Life after cancer: Transforming the post-treatment experience

Ensuring people living with cancer can access the help they need, when they need it

While three-quarters of people living with cancer say they can get useful information on managing post-treatment physical symptoms and side-effects, only half are able to find what they need to address the day-to-day concerns of navigating life after cancer.1 These might include practical questions about going back to school or work, qualifying for health insurance, or accessing financial assistance.

The knowledge emerging from the Transition Study underpins all of our work to address the unmet needs of people living with cancer. It informs our decisions and operations, giving us solid evidence so we can confidently focus our attention and resources in the right places. We’ve accomplished so much more over the past two two years- and we wouldn’t have been able to do any of it without the funding from the Partnership.

Canadian Cancer Society

These concerns can persist for years after treatment has ended. Yet many people don’t know where to turn for support or may hesitate to seek help because:

  • they don’t want to ask
  • they don’t know services are available
  • someone told them it was normal, so they think nothing can be done1

But help is available. Not just from primary care providers but also community organizations such as friendship centres and seniors’ centres, as well as advocacy groups and peer support networks. By providing support to organizations like the Canadian Cancer Society, the Partnership is making it easier for people living with cancer to access the information they need to lead better lives.

How the Canadian Cancer Society connects people living with cancer to community support

A one-stop shop for referrals and advice
The Community Services Locator (CSL) is an online tool that helps people living with cancer and their families find services and programs near them. Users search by location and keyword (like “prosthetics” or “peer support”) to get an up-to-date list of vetted resources in their community.

With support from the Partnership, the Canadian Cancer Society put in place new search filters that allow users to find services for specific populations, such as adolescents and young adults, individuals with advanced cancer, or newcomers to Canada. These updates led to an increase in traffic to the CSL website.

Our contributions also enabled the development of a “widget” that other cancer charities and healthcare organizations can place on their own websites to link to the CSL. By the end of 2023, the widget had been installed on six partner sites, directing approximately 15,000 additional users to the CSL.

Reliable support, whenever it’s needed
The toll-free Cancer Information Helpline (CIH) connects people affected by cancer to trained specialists who can answer any questions they might have. It’s an invaluable resource, but only if people know it exists. That’s why the Canadian Cancer Society used Partnership funding to forge new relationships with healthcare organizations in Atlantic Canada and Quebec so they can actively promote the CIH and integrate it into their referral processes.

That included reaching out to the PEI Cancer Treatment Centre and the McGill University Health Centre, helping them get a better sense of how the CIH can help them help their patients — and start building a formal mechanism for directing people to the CIH for certain kinds of questions. The 811 telehealth service in New Brunswick, PEI, and Newfoundland and Labrador also now refers non-emergency clients identifying as having cancer to the CIH.

  1. Canadian Partnership Against Cancer. Living with cancer: A report on the cancer experience [Internet]. The Partnership; 2018 [cited 2024 Jan 26]. Available from: