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Honouring patient support groups on National Cancer Wellness Awareness Day

June 26 is National Cancer Wellness Awareness Day (#NCWAD), a milestone created to acknowledge the importance of social and emotional support for those living with cancer. Since 2019, this new awareness day is marked by encouraging those with cancer to join communities and programs to help support total wellbeing along their cancer journey.

For individuals living with cancer, managing the disease is more than just medical care. It is expected that 1 in 2 Canadians will develop cancer in their lifetime, and ensuring the mental, physical and emotional wellbeing of people living with cancer is crucial to maintaining a high quality of life. Which is why days like the National Cancer Wellness Awareness Day are so important to highlight and celebrate together, as a healthcare community.

NATIONAL has had the privilege of working with several cancer-focused groups who work to support the wellbeing of individuals along their cancer journey. In honour of #NCWAD, we’re turning the spotlight on some of the powerful work these organizations do.

Wellspring

Wellspring is a Canada-wide network of community-based cancer support centers, available to anyone living with any type or stage of cancer. Programming aims to meet the psychological, emotional and educational needs of individuals and families living with cancer. Funded completely by donor contributions, Wellspring’s programming is free to their members.

In 2019, NATIONAL supported Wellspring in a thorough research exercise to understand the attitudes and opinions of Wellspring’s internal audiences. Through extensive quantitative and qualitative analysis with Wellspring’s members and volunteers across the country, NATIONAL’s Research and Insights team gathered compelling evidence to understand the crucial role Wellspring plays in the care of cancer patients, outside of treatment. Respondents reported on their personal experiences at the centers, and described the warm, welcoming feeling that Wellspring provides as a “home away from home.”

Notably, respondents across Wellspring’s locations shared similar feelings about the importance of Wellspring in their cancer journey. Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Wellspring continues to pivot their programing to their members online through Well on the Web.

Canadian Breast Cancer Network

The Canadian Breast Cancer Network (CBCN) is Canada’s leading patient-directed organization providing education, advocacy and a national network for individuals concerned about breast cancer. This includes those affected by metastatic breast cancer, also known as stage IV breast cancer or mBC, which occurs when cancer has spread from the breast to other parts of the body. Currently there is no cure, but it can be managed for many years with the right medication.

A challenge to mBC management though, is that access to medications varies from province to province. To help raise awareness of these discrepancies across Canada, CBCN approached NATIONAL to build an engaging website for its mBC Access Matters campaign. The website features a petition to encourage government decision makers to address access issues in a national pharmacare plan, and video testimonials from mBC patients and healthcare practitioners. Through this, NATIONAL and CBCN hope Canadians will ask themselves: “Why should where you live determine your quality of care,” and take action to help those living with mBC live better and longer lives. Read more about this project in our Portfolio section.

By creating space and advocating for individuals living with cancer, Wellspring, CBCN and organizations like them are an integral part to any cancer journey. With a community on their side, individuals with cancer can find emotional and social supports to help them during their experience with the disease.

——— Victoria Beales is a former Associate at NATIONAL Public Relations