Document 247558

Saturday, September 22, 2012
Why Get a Referral
to Regional Cancer
Care Northwest?
By Graham Strong
“Every patient in Northwestern
Ontario who receives a cancer
diagnosis should be referred to the
cancer centre.”
That’s the bottom line, says Dr.
Coordinator, Radiation Oncology at
Regional Cancer Care Northwest
(RCC). The cancer centre’s
comprehensive approach to “whole
patient” care means better outcomes
– not to mention better overall
support for the patient.
Any patient can ask for
a referral to the cancer
centre from their family
physician, surgeon, nurse
practitioner, or other medical
“It’s important that patients are
viewed and treated in a holistic way.
The Cancer Program offers a wide
range of services and supports that
address not just their physical needs,
but spiritual, psychological, and
more,” says Dr. Gulavita. Treating
cancer is just one piece of the puzzle.
RCC Northwest offers a wide
range of services at every step of the
cancer journey from prevention and
screening through to post-treatment
and palliative care. RCC NW
supports a holistic approach to overall
care that is reinforced by an
interdisciplinary support team that
includes a nurse, social worker,
dietitian, chaplain, and other
healthcare professionals. Patients –
and in some cases their families – can
be referred for genetic counselling,
psycho-social counselling, clinical
trials, treatment for side
effects, smoking cessation
Intimacy, Sexuality
(BLISS) clinic, a multitude
of support groups, and other
services that can help them through
their cancer journey.
Regional patients, who sometimes
have to travel hundreds of kilometres
for cancer care, can access supports
through the Ontario Telemedicine
Network that can schedule
videoconferencing with oncologists
and other members of the support
team. In addition, RCC can help
patients find online support groups
through programs like Cancer Chat
Dr. Sunil Gulavita, Head and Coordinator, Radiation Oncology at Regional Cancer Care Northwest, says it’s
important that every patient in Northwestern Ontario who receives a cancer diagnosis be seen at the cancer centre.
“It’s the continuity of care that
RCC Northwest provides that is the
real advantage,” says Dr. Peter
McGhee, Director of Medical Physics
at RCC. “Patients might not realize
that we have services that offer a
comprehensive continuum of care
beyond the several weeks required for
delivery of radiotherapy or
chemotherapy. The RCC Northwest
team focuses on comprehensive,
overall well-being.”
Another huge service RCC
provides for regional patients is
accommodation at the Tbaytel
Tamarack House, a “home away
from home” for cancer patients from
the region. Located right across from
the Regional Cancer Centre, patients
are conveniently located within
walking distance of all available
services. Guests at Tamarack House
can share their experiences with other
cancer patients, which many patients
find is a benefit that cannot be
Then there’s the quality of care
itself. RCC consistently ranks among
the top cancer centres in the
province, and has some of the lowest
wait times for surgery, chemotherapy,
and radiation therapy.
“Over the years, we have
performed very well in terms of wait
times,” Dr. Gulavita says. “And
recent patient satisfaction surveys
indicate that an incredible 97% of
patients continue to rank our
program highly.”
“Cancer is a complex disease that
comprehensive care. A patient with a
cancer diagnosis should come to the
cancer centre to determine the best
options for treatment,” says Dr.
McGhee. “What you want is our
entire team of specialists on your side.
That’s what the cancer centre offers.”
For more information about
Regional Cancer Care services, or
general information about cancer,
please call (807) 684-7200 or tollfree at (877) 696-7223.
Screen for Life! Talking
About Cancer Screening
By Janine Chiasson
All over the world, healthcare organizations
have a strong interest in encouraging citizens to
be screened for diseases like cancer, diabetes,
heart disease, and more. Researchers constantly
evaluate evidence to better determine when
people should get screened, how they should
be screened, as well as who should do the
screening. In Ontario, as new information
suggests that changes should be made to
screening recommendations, Cancer Care
Ontario (CCO) prepares and releases new
screening guidelines. This year, for example,
Ontario released new Cervical Screening
Guidelines and discontinued Clinical Breast
Examination based on extensive study and
Organized Screening Programs Work
Compared to many other places, Ontarians
have excellent access to organized screening
programs like the Ontario Breast Screening
Program (OBSP). This program allows women
to self-refer, sends reminder letters when
appointments need to be made, alerts women
of their results, offers patient navigation services
for women who need further follow-up, and in
Northwestern Ontario, OBSP literally goes
“where the women are” with the mobile coach.
And women have responded. Breast screening
rates in Northwestern Ontario are one of the
highest in the province.
While we raise the bar for breast screening by
boasting the highest rates in the province, we
have room for improvement in our other
organized screening programs. Despite
evidence that 90% of colorectal cancers can be
cured if found early, Northwestern Ontario
men and women are still reluctant to complete
the ColonCancerCheck kit (the at-home stool
test). Even though the kit is simple, noninvasive and done in the privacy of your own
bathroom, screening rates are still lower here
than in the rest of the province.
