In the Neuro-Oncology Group at the BC Cancer Agency, we are driven to use our experience to improve the flow and breadth of care for patients. It is not sufficient to simply watch hundreds, actually thousands, of reactions to those awful words, “you have brain cancer.” We have used these observations to answer the question: How can we make this situation better?
Cancer is a diagnosis that robs one of control—the apparent control—we have over life and dreams such as where are we going on vacation, when are we going to witness our child’s graduation, what are we going to do in retirement, and so on.
Upon hearing the word “cancer” tumble out of the surgeon’s mouth—in a heart beat—one loses all control. And loss of control begets fear, which begets helplessness. Also lost is the control over time—time to our next doctor’s consultation, next MRI scan, next treatment cycle….
The antidote to all this is information, knowledge and understanding. Over the past two years, we have made a dedicated effort to increase the access to information, knowledge and understanding to all brain tumour patients. I’ll talk more about those efforts next.