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Earlier discussion

Pat Kelly on Canada's cancer strategy

Continued from Page 3

In the past two years, political will has begun to change and the danger of ignoring cancer professionals and their good advice is no longer acceptable. More cancer specialists are coming into the profession as doctors, nurses, dentists and pharmacist, and therapists of all kinds — because it is an exciting field with new opportunities.

Dee-Ann Schwanke from Edmonton writes: Hello, Ms. Kelly. Can you explain the relationship C2CC (The Campaign to Control Cancer) has with the government's strategy, if any?

Pat Kelly: Hi Dee-Ann — Great question. The C2CC is a broad-based coalition representing 55 of Canada's leading cancer organizations united to ensure funding and implementation of Canada's cancer plan.

Canada's cancer plan — called the Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control — did not actually come from government, at least not government acting alone. Canada's cancer plan came from our cancer community — doctors, nurses, patients, advocates and grass-roots cancer organizations. Through a diverse, evidence-based process, 700 participants helped to craft the plan, consistent with the World Health Organization principles on cancer control.

But despite having a good plan, these good people could not sell the plan to the decision-makers — politicians! Selling the plan to politicians required an external group that could lobby government on behalf of citizens. Although many of the people who lobbied government over the past two years to get the plan funded were the same people who helped craft the document — advocates, patients and families being a strongly represented group — we had to learn the fine art of co-operation, social marketing and media relations in order to gain first the attention of politicians and secondly the commitment of all parties to make this effort successful.

The C2CC represents cancer patients, professionals and grassroots organizations who have united with a common purpose — to change Canada's response to cancer — and we will remain involved in monitoring and advising as the plan is implemented.

Jeannie Hardie from Brownsburg-Chatham writes: What can the ordinary person do to help with this battle?

Pat Kelly: All Canadians can receive Stakeholder Alerts that provide timely advice about influencing decision-makers by joining the Campaign to Control Cancer (C2CC) by visiting our website and adding your voice at www.controlcancer.ca.

Rebecca Dube, globeandmail.com: That's all the time we have for today. Thanks to everyone who participated in the discussion, and thanks to Ms. Kelly for joining us online today. Ms. Kelly, any closing comments?

Pat Kelly: The G&M readers reflected the profound human suffering, struggles, concerns and cynicism about the current problems in cancer control — and while the current state cannot be denied, there is a great deal to be hopeful about at this time. In my 20 years of being a cancer survivor and advocate, there has not been a milestone of the magnitude of the Canadian Partnership against Cancer. It is not a cure — it is hope and that's the new beginning — even for skeptical old cancer patients like me!

On behalf of the 55 member organizations of the Campaign to Control Cancer, I offer my deep appreciation and thanks to the G&M for its pioneering inquiry into the state of cancer in our nation and to the readers who continue to seek answers and demand excellence in our federal and provincial cancer control efforts. Your efforts, coupled with those of all the others committed to change, will reach far beyond today. Merci — Pat Kelly, National Program Director, Campaign to Control Cancer.

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