Guy Lafleur launches Be the MVP, a public awareness campaign against lung cancer

Guy Lafleur

In the face-off against lung cancer, early detection is key. That’s why Merck Canada and former hockey player Guy Lafleur are teaming up to launch Be the MVP, a new public awareness campaign marking Lung Cancer Awareness Month in November, with support from a network of Canadian lung health advocacy organizations including: Lung Cancer Canada, the Lung Health Foundation, L’Association pulmonaire du Québec, Coalition Priorité Cancer au Québec and the Canadian Lung Association. The campaign aims to empower Canadians to take charge of their health by learning the symptoms and risk factors of lung cancer, which can help to gain an advantage on the disease through earlier diagnosis.

Late-stage diagnosis a challenge for Canadians facing lung cancer

When former NHL player and hockey legend, Guy Lafleur, was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2019, fans and former teammates rallied in support, giving him strength in the fight against the disease. By lending his voice to the Be the MVPcampaign, Guy intends to extend the same support to those who may be at risk for lung cancer.

Guy Lafleur

“As they say, the best defence is a good offence, and it’s the same with your health. When I was diagnosed, it was completely unexpected. I didn’t think I was at risk, but now, I am incredibly grateful to my team of healthcare professionals and loved ones who have supported me through every step of this journey,” said Guy Lafleur. “I wanted to be a part of this campaign because I hope Canadians will hear my story and find the strength and courage to talk to their doctor if they’re at risk. That’s what I’m passionate about – getting more people aware of the symptoms and risk factors so they can talk to their doctor as soon as possible. This way they can get right to the game plan of their disease.” 

More Canadians are diagnosed with lung cancer than any other type of cancer,1 with over 20,000 estimated deaths in 20201 – more than the deaths caused by colorectal, pancreatic and breast cancer combined.2 In fact, half of lung cancer cases in Canada are diagnosed in stage 4.2 This can make lung cancer more difficult to treat, resulting in poor prognosis and one of the lowest survival rates of all types of cancer. 2

Early detection a possibility through patient empowerment

From smoking habits, to personal and family medical history, to exposure to chemicals, there are a number of contributing factors that may increase one’s risk of lung cancer.3 Early on, people with lung cancer may not have any symptoms, or they may not realize that their symptoms are caused by lung cancer. Knowing the symptoms, and when to speak up, could make the difference for Canadians and their loved ones. Some common symptoms4 associated with lung cancer include a cough that doesn’t go away, shortness of breath and constant chest pains that get worse when you breathe deeply. 

“The unfortunate reality for too many Canadians and their loved ones, is that lung cancer isn’t getting diagnosed early enough. We take our mission to save and improve lives very seriously, so we’re thrilled to partner with Mr. Lafleur, whose story resonates with so many, to help raise awareness,” said Marwan Akar, President and Managing Director, Merck Canada.

Visit to learn more about the symptoms and risk factors of lung cancer and to download a guide for speaking with your doctor. For more resources and information, visit: Lung Cancer CanadaThe Lung Health Foundationl’Association pulmonaire du QuébecCoalition Priorité Cancer au Québec and The Canadian Lung Association.


1Canadian Cancer Society, Lung Cancer Statistics: Available at: Accessed on September 29, 2021. 
2Canadian Cancer Society, Canadian Cancer Statistics: A 2020 special report on lung cancer. Available at: Accessed on September 29, 2021. 
3Canadian Cancer Society. Risk factors for lung cancer. Available at: Accessed September 29, 2021.
4Canadian Cancer Society. Symptoms of lung cancer. Available at: September 29, 2021.

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