by Dr. Robin McGee, CKN Editor, Survivor, Advocate
Cancer Advocacy for Minorities and the Medically Under-Served
When Candace Henley was diagnosed with colorectal cancer at 36, her journey to survival took her to brutal places. She fought crushing financial and psychological pressures to make it through, a story she shares openly. She faced bankruptcy, homelessness, and psychological collapse. “I made a promise to God,” she remembers, “that if I survived I would reach back and help others, and He would let me see my youngest (then only 4) reach the age of 18.” Her mission was to spare others the grueling hardships she endured. “I got my fight back,” she recounts, “and I was motivated by pure anger.”
Dr. Deborah McLeod
by Dr. Robin McGee, CKN Editor
Recently, I joined the Canadian Association of Psychosocial Oncology or CAPO. Any patient can join as an affiliate member. I have a special interest in this topic, for when I am not being a crusading cancer patient advocate, I am a clinical psychologist. As a survivor and clinician, I am keen to see improvements in how care is delivered for cancer-related distress.
by Dr. Robin McGee, CKN Editor
I have just returned from “Cancer Conversations that Matter” – a national event sponsored by the Canadian Cancer Action Network (CCAN) and their collaborative partner, the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer (CPAC). The event was held in Toronto.
We were cancer patients, survivors, family members, patient advocacy groups, and agency representatives. We were brought together from across the county. The mandate? To discuss three key themes: 1) access to screening for low income populations; 2) collection and use of cancer data; and 3) the cancer-related needs of Canada’s aging population.
by Dr. Robin McGee, Living with Cancer
Recently, I made it to five years post-surgery for stage IIIC colorectal cancer.
Technically, by NCI guidelines, I am not a five-year survivor until I reach the anniversary of the last day of my last treatment. For me, not until April.
by Dr. Robin McGee
I have been asked to share about how one might navigate the healthcare system.
I am someone who has experienced extremes of healthcare quality. I have had astonishing, and even heroic care worthy of the highest mountaintops. But I have also received horrible care (so truly terrible that the doctors involved were disciplined by the College) worthy of the lowest valley. I would like to share.
How I wish I had known, at the beginning of my cancer journey, what I know now. Doctor One and Doctor Two said the rectal bleeding was due to an antibiotic reaction. Doctor Three said I was having “the bowel equivalent of a nosebleed.” General Surgeon Doctor Four said it was mere inflammation. But it was none of these things: it was stage IIIC rectal cancer. From the day I walked into Doctor One’s office with semi-urgent symptoms and an immediate family history of colorectal cancer, my wait for diagnostic endoscopy was not the recommended 60 days – it was 661 days. From symptom onset to cancer treatment, I waited two years. The reason? “You were under 50,” they shrugged. I was 48.