The difference a team can make!

Before my diagnosis in the Fall of 2013, I didn’t give much thought to the lung cancer team here in Ottawa. Now I am very thankful for them and glad to be getting to know the folks at The Ottawa Hospital Cancer Centre (TOHCC), and others who’ve been working hard for people affected by lung cancer. There are many I’ve never met, and I don’t have enough pictures – couldn’t even find one of my own oncologist – but here are a few:

Above is Evening of Hope, November 24, 2016, organized by the phenomenal Louise and her dedicated team. It is one of the terrific annual lung cancer fundraising events in Ottawa. Top Left is Elizabeth, who blogged at this link, and changed the face of lung cancer. Her mom, Robyn, is pictured several photo’s below, from last month’s 2K.

Beverly (founding Ottawa support group member) with Chris Draft, NFL Legend & Legendary Lung Cancer Advocate, Sept. 2017
Our wonderful social worker, Diane, with some support group founding members (founded October 2017) – Jill, Andrea, Laurie, Peg, Kayla, Evening of Hope, November 2017
What a difference friends & supporters make! This creative friend surprised us with this lungs-shaped cake at the Cancer Centre on World Lung Cancer Day August 2018!
Anna, TOHCC researcher & prize-winning cyclist / fundraiser, with generous friends
Kayla (founding support group member) and Kayla’s Fight Club have done tremendous work
Michelle, a wonderful advocate and fundraiser, at a CCSN event on Parliament Hill in 2018
Dr. Paul Wheatley-Price, TOH oncologist and President of Lung Cancer Canada, ran the marathon as part of the same week-end event as our 2K, for for Canadians affected by lung cancer. Here he is giving a pep talk! We are grateful for the community of support! #RunOttawa2019 #LungCancerStrong #LungCancerTeamCanada
Paul with Robyn, lovely mother of Elizabeth, at our pre-2K rally #RunOttawa2019

Almost a year ago we held our first ever Lung Cancer Hope Table in our Cancer Centre. It was a special event for World Lung Cancer Day, which is August 1. You can read about that day and what led up to it here.

The first Hope Table was supported by many more people than are shown here!

That one Day of Hope made such a difference that we decided to hold them every month. This is what our terrific team has been doing ever since. Every month we co-ordinate with the cancer centre to have a table set out for us. We keep our supply of information from Lung Cancer Canada, the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC), and other organizations conveniently stored in a generous oncologist’s office at the Cancer Centre. Most importantly, every month we show up at the Cancer Centre to show love and share hope.

Some “Co-conspirators of Hope”, Support Group teammates staffing our table, June 2019.

What an honour to be there to brighten a person’s day! Our team makes a difference for lung cancer patients and caregivers, and everyone who stops by. People who work or volunteer at the Cancer Centre need hope and love just as much as the next person, maybe more. I can’t tell you how many people say things like, “This was just what I needed!” But they don’t need words to communicate the difference we make: we can see it clearly on their faces and in their body language. We are doing important work at the Cancer Centre.

Spring 2019 at TOHCC

This is a great way to tell people we have a support group and invite them to join us! We enjoy spending time together!

Ottawa support group, Fall 2018
Some support group members, Spring 2019

Our lung cancer support group has grown closer together because of these outreach tables. Our group has also grown larger! We have met so many wonderful people because we chose to invest a few hours sharing hope and love at the cancer centre. I want to give a big shout out to our support group for the difference we made at our Cancer Centre this year! Thank you for your great work! Thank you Andrea, for your faithful leadership! You kept us organized, and have established and maintained good relationships with people of our cancer centre!

The Cancer Centre has been very supportive. A big shout out to The Ottawa Hospital Cancer Centre! They supply the tables and have even started paying for our parking! They now post information about our group, with dates indicating when our next table will be. We have worked at building relationships at the cancer centre and earned trust. The oncologists have started telling their patients about us. It is encouraging and honouring that they do this, but it’s much bigger than that.

The amazing Jody, TOHCC
Two dedicated members of our TOH Cancer Centre Clinical Trials Team

When we partner together, then we can truly start making a difference for people affected by lung cancer. There is no limit to what we can do when people who work in differing ways in the lung cancer community partner effectively together. When doctors and social workers and caregivers and nurses and survivors and researchers and fundraisers and communicators and advocates … all work together, we can make a world of good for people affected by lung cancer.

One person can make a big difference by sitting at a Hope table, by getting to know people at their cancer centre, by forming relationships and becoming a team together, and who knows what kind of difference that team can make!

Get to know your lung cancer community! Ask questions! Reach out!

#StrongerTogether #BetterTogether #Team

#Shift

This past week has been one of the best of my life! It has been enormously transformational: I will never be the same. What an honour to represent Canada, to represent lung cancer, and to help spread a little bit of the tremendous amount of hope which is available.

I come home a new person with a deeper calling. I have an even bigger love for people affected by lung cancer, a stronger passion to make things better, and an unbendable will to work hard toward that goal.

It was an honour and responsibility to represent Canada and to represent lung cancer patients at the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting. I worked hard to make you all proud.

