With nearly one million Canadians among an increasing population of cancer survivors, there is a growing need to address the needs of patients and their families after their active treatment in the cancer care system ends. While their lives have been altered, often profoundly, by their cancer diagnosis and treatment, many people go from active treatment to survivorship with very little information and few tools to prepare them for the complexities of this transition. As a result, many people report feeling isolated and overwhelmed during this time.
The Canadian Partnership Against Cancer’s survivorship initiative seeks to address those gaps. Led by the Partnership’s Cancer Journey Advisory Group through its National Survivorship Working Group, significant progress has been made.
- Based on recommendations from a national forum it convened in 2007 on the needs of survivors, the Partnership is funding four care plan demonstration projects that will add to the knowledge base about the needs of cancer survivors as they transition out of cancer care to primary care.
- The launch of Cancer Transitions, a program designed to help survivors make the transition from active treatment to post-treatment care. Forty-six new program facilitators from 22 cancer centres and agencies across Canada were trained in October and November 2009. On completion, 73% of trainees were committed to implementing training programs in their local health-care sites.
- Expansion of professionally-led online support groups for patients and families. In this innovative program, counselors are trained to provide real-time counseling to session participants. Since the program began in 2007, 24 online support groups have been conducted, with 179 participants representing a range of disease sites, as well as family members caring for palliative patients.
For more information on National Cancer Survivors Day, visit www.ncsd.org.