Together, Heading for a Cure!

Together, Heading for a Cure!

For Gary Evjen and Karen Kowalenko-Evjen, Heading for a Cure Music Night is all about supporting brain tumour patients, survivors and their families – a community of loved ones the couple are proud to call friends.

Over the past four years, the couple has partnered with friends they’ve made at the Saskatoon Brain Tumour Support Group to host the annual Heading for a Cure Music Night, a fun evening of country, folk, rock and jazz music. This year, proceeds from the event are directed to the Saskatoon Spring Sprint. “It’s a true community event,” explains Gary. “We work as a group to pull this thing together and, because of our teamwork and the amazing supporters in our area, we’ve been able to raise about $13,000 for brain tumour programs.”

It’s a cause close to the Evjens’ hearts, as Gary himself is a brain tumour survivor.

In early 2005 Gary’s health took a downward turn. Months of fatigue, mood changes and memory loss were eventually explained, much to the couple’s relief: Gary was diagnosed with a malignant Grade III anaplastic mixed oligoastrocytoma. Gary recalls feeling both shocked and overjoyed to finally have an explanation for what he had been experiencing. “I looked at the doctors and said, ‘Thank you. Now what do we do?’”

Almost ten years later, after five surgeries and 30 rounds of radiation, Gary is tumour free. Throughout those challenging times, the couple never lost hope for a brighter future. Today, Gary and Karen share their optimism and positive attitude as volunteers with the Saskatoon group and as the lead organizers for Heading for a Cure. The Evjens say it was important for them to have a support network throughout their brain tumour journey, and hosting the yearly music night is a way to pay it forward. “We’re always working at it, spreading the word about brain tumours. We feel like there’s always more to be done and want to help in any way we can,” adds Gary. “It’s so important for people to know there is support and love out there for them.”

The 2014 Heading for a Cure Music Night was a big success. More than 120 people attended the February event (despite a blizzard!) and almost $2,500 was raised for the local Spring Sprint and Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada. Reflecting on this year’s Heading for a Cure, Gary says it’s the joy felt at the event that makes it something special. “Everyone’s just so happy at the music night. It really is a true community event and something we can all feel proud of.”

If you would like to start your own Community Event to benefit the Canadian brain tumour community, please contact Eileen Quigg at 1-800-265-5106 or

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Story posted: February 2014

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