As the pandemic enters its third year, the Canadian Cancer Society invites Canadians to share their experience with cancer during the pandemic
TORONTO, ON–World Cancer Day is a time to come together to honour and remember everyone affected by cancer and take action to change the future of cancer forever. On this day, the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) is calling on Canadians to continue to do their part to support people living with cancer during the pandemic.
For the second year in a row, World Cancer Day has heightened significance as people with cancer continue to face not only the challenges of navigating life with cancer, but also the impacts of COVID-19. Delays to cancer screening appointments, diagnostic tests, treatment and surgery remain common.
The impact these postponements and restrictions have on the physical and mental health of those affected is significant. One study led by researchers in Canada and published in the British Journal of Medicine showed that a 4-week delay in cancer treatment increases the risk of death by about 10%. And according to a CCS-led survey, concerns around receiving adequate care during the pandemic can cause feelings of anxiety, loneliness and isolation for people facing cancer and their caregivers.
“Through our surveys and support services, we’re hearing from people with cancer who feel forgotten” says Andrea Seale, CEO of the Canadian Cancer Society. “It’s clear that cancer doesn’t stop being a life-threatening, life-changing disease in the middle of a pandemic, and that every effort must be made to ensure people facing cancer receive essential cancer care as well as compassionate and practical support.”
Mélodie Cyr, a PhD candidate at McGill University, is just one of countless Canadians whose surgery was postponed during the pandemic. After her initial appointment was cancelled in spring 2020, she waited over a year for a biopsy on a thyroid tumour.
“Some days, waiting and not knowing whether I had cancer felt like too much to bear,” says Cyr. “The uncertainty was emotionally paralyzing and left me and my family in a state of psychological limbo that coloured our waking moments.”
When Mélodie finally received surgery, the biopsy revealed that her tumour was pre-cancerous. Fortunately, it had been removed in time to spare her the challenge of having to undergo cancer treatment.
The complexities of navigating life with cancer during a pandemic are well documented. When COVID-19 cases began to steeply rise in Canada in December, CCS saw an increase of 160% in the number of people looking for information about cancer and COVID online. But there are things people can do to help ease the burden of people facing cancer.
“We can all do our part to help people with cancer by getting vaccinated and following public health measures,” says Seale. “The fewer COVID-19 cases there are, the more likely it is that those with cancer will receive the uninterrupted care they need and have a better chance of surviving.”
This World Cancer Day, and every day, CCS is working to save and improve lives and be a voice for people who care about cancer. Canadians who want to take additional steps to make a difference for people affected by cancer can visit cancer.ca/WorldCancerDay to learn more about our online advocacy tool. The tool provides a simple way for individuals to raise their voice and help shape the decisions that make cancer care a priority.
For those living with cancer and their caregivers, CCS continues to offer digital and telephone support programs that can help reduce anxiety and limit feelings of isolation. These programs include:
Cancer Information Helpline – A national helpline, available in 200 languages , that is accessible to anyone with questions about cancer (1-888-939-3333, email@example.com or live chat at cancer.ca).
Community Services Locator – A directory of 4,500+ services supporting those affected by cancer.
CancerConnection.ca – An online forum to share experiences and support for anyone impacted by cancer.
Cancer.ca – A website that hosts 2,400 pages of evidence-based information on more than 100 types of cancer for every stage of the cancer journey.
Learn more at cancer.ca.
About the Canadian Cancer Society
The Canadian Cancer Society works tirelessly to save and improve lives. We fund the brightest minds in cancer research. We provide a compassionate support system for all those affected by cancer, from coast to coast and for all types of cancer. As the voice for Canadians who care about cancer, we work with governments to establish health policies to prevent cancer and better support those living with the disease. No other organization does all that we do to improve lives today and to change the future of cancer forever. Help us make a difference. Call 1-888-939-3333 or visit cancer.ca today.