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

In wrapping up my posts as guest blogger for the month of May, I would like to tell you about our current activities and the new directions our research is taking.

In April 2013, the navigation research program joined forces with a larger team of researchers and health care providers to form a new research centre called the Alex & Jo Campbell Patient and Family Support Centre. This new centre within the BC Cancer Agency Vancouver Island Centre was made possible by the generous donations of our community through the BC Cancer Foundation’s Inspire the World campaign which saw a 10,000 square foot expansion dedicated to research and supportive care. The term supportive care acknowledges the full spectrum of needs experienced by patients including emotional, social, practical, psychological, informational and spiritual needs. Our team is interested in understanding these needs, developing innovative solutions to address them and ensuring that the programs we develop are beneficial from a patient’s perspective.

As we explore innovative solutions, we will continue focusing on navigation solutions, particularly the patient portal and the lay navigation model. We will also focus on survivorship care for those completing active treatment at the BC Cancer Agency. To further support patients throughout their cancer journey, a series of lifestyle interventions are being researched for their potential benefit to patients. Early this month, we partnered with Camosun College and began a research trial for colorectal patients, offering them a six week exercise study followed by three months of peer support.  Exercise has been shown to provide significant benefits to patients. However, maintenance of activity levels often declines at the end of a formal program. We hope that the model we offer will be more sustainable and yield better long term benefits for patients.

Patients have identified support to manage the symptoms and side effects of cancer treatment, in particular pain and fatigue as one of their priority need areas. Some early studies have shown that yoga can provide benefits for reducing cancer related fatigue for breast cancer patients. With cancer related fatigue being the most common side effect, we will explore how a restorative yoga program, using trained community volunteers, is a feasible, sustainable and effective program regardless of disease site.

We are extremely grateful to the BC Cancer Foundation and its donors for supporting our work in supportive care research. Through each research discovery we make, we better support our patients and improve the quality of their lives as they go through their cancer journeys. I’m proud to be part of this team, and I look forward to the year ahead as we charter new waters and discover new solutions through connecting with brave patients who share their thoughts and experience on how care and research can be improved for the patients of tomorrow. Thank you to all of you who support this valuable research program.

Shaun.