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Photography by Jeremy Kohm


Canada AM’s Health and Medical Expert


Marla has been medical consultant for CTV National News since 2003

Founding editor of ParentsCanada Magazine

Lectures given: 100


Wendy Freeman, President, CTV News

From Wendy Freeman

As told to Kate Daley

I first met Marla in 2001. At the time I was the executive producer of the CTV national news and anchor Sandie Rinaldo called me and said they were bringing in this doctor to do a segment on the show about flesh eating dis­ease. I remember watching that first night and thinking ‘Wow, she’s good.’ She was an amazing communicator and really connected with view­ers, taking those big medical terms and telling us how to understand them. Since then we’ve used her more and more—she’s the go-to doctor for Canadians across the country. We hear from our viewers all the time that they love her. She gets the message across.

Whenever a door closes for her she finds a way of opening a new one. Her very first appearance on Canada AM was because she lost a son at five and a half months to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. She was telling people about the Back to Sleep Campaign because she wanted people to learn from her heartbreak. She takes these tragedies and turns them into learning experiences for others.

I always say she’s all the “b” adjec­tives—she’s beyond brilliant, balanced, brassy, beautiful and the best, because she really is. We sometimes also joke that she’s breastless because she had both breasts re­moved after having breast cancer. She wrote a book about her breast cancer struggle, entitled Life in the Balance, which became a best seller. She shared really intimate stories in her book. She gave personal details about how she felt about deciding to have surgery to remove both of her breasts and how she and her family coped. Not many people would do that. She also did a documentary on her breast cancer for W5 called Run Your Own Race, which won some big awards in the United States, such as the Columbus International Film and Video Award and an award at the New York Film Festival. She always talks about how she’s not a survivor, she’s a thriver. I love that she says that and it’s so true—she’s a thriver.

What you see is what you get, even on TV. People see her as warm and friendly and smart and she’s like that in person. She’s an amazing multi-tasker. She runs a practice, she writes for the blog, she ap­pears on TV on Dr. Marla & Friends, she sits on multiple boards, including the Canadian Foundation for Women and Health. I don’t know how she does it. She can be writing the blog for while she’s between patients, while she’s writing a book.

What makes her different? She’s very driven and caring. A lot of the women I know are driven, but they are not as caring as her. When it comes to friends, family and col­leagues in need or crisis, she drops anything and everything.