Lead, Navigation Research, BC Cancer Agency – Vancouver Island Centre

Welcome to my Partners in Discovery Blog. My name is Shaun Corrine Lorhan and over the next four weeks, I will be sharing with you the research work I am doing in patient navigation at the BC Cancer Agency’s Vancouver Island Centre.  

Today, I would like to introduce myself and how I came to work for this incredible organization. After graduating from the University of Western Ontario with a Bachelor of Social Work, I worked in the not-for-profit sector for eleven years developing and offering programs and services in the field of victim assistance. In each of the organizations that I worked, training and supporting volunteers was a fundamental part of my role. When the opportunity arose in January 2001 to start up the volunteer program at the Vancouver Island Centre, I jumped at the chance. At that moment, I had no idea how my career path was going to change.

I was welcoming visitors to the Vancouver Island Centre during an open house in March 2001, when I met a woman whose story touched me deeply. This young woman had been diagnosed with cancer two weeks earlier and she was frantic to know what was happening to her. Her anxiety was palpable. I was struck by the desperation that she had to be feeling in order to approach someone in the midst of a public open house, where approximately 6,000 people had walked through our doors for a tour that day. I knew there had to be a better way to meet the needs of our patients. I spent the next two years developing volunteer roles to enhance the patient and family experience. But it wasn’t until taking my Master of Arts in Leadership and Training at Royal Roads University from 2003-2005 that I was able to truly see the potential for improvements in our supportive care programs.  

When I returned to work in 2006 from maternity leave, I was given the task of leading a team in assessing the gaps in our care system and identifying opportunities for improvement. I was encouraged to pursue my research interests and apply for research grants. I am so very grateful for the support, encouragement and mentorship that I received that has allowed me to follow my heart, my passion and my belief that we could make a difference. To Anne Burgess and Drs. Ivo Olivotto, Wayne Beckham, Brad Nelson — thank you for believing in me.  And to the generous donors to the BC Cancer Foundation, thank you for your tremendous financial support that has made these research opportunities a reality.  

I look forward to the next few weeks in which I will share my research in patient navigation and the improvements in care that can be experienced at the Alex & Jo Campbell Patient & Family Support Centre.