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Exchange of knowledge

Public interest group working to bridge cancer knowledge gap

Campus and Community

Cancer is the most common cause of death in Canada.

From left to right are Teri Stuckless, Sevtap Savas and Holly Etchegary.
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

Sadly, the number of individuals who will be diagnosed with cancer is expected to continue to increase in future years.

In addition, among Canadian provinces, residents of Newfoundland and Labrador have the highest risk of developing and dying from cancer.

This means that more needs to be done to help protect our population from the negative effects of this disease.

Communicate, communicate, communicate

One way to achieve this goal is to enhance communications and increase the exchange of knowledge among members of the general public, researchers, physicians, scientists, health-care administrators and cancer patients and their family members.

The exchange of knowledge can help in many ways.

For example, more residents can start using medical knowledge to learn about their cancer risk.

By taking advantage of free screening programs, residents can increase the chances of early tumour detection, resulting in better health outcomes.

More cancer patients and/or family members may use the support services currently available to them, such as nurse navigator or oncology social work programs.

Similarly, researchers and administrators can learn the barriers and gaps in cancer control measures and practices.

Bridging the knowledge gap on these topics is very important in managing cancer risk and improving cancer patients’ experiences.

“Cancer patients and family members are the experts of these experiences.”

Importantly, we all can learn from the experiences of cancer-affected individuals.

For instance, what are their life experiences following a cancer diagnosis? What challenges do they face and how do they navigate their cancer journey?

Where do they get the support and services they may need? What works well and what needs to be improved in cancer care?

Cancer patients and family members are the experts of these experiences.

Often, they are also eager to share their perspectives and improve things for other families affected by cancer.

One-day event

The reasons highlighted above are why the Public Interest Group on Cancer Research is organizing the Public Conference on Cancer in Newfoundland and Labrador on Saturday, Oct. 15.

This is a cancer patient-informed event.

If you would like to learn about perspectives and personal stories of cancer patients and family members from Newfoundland and Labrador; cancer-screening programs and support services provided by the Provincial Cancer Care Program available to the residents of Newfoundland and Labrador; or the importance and value of partnering with patients in research, public outreach and health care-related improvements, then please join us for this free and online one-day event.

The conference speakers include cancer patients, family members of cancer patients, cancer, health and Indigenous health scientists, health-care providers and administrators, a director of a local cancer charity organization, a founder of a national cancer support organization, a past project manager for the Labrador cancer project and advocates.

From left to right are Lisa Blundell, Sevtap Savas and Alicia Follett.
Photo: Jennifer Tucker

The organizers have put emphasis on patient speaker representation, such as the LGBTQ community, hereditary cancers and pediatric cancers.

There are currently 17 speakers; all but one is from Newfoundland and Labrador. In addition to the talks, there will be two Q&A sessions during which conference participants will engage with a panel of experts.

This event is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 15, at 9.30 a.m. (NDT).

We all have things to share and learn from each other. If you are interested in participating in the event, please register here.

For further information on the conference, conference schedule, speakers and updates, please visit the conference website or contact Dr. Sevtap Savas.

The organizing team would like to thank the past members of the Public Interest Group on Cancer Research, all speakers and Melissa MacLean from the Office of Professional and Educational Development for their valuable contributions.

The event is funded by an Accelerator Fund – Office of Public Engagement, Memorial University and is supported by NL SUPPORT and Memorial University’s Discipline of Oncology.


Submitted by Dr. Sevtap Savas, Faculty of Medicine, Memorial University; Dr. Holly Etchegary, Faculty of Medicine, Memorial University; Dr. Teri Stuckless, Faculty of Medicine, Memorial University, and Provincial Cancer Care Program, Eastern Health; Alicia Follett, Faculty of Medicine, Memorial University; Dr. Cindy Whitten, Department of Research and Innovation, Eastern Health; and John King, Darrell Peddle, Derrick Bishop and other community members of the Public Interest Group on Cancer Research.

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