Every year in Canada, the Canadian Cancer Society reports more than 200,000 Canadians will be told the words no one ever wants to hear: “You have cancer”. While each individual’s experience can be vastly different, each patient can share many of the same challenges and fears after receiving their diagnosis. Often overlooked along a cancer patient’s journey, but playing an important role behind the scenes, cancer patients and their families are supported by charities along every step of the way. It is charitable organizations across the country that are dedicated to helping patients face those challenges.
Cancer is a word everybody fears. Cancer is the biggest killer in Canada, making up 30.2% of all deaths around the country in 2016. While a cancer diagnosis is devastating, there is often a road back to full health. Of the 202,400 new cases in 2016, more than half (123,600) of patients will survive.
Charities play a vital role in both the fight against cancer and supporting patients and their loved ones through their cancer journeys. Charities help patients with care, treatment, and offer invaluable support options including hospice services and end of life support to patients and their families. From funding research to management, charities are key in the fight against cancer. Many charities focus their efforts on education, awareness, and prevention to catch cancer before it’s too late.
With so many charities working to help Canadians facing cancer head on, the following are just a few charities working to address cancer in different ways.
Awareness and Prevention
Charities play a crucial role in raising awareness and educating the public on cancer prevention and awareness. They aim to decrease cancer rates through educating the public on risk factors and help improve treatment outcomes by helping Canadians detect symptoms earlier.
Team Shan is one charity that focuses on awareness and prevention. Established in honour of Shanna Larsen, who died of breast cancer at the age of 24, they educate young women about early detection, risk reduction, and prevention of breast cancer.
Raising awareness and providing education is central to Lung Cancer Canada’s (LLC) mission. LLC is the only charity in Canada with the sole mission to raise awareness and provide information to people affected by lung cancer. Formed by caregivers and healthcare professionals in response to the lack of information, treatment options and support, they have become an authority on the disease in Canada.
Supporting Patients and Loved Ones
Cancer treatment is a physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially taxing experience for each and every patient. It is also challenging for family members, partners, and other loved ones to witness someone they love so dearly face such a difficult challenge head on. A number of charities exist to support patients and their families.
Young Adult Cancer Canada connects young adults aged 15-29 who are on their cancer journey. Understanding the challenges young adults face are different, they focus on programs where cancer patients and survivors can connect in person or virtually.
Knowing that cancer also takes a toll on families, Ontario Parents Advocating for Children with Cancer, supports parents and families of children with cancer throughout their cancer journey. They coordinate peer support and support groups across Ontario – both in hospitals and in local communities.
At the heart of beating cancer is the evolving state of research. Research to identify more risk factors, early warning signs and symptoms and research for new treatments and a possible cure to cancer.
Many charities exist to fund more specialized research such as the Canadian Skin Cancer Foundation while others, like Canadian Research Society and Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation, are both committed to researching all types of cancer.
While the majority of those diagnosed with cancer survive, many do not. The Canadian Cancer Society says 78,000 people died from Cancer during 2016.
Many charities work to ensure terminal patients and their families are given the best palliative care possible. These charities are dedicated to make patients more comfortable, get the correct treatments, and have a support network around them.
The Hospice of Windsor and Essex County Inc has been providing leading palliative care since 1979, and has grown to become the largest community-based facility in Canada. It has offered support and services to more than 30,000 people in the Windsor and Essex County region.
Another community-born palliative charity is the Palliative Home-Care Society Foundation. Since 1980, the foundation has helped more than 50,000 cancer patients by providing end-of-life care in their homes so they can be closer to loved ones and in a more comforting environment.
Caring for Canadians
While Canadians are lucky enough to have most medical care provided for them, charities are filling an important gap. Without these charities and their generous donors, Canadians with cancer would have face a much harder journey. Click here to discover more charities fighting cancer, including those in your city or province.