. But highly motivated, altruistic participants and volunteers are always there supporting Joe’s Team.”  

The hospital’s physicians, researchers, patients and their families are profoundly grateful for what the triathlon team has achieved – their lives have been changed by Joe’s Team and the groundbreaking discoveries it supports. Now, there will be a dedicated centre for head and neck cancer research on the seventh floor of The Princess Margaret and named after the man whose dream started it all.
“We are immensely proud of what Joe Finley’s dream and determination has created,” stated Paul Alofs, President & CEO of The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation. “Joe was incredibly inspiring, and through the exhaustive work of his wife Cara, his children and his friends, his legacy will live on in a most remarkable way, helping us conquer head and neck cancers at the new centre named after him: the Joe Finley Centre.”
Joe’s Team Triathlon attracts a wide range of participants, from people trying a 750m swim - 20km ride - 5km run for the first time, to seasoned triathletes. This year, Joe’s Team is dedicated to supporting the internationally recognized researchers and clinicians who will now be based at the Joe Finley Centre.
The dreams of one man will now establish the Joe Finley Centre; a fitting tribute to a remarkable man and an extraordinary resource that will embody the Joe’s Team motto: Cancer be beaten.

For more information on Joe’s Team, to participate as an individual in the triathlon or duathlon, or to join a relay team, please visit