Volunteer lay navigator Lorne Mackie is one of the friendly faces that greet new patients at the Alex and Jo Campbell Patient and Family Support Centre at the B.C. Cancer Agency’s Vancouver Island Centre on Lee Avenue.

Volunteer lay navigator Lorne Mackie is one of the friendly faces that greet new patients at the Alex and Jo Campbell Patient and Family Support Centre at the B.C. Cancer Agency’s Vancouver Island Centre on Lee Avenue.

New cancer centre sees added boost from community

Lay navigators key component to Patient and Family Care Facility

Three months after the B.C. Cancer Agency opened a patient care wing atop its Lee Avenue building, the 10,000-square-foot space is alive with staff, patients and volunteers – both those working one-on-one with clients and those behind the scenes, fundraising to optimize the services already in place.

When Wilma Taylor of the Order of the Eastern Star stopped by the Alex and Jo Campbell Patient and Family Support Centre with her fellow Queen City chapter members to make a donation on behalf of their organization, the person who led their tour of the supportive care facility was a volunteer lay navigator, a central component of the $10-million addition to the agency’s facility.

“I’m impressed,” Taylor said. “Everyone’s upbeat and positive; it’s much improved from when I was a kid.”

Taylor, co-organizer of the Starlight Pops Choir Swing Fever concert held earlier this year in support of the centre, alongside a group of fellow organizers, handed over a $4,000 cheque to staff and followed Lorne Mackie through the wing devoted to providing emotional and psychological support services.

The facility, which opened in March, includes a patient information library and a wellness room, and a station for volunteers such as Mackie, who are trained to lead patients through everything they need to know outside of treatment, from the moment of diagnosis.

“We guide them through that beginning stage – it’s a bumpy one,” Mackie said. “We discuss everything: finances, transportation, a list of questions to ask the doctor. Our role ends when they meet the oncologist.”

Though the donation from her Queen City chapter is relatively small, Taylor said, it makes a difference with chapters across B.C. and the Yukon contributing. The 146-year-old organization has donated to cancer treatment as far back as Taylor can remember, back to a time when her grandfather was receiving cobalt treatment at the outset of the technology.

“The treatment that they received at that time was very scary and now it’s more than hopeful. I can see a huge change not only in the way the patient is informed, but the way it’s a family thing – when one person gets cancer, everyone wants to know and to help.”

Shaun Lorhan, lead of navigation research for the B.C. Cancer Agency’s Vancouver Island Centre, lauded lay navigators such as Mackie for bridging some of the shortfalls in care.

“What we’ve heard from patients is that we do treatment really well, but we certainly have opportunities to improve our emotional care. Those navigators are really trying to understand from our patients’ perspective, whether it’s difficulty getting to the clinic or difficulty managing the people at home who may have their own health issues and concerns.”

This summer the wellness room will host an exercise study for patients with colorectal cancer and a yoga program aimed at managing cancer-related fatigue.

“Having that dedicated space has allowed us to look at new ways of enhancing care,” Lorhan said, noting her next focus will be on how patients transition out of care, back into the community and into the care of their family doctor.

“Years ago people used to tell you you’d get better, then we were really surprised when they died. We weren’t prepared. Now you don’t even think about it for more than a few minutes because there’s so much hope,” Taylor said. “Patients are not just a body or a cell, they’re treating the whole person.”

Initial funding for the project came via the 2009 Inspire the World campaign, supported by more than 1,000 Vancouver Island residents and business contributors. In 2013, more than 5,000 people on Vancouver Island are expected to be diagnosed with cancer. The B.C. Cancer Agency’s Vancouver Island Centre provides care to approximately 350 patients daily.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Rebecca Lang of Any Thyme Gardening installed a seed exchange library in front of her home on Beechwood Avenue. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
Victoria gardeners scramble to create local seed exchanges

Fairfield resident’s seed exchange an instant hit

On Feb. 27, a construction vehicle remained on the site of the former encampment between the Pat Bay Highway and McKenzie Avenue as part a clean-up effort. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Encampment between Pat Bay Highway, McKenzie Avenue cleared, all residents relocated

Efforts to disband encampment resumed after January fire

Sooke resident Nathan Hanson popped both his driver’s side tires on a pothole near a construction site on Sooke Road. Hanson said he was following a line of traffic and was just before the 17 Mile Pub when he drove over the pothole. (Photo contributed/Nathan Hanson)
Driver blows two tires on pothole near construction site on Sooke Road

Ministry of Transportation says keeping highways in good condition a priority

Environment Canada has issued a wind warning for Greater Victoria, with winds expected to get up to 70 km/h Friday morning. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Wind warning promises blustery Friday for Greater Victoria

Winds up to 70 km/h expected Friday morning

Passengers in rows 13 to 19 on Air Canada Jazz flight 8069 from Vancouver to Victoria Feb. 28 were exposed to a case of COVID-19. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
COVID-19 exposure found on flight from Vancouver to Victoria

Passengers in rows 13 to 19 on Air Canada Jazz flight 8069 Feb. 28 affected

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of March 2

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: How’s your butter?

Recent reports have some Canadians giving a second look to one of… Continue reading

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky, father of the Great One, dies at 82

Canada’s hockey dad had battled Parkinson’s disease and other health issues

The intersection of Melrose Street and Third Avenue. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Suspect in custody after two pedestrians struck in Port Alberni hit and run

RCMP asking for video footage, credit witnesses for quick arrest

(National Emergency Management Agency)
No tsunami risk to B.C. from powerful New Zealand earthquake: officials

An 8.1 magnitude earthquake shook the north of New Zealand Thursday morning

Comox Valley RCMP had access to 20 Street blocked off between Cousins and Choquette avenues as they conducted a raid of a house on the block. Photo by Terry Farrell
Comox Valley RCMP raid Courtenay problem house, several arrests made

Comox Valley RCMP conducted a raid of a problem house on 20th… Continue reading

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
Pandemic stress, isolation key factors as to why Canadians turned to cannabis, alcohol

Study found that isolation played key role in Canadians’ substance use

A Cowichan Valley mom is wondering why masks haven’t been mandated for elementary schools. (Metro Creative photo)
B.C. mom frustrated by lack of mask mandate for elementary students

“Do we want to wait until we end up like Fraser Health?”

Most Read