Twenty-three thousand people dedicated to fighting cancer gathered in Atlanta, and I wish I could have met them all! Thank you MP Catherine McKenna and your team for the Canada flag pins! I gave out almost 100 Canadian flag pins, and well over 100 business cards, telling our lung cancer story every time. I was honoured by these cancer fighters, and met brilliant leaders in the field, people who cared and listened. They are dedicated to improving outcomes for cancer patients, and research makes a difference! More research means more survivors. I thanked them for their work, and felt honoured when they thanked me for mine.

On my way to share my advocacy story at my poster session

I have many stories to tell, many photo’s to post, and more video posts to come on YouTube. I have been honoured to bring hope to people affected by lung cancer and other cancers, living in Canada and around the world. It brings me tremendous joy to serve as a channel of hope for the lung cancer community. #ChooseHope! … and keep your eyes open for more

I’m so grateful for all I’ve been privileged to experience this past week. It was an honour to represent, and I will keep working hard for people affected by lung cancer.

Queen’s Park Day, described by CCSN

Please take a few moments to read what is below, what the good people of Canadian Cancer Survivor Network posted on their website about our day at Queen’s Park. If you follow the link, you can go right to their website which has more pictures from the event. CCSN does great work, including offering helpful resources like free webinars. I’m grateful for opportunities to partner with them. We are stronger and better when we work together.

Canadian Cancer Survivor Network/Connect/News/CCSN & Lung Cancer Canada to MPPs: Lung Cancer Patients have a Right2Survive

CCSN & Lung Cancer Canada to MPPs: Lung Cancer Patients have a Right2Survive

March 1, 2019

Lung cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Canada. It kills over 20,000 Canadians every year – more people than colorectal, breast, and prostate cancers combined. Despite being the number one killer, outcomes in lung cancer fall behind other cancers. All cancer patients deserve a chance to become cancer survivors, and this includes lung cancer patients too.

The Canadian Cancer Survivor Network (CCSN), in partnership with Lung Cancer Canada (LCC), hosted a legislative reception and breakfast at Queen’s Park on February 20th, 2019. Patients, survivors, caregivers and patient groups from various parts of Ontario attended and spoke with MPPs on the importance of ensuring that lung cancer patients receive opportunities in survivorship.

Speakers at the reception included The Honourable Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health and Long-Term Care; MPP France Gélinas, NDP Health Critic and Chief Opposition Whip; MPP John Fraser, Interim Liberal Leader; and MPP Mike Schreiner, Green Party MPP and leader of the Green Party of Ontario. The reception was sponsored by MPP Andrea Khanjin, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks.

Lung cancer patient advocate, Anne Marie Cerato, spoke about her journey to survivorship after being diagnosed at a young age with stage IV lung adenocarcinoma. She also celebrated ten years of being a lung cancer survivor with the audience, one that she described as a “unicorn” and “rarity” in the lung cancer community.

Over 30 MPPs from all parties as well as cabinet ministers attended and interacted with patients, survivors, caregivers and representatives from the patient community.

Groups from the patient community included After Breast Cancer, Dense Breasts Canada, Gilda’s Club Greater Toronto, Canadian PKU & Allied Disorders, Life Saving Therapies Network, Lymphedema Association of Ontario, Alberta Lymphedema Association, Lymphoma Canada, Ontario Lung Association, Prostate Cancer Canada, Canadian Cancer Society and Niagara College Canada.

Cancer patient advocates, survivors and caregivers from all over Ontario attended the event. These included:

  • From the Greater Toronto Area and neighbouring cities: Anne Marie Cerato, Larry Frydman, Raymond Laflamme, Roz Brodsky, David Soberman, and Kathryn Hamilton
  • From Niagara: MaryAnn Bradley
  • From London: Palmerino Leone and Julianna Leone
  • From Ottawa: Jill Hamer-Wilson and Andrea Redway

These fantastic patient advocates met with many MPPs, attended Question Period and shared their stories and input on how we can improve Ontario’s healthcare system in meetings with MPPs from all political parties.

“This experience gave me the opportunity to share with MPP France Gélinas, MPP Jill Andrew and MPP Daisy Wai, the early detection lung cancer screening pilot project. These conversations helped me to bring awareness and what it would mean to be able to treat lung cancer earlier than when it has advanced to Stage IV, and how this would be cost-effective in the long run.

I found that we still have a long way to go to end the stigma behind lung cancer and bring light to how important early detection in cancer is.” – MaryAnn Bradley

What We Said: Screening, affordable medications and patient engagement

Earlier detection is an important tool for improving long-term survival rates. Early lung cancer screening programs can also save our healthcare system money. According to Canadian studies, early treatment can save up to $15,000 per patient, as opposed to treating it at a later stage. We urge all political parties to continue their support by turning the early screening pilot programs in Ontario into permanent programs.

Scientific advancements continue to transform treatments available for lung cancer patients, offering them more options and the potential of a longer life for those with advanced cancers. However, there are long delays between Health Canada approval and provincial funding in Ontario – with one treatment taking more than 1400 days.

