Lung Cancer and the Canadian Cancer Society

In my earlier days advocating for people affected by lung cancer, I heard rumours that the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) didn’t give a fair amount of funds for lung cancer research. I did not know if that was true and believed it was important to find out. I determined to investigate, and learn how to advocate about this, but the Canadian Cancer Society seemed so big. I felt intimidated at first and did not know how to start.

Advocacy is relational work, and with encouragement from Chris Draft I worked on getting to know people at the CCS (and other organizations) and building relationships. People from the CCS reached out to me also and asked me to participate with them in various ways. They were interested and listened empathetically as I informed them about lung cancer.

For several years now I have been working with the Canadian Cancer Society. I have served as a panel member, speaking into the decision-making process about which research gets funded. I’ve shared my story quite a few times to raise support for cancer research in Canada and to inform and increase support for people affected by cancer. And of course there have been many conversations with thought-provoking questions and honest dialogue.

This year my lung cancer story is being used again as part of their holiday fundraiser, and also another big fundraiser in the new year. I’m glad to be part of significant cancer research fundraising as a multidisciplinary team member and that my advocacy training and life experience can make a difference.

Earlier this Fall I was also invited to be part of a panel member for the CCS Breakthrough Team Grants: Transforming Low Survival Cancers, specifically lung cancer and pancreatic cancer. (More info here.) It was very exciting to be asked to be part of this, especially due to the lung cancer focus, and I quickly agreed and submitted my “paperwork” to sign up.

Since advocacy is relational work, like so many other advocates I have worked hard to build relationships and partner with researchers and advocates from coast to coast to coast (and around the world). This has gone so well that when I filled out my Conflict of Interest form for the CCS Breakthrough Team Grants I realized that I knew and had partnered in research with a very large number of the research team members who had applied for funding. It was not a huge surprise, but very disappointing that the CCS team (after careful review) determined that I know and have worked with too many applicants to be a panel member this time. This time did not work out, but I’m definitely open to future opportunities.

The Canadian Cancer Trials Group (CCTG) is a national program of the Canadian Cancer Society. I’ve been part of the patient representative committee and lung executive with the CCTG since 2018. I’ve also spoken about lung cancer at CCTG Annual Meetings several times. Very grateful for the good work the CCTG does.

For quite a few years, I have been continuing to have conversations with people from the CCS about things related to lung cancer. They are generally eager to engage, and we are thrilled that this year there is special lung cancer specific funding available and that lung cancer researchers have applied. This increases hope and potentially can make a huge difference for many people affected by the deadliest cancer.

On average, 82 people in Canada are diagnosed with lung cancer every day. Lung cancer is the deadliest cancer, killing more people than the next three deadliest cancers combined.

More research means more survivors and better survivorship. Here’s to more research!

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month (LCAM). What is your Cancer Centre doing for #LCAM?

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