An evening in the life of a 2013 Woman of Distinction


No wonder she looks so happy

Dr. Ophira Ginsburg smiles for the camera at the 2013 Women of Distinction awards.

In her own words, 2013 Woman of Distinction award winner Dr. Ophira Ginsburg recounts her preparation for the awards ceremony on May 2, 2013 – a night she’ll always remember.

The big day was finally here – the YWCA Toronto Women of Distinction Awards! In anticipation of an exciting afternoon and evening ahead, I had switched my usual Thursday clinic to Wednesday so I’d have the whole day to mentally (and physically) prepare.  Although I give many lectures about cancer to health care providers, scientists and the public, I had never been invited to speak at an event like this one. This award would surely be a one-time thing and I didn’t want to mess it up or move through it in a sleep-deprived fog, so I tried to get a good night’s sleep the night before.

When I woke that day, I was pleasantly surprised to find I felt refreshed. Somehow I managed to be fairly productive in the morning, and kept my work limited to anything that did not require intense focus. Before long, my typical considerations for a Thursday, such as “How many patients do I have? Are there any grant or publication deadlines looming?” were easily replaced with: “What should I wear?” and “How high should my heels be, to render my outfit dressy enough for the occasion, but not so high that I risk teetering or tripping en route to the podium?”

Soon enough I arrived at the Metro Convention Centre, where the atmosphere felt very much like something special was about to happen. I had imagined many times what it would be like, but never expected this nerve-wracking, what-am-I-doing-here feeling to be replaced by equal measures gratitude, joy and sheer fun! I can’t say enough good things about that incredible night. I was struck by the degree of preparation that must have gone into it– every detail, all the coordination required to make things run smoothly. And that’s without tackling the task of getting so many dynamic and busy women into the same room at the same time!

The convention centre hall was literally transformed into a gorgeous, funky venue: white couches, high rectangular white tables, amazing delights at the many food stations, great music…just the right ambiance for a perfect evening! Much mingling and fun ensued as family and friends old and new joined together to share a toast in honour of the occasion, and the incredible work the YWCA Toronto does each and every day. This fabulous reception was followed by a picture-perfect awards ceremony emceed by the multi-talented, charming, and as it turned out, very funny CBC host Anne Marie Mediwake. Between the videos, presentations, and very moving acceptance speeches (of which, naturally mine remains a total blur) was a heart-stopping performance by the incomparable Jully Black. Afterwards, we kicked up our heels, grabbed a glass of something festive and enjoyed the after-glow with great friends, family, and colleagues.

It was surely a very special night I will always remember.