Ontario patients also have to pay for take-home oral cancer medications. This presents a barrier for many as these medications are not covered in the province, in contrast to Alberta and British Columbia.

We urge all political parties to take leadership and to bring Ontario’s healthcare system up to date. We also urge all political parties to ensure that the voices of those fighting cancer are heard, as the government consults on evolving our healthcare system to best meet the needs of patients, survivors and caregivers.

About lung cancer and the Right2Survive campaign:

The Canadian Cancer Survivor Network (CCSN) has partnered with Lung Cancer Canada (LCC) to increase awareness of lung cancer and to destigmatize this disease. The Right2Survive campaign, www.right2survive.ca, aims to build a community of support around the need to do more to improve lung cancer survivorship.

Canadian Cancer Survivor Network
https://survivornet.ca/news/ccsn-lung-cancer-canada-to-mpps-lung-cancer-patients-have-a-right2survive/

Whirlwinds

This Family Day long week-end has felt like a whirlwind, with all three kids flinging off in varying directions at various times. Good directions, great discussions! So glad to have them home and tucked into bed. I love our conversations around the table, and also the one-on-one times. I’m blessed!

Oldest is asking profound questions. Also cooked burritos for dinner. From scratch: tortillas and all. Amazing! Middle was at Ontario Youth Parliament and is energized, ebullient, keen for next year. Joy! Youngest (among many other things) made and photographed this gorgeous cake (from scratch) for one of her friends. I’m filled with gratitude and awe as I watch them growing up!

… and I’m feeling kind of nervous about my little whirlwind of a trip to Toronto in the morning.

I feel privileged to go. I’m healthy enough. I’m going with great people. It’s well-organized. We bring important messages… and -importantly- people have said they’re coming to hear us.

Thank you to everyone who contacted their MPP! It means a lot to have you standing with us. We need a team surrounding us as we speak for so many people affected by lung cancer who can’t make it to Queen’s Park this week.

Thank you to all the MPP’s who are coming to the breakfast and taking meetings with us. I’m grateful for this opportunity. And a heartfelt thank you to Canadian Cancer Survivors Network and Lung Cancer Canada, and everyone involved in the #Right2Survive campaign.

I’ll try to tweet and post #Right2Survive as much as I can over the next two days … while also holding onto my hat! #onpoli

Super Fun!

Well, that was the most excitement I’ve had in a long time! I can’t believe I almost won (i.e. almost came top three) the Super Bowl Challenge! Thanks to you, for a while there I was even in SECOND PLACE!!!! I’m getting excited again, just thinking about it!

Thank you for your tremendous support, encouragement, and generous donations! Together we raised a lot of money for lung cancer research and lung cancer survivor support. Together we raised a lot of excitement and encouragement for this lung cancer survivor too! Thank you!

One of the ways you increased my joy was by inviting your friends and family to participate as well. You told people my story, you widened the circle, you grew the team, and that was terrific! It takes a real team effort to compete in the Super Bowl Challenge! Thank you to all of you who are Team Jill, all year long. I can’t thank you enough!

Screen shot taken from https://www.crowdrise.com/o/en/campaign/2019superbowlchallenge

These top three will do a fantastic job representing all of us lung cancer survivors: Patty at Super Bowl 53 in Atlanta GA, Jeff & Rhonda at 2019 NFL Pro Bowl in Orlando, FL, and Gina at Taste of the NFL in Atlanta GA. They will have opportunities to share their stories with key influencers, and they will have a LOT of fun!

Grand total raised so far is: $32,594 USD, and Patty is holding another big event on January 19th. This is something to celebrate! I’m still hoping to make it to Atlanta, maybe even before Summer – watch this space!

Lung Cancer Advocate (and former NFL player) Chris Draft visiting our family

Chris Draft works with tremendous energy and tenacity to encourage and support the lung cancer community. Team Draft is Changing the Face of Lung Cancer, focusing on Awareness, Early Detection, Treatment, Research and Survivorship. Chris genuinely cares about people, thinks strategically and acts to make a significant difference. Plus, he knows football and enjoys taking people affected by lung cancer out to games, Survivor at Every Stadium.

www.TeamDraft.org – that’s Chris at the upper right

Thank you!! I had a lot of fun participating in the Super Bowl Challenge this year! That was one exciting ride! Thank you for your generosity.

Parliament Hill

I spent eleven hours at and near Parliament Hill on Tuesday, listening, learning and speaking. My first time serving as a lung cancer advocate in this particular setting, I was honoured to meet and have good conversations with MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes, MP Peter Kent, and MP Kate Young. It was a privilege to represent lung cancer patients, tell my story, and raise important issues. It was also a treat to make new connections, deepen ties with good groups like Canadian Cancer Survivor Network and Lung Cancer Canada, and spend time with dear friends who are passionate about this important cause. I was excited to be present at Question Period and see inside Centre Block again before renovations begin. A full day devoted to lung cancer issues: a day well invested! Now a couple of days of rest!

With thanks to John Major for the beautiful photo’s above, and CCSN and 3Sixty Public Affairs for organizing this strategic day.