Saturday, April 21, 2007

An Unwanted Journey: Day 0514 - Community Fair for Cancer Care

I'm volunteering today for the Grand River Regional Cancer Centre's Community Fair for Cancer Care.

It's an event for the local community introducing people to the range of services available for diagnosing and treating cancer. If you ever wanted to see a radiation machine, now's the time to do so. In addition, Dr. Robert Buckman will be the keynote speaker. Dr. Buckman is someone you may have seen on television on various science-related programs, but he is also a medical oncologist at Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto and the author of Cancer is a Word, Not a Sentence: A Step-by-Step Practical Guide to Cancer and Cancer Treatment as well as many other books and booklets.

There will be other presentations on topics as varied as breast cancer screening, cervical cancer prevention, colorectal cancer screening (by my surgical oncologist), and at least one survivor, Susan Metzger, talking about her own experiences. Displays from other local groups and tours are available. Come on down and say hello. I'll be handing out information from the Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada for the day (9:30 am to 3:00 pm).

If a tour of the GRRCC isn't in the cards for you today, please run the YouTube video of Diane Keaton talking about colorectal cancer screening.

I was fortunate to attend both Dr. Robert Buckman's presentation and Dr. Craig McFadyen's talk about colon and rectal cancer screening.

Buckman's presentation was humorous and informative, especially in helping those who have either been diagnosed with cancer or have a close friend or relative recently diagnosed in moving beyond being a mere survivor. As he outlined, "survivor" implies that we are alive while others are dead; further, it implies that we are just alive and merely getting by. What Buckman would like is for us to describe ourselves as thriving. To do the latter, he provided us with some advice on coping with our emotions and on matching our ambitions with our abilities.

McFadyen's presentation was the single best presentation I've ever seen or read on the importance of colon and rectal cancer screening. It was simple, direct, yet indicative of the most up-to-date research and protocols. He did not minimize issues about the expense and availability of colonscopies, nor the possibility of serious medical complications. But until DNA testing costs can be reduced and the procedures made universally available, the gold standard is clearly the colonoscopy.

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