CancerControl Alberta steps up to assist Fort McMurray patients

Offers of help came flowing in from cancer centre staff

Swift action by the Alberta Health Services Community Cancer Team and the Cross Cancer Ambulatory Care Team helped ensure that needs of patients at the Fort McMurray Community Cancer Centre were met during May’s devastating fires and the subsequent evacuation of more than 80,000 residents.

Using the Alberta Cancer Line as the point of contact for appointments, comments and concerns, both teams worked closely to locate and assist Fort McMurray oncology patients, many of whom were forced to evacuate to centres in Edmonton and elsewhere in the province.

The Cross Cancer Institute in Edmonton opened on a Saturday to provide treatments missed during the evacuation. Physicians met with patients and offered coffee and treats. After hearing about a young family lacking appropriate clothing, staff collected and donated school supplies, new and used clothing, as well as toiletries.

Outpatient and day care staff also came together to donate $50 gift cards to each displaced cancer patient, a sign of support many accepted with tearful “thank yous.”

Patients repeatedly expressed gratitude for Alberta Health Services staff reaching out to connect with them so soon after the disaster.

The Alberta Cancer Line and its compassionate staff provided an outlet for patients seeking answers or support. The response demonstrated the finest of person-centered care, allowing those affected by the fires the comfort of being able to pick up the phone and speak to someone directly.

Kudos to the CancerControl Alberta teams that made this a priority and their outstanding dedication in assisting oncology patients displaced by the fires.

Written by Tina Brkin and Kate Leyerzapf. Reprinted with permission of CancerControl Alberta.