Before he was diagnosed with brain cancer, Chris’s vision for a comprehensive cancer centre had been focused on scientific and clinical outcomes. But his transition from surgeon to patient brought a new understanding of what it means to receive compassionate, patient-centred treatment. Sympathy became empathy. Listening became a deep knowing.
In my role as patient advocate I am privileged to just BE with our patients and families as they receive the same news that Chris and I did, and to help them navigate what can be one of the most difficult experiences of their lives.
As I write this, I think of Lauren, a young woman who was navigating such a journey. Lauren was being treated here for sarcoma, a disease she had been dealing with for five years, so she knew us very well. Sadly, Lauren’s disease had reached the stage where she had to transition to palliative care. Lauren had a great fear around leaving us, and what the future of her care would look like.
As Lauren’s advocate, I visited the palliative care centre on her behalf. The team came here to meet Lauren and describe what it would be like for her and her family. This was an incredible reassurance they all needed at an extremely difficult time.
That’s what patient advocacy is about – a deeper level of compassionate care. But it is also simply stopping to say hi or checking if someone is OK. In that way, we are all advocates here. That is what we strive for.
There’s an essence in this place, some patients describe it as a sanctuary, a place that gives them a sense of warmth and calm. None of this would be possible without you, our donors and supporters. Chris’s legacy lives on because of your generous support. For this, I am eternally grateful.