And many women in Northwestern Ontario
are not going for follow-up testing when they
have an abnormal Pap test. Sure, a Pap test isn’t
going to be the best 15 minutes of your day,
but most women only require the test once
every three years and it could save your life.
During Cervical Screening Awareness Week
from October 21-27, many clinics throughout
Northwestern Ontario will offer drop-in
cervical screening for women. Women are
encouraged to participate. Call the Cervical
Hotline at 807-684-7787 to find out if you are
eligible for screening and how to book an
How can we improve Northwestern
Ontario’s low cancer screening rates?
Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences
Centre’s Prevention and Screening Services
educates and encourages eligible adults to get
screened and supports our busy primary care
providers with the tools and information they
need to talk about screening eligibility and refer
patients for screening when it’s the right time.
The Thunder Bay Medical Society’s annual
Physician Summer School takes place in
September and provides a unique opportunity
to alert local physicians to new guidelines,
promotions, and initiatives. Prevention and
Screening Services staff recently attended the
event to talk about the importance of screening.
At Physician Summer School, TBRHSC Screening and Promotions Planner Michelle Kolobutin talks
about screening with family physician Dr. Mary Jo Dorion – a recent addition to the Superior Family
Health Organization.
Family physician Dr. Margaret Woods
doesn’t need any convincing. “Prevention is an
important part of my practice,” she says. “I
encourage all my patients to be screened at
recommended intervals. We want to find
problems early when treatment is easier and
outcomes are better. I encourage all my patients
to bring up questions about screening at visits.”
Primary Care Providers + Patients Working
Together to Change Screening Rates
Screening isn’t about sickness, it’s about
maintaining wellness. Cancer Care Ontario has
a new integrated approach to screening called
“Screen for Life.” The logo includes
checkmarks for breast, colorectal, and cervical
screening. Hopefully, Ontarians will be
encouraged to build screening right into their
everyday to-do list.
Make sure your screening is up-to-date. To
learn about the screening tests that are right for
your age and gender, visit the Ministry of
Health and Long Term Care’s Time to Screen
tool at: or talk to your
primary care provider (doctor or nurse
practitioner). Not only can you take charge of
your own screening completeness, you can talk
about it with your husband, your daughter,
your aunt, or your friend.
It’s true: cancer screening sees what you
Volunteer Helps Renal Patient Get to
Camp This Summer
By Graham Strong
It was a trip that Cornelius really
wanted to go on.
Renal Camp is an informal
program that allows people with
renal disease the chance to visit the
Wilderness Discovery Family Resort
Shebandowan Lake. Patients and
their families and friends get a few
days to spend together away at camp,
like so many of us do every summer,
canoeing and fishing and relaxing.
Cornelius loved to do all that too
in Kenora before renal disease forced
him to move to Thunder Bay for
dialysis treatments. This was an
opportunity for him to get out on the
lake again – though he knew he
wouldn’t be able to take the trip
Jordan Williams, a fourth-year
Psychology student at Lakehead
University who works at Renal
Services as a casual and volunteer,
said he’d go along with Cornelius.
“Sometimes when I’m working at
the front desk, Cornelius will stop by
and visit,” Jordan said. “He was
telling me that he really wanted to
go… I told Lori (one of Cornelius’s
care providers) that if it was just a
matter of him needing a chaperone,
I’d be more than willing to take
It was a short two-day, one-night
trip, but one that they will both likely
remember for a long time to come.
“He was really excited to go – he
Jordan Williams (right) and Cornelius (left) show off the fish they filleted together
while staying at Renal Camp hosted by the Wilderness Discovery Family Resort &
Conference Centre on Shebandowan Lake.
had an amazing time,” Jordan said. the Kidney Foundation of Canada
“He caught some fish and I caught and HAGI Transit also assisted with
my first fish too. He taught me how transportation to and from the camp
to fillet – I had no idea how to do it.” as needed.
Jordan, who is originally from
The Renal Camp, which is now an
Woodbridge outside of Toronto, annual event, takes place during midmoved to Thunder Bay for school in August and has been well-received by
2009 and has spent his last three patients who have taken advantage of
summers here.
the program. While Cornelius and
Although open to the public, Jordan were at the camp, there were
Wilderness Discovery is a special two other families and an individual
resort that is designed to staying.
accommodate people will healthcare
“It’s a home away from home for
issues. Various camps including the patients and families, and gives them
Renal Camp are subsidized or funded an opportunity to share their
through different programs to help experiences of living with kidney
offset costs to the patient and family. disease with other families in a relaxed
In this case, the camp was funded by camp setting,” Jordan said.
Material has been provided by Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation and its partners.
Your Aunt,
your Girlfriend,
your Daughter.
Your donation helps us detect and treat
cancers. Better outcomes happen at home.
Together, we make hope possible.
TEL: 807-345-4673
FAX: 807-684-5802
TOLL FREE: 1-877-696-7223
Ways to Give