The Canadian Cancer Survivor Network (CCSN) held their annual Legislative Reception at Queen’s Park On October 26, 2017. The Reception was an opportunity for patients, MPPs and doctors to discuss cancer-associated thrombosis (CAT), and, despite the ongoing election-prep furor in the Ontario Legislature, the turn out to the event surpassed that of previous years. Over 30 MPPs attended, including 6 ministers. Representatives of several organizations attended, including Thrombosis Canada, Prostate Cancer Canada and the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada.
Cancer patients are at high risk for developing thrombosis (also known as blood clots). Chemo, injections and the damage caused by the cancer itself bring their odds of developing a clot to around 1 in 5. In fact, CAT is the next leading cause of death in cancer patients after the cancer itself. In Canada, there are close to 25,000 cases per year of cancer-associated thrombosis, which result in 2,300 deaths annually, and yet only 18% of Canadians consider cancer to be a risk factor for thrombosis.
Barrie MPP Ann Hoggarth was first to speak. Ms. Hoggarth has been our host for many years at Queen’s Park, and we are thankful for her tireless support. The previous day, she introduced CCSN Board Members and CEO to in the Legislature, calling attention to the cause of thrombosis awareness.
Next we heard statements from Jeff Yurek, Progressive Conservative Critic for Health and Long-term Care and MPP for Elgin-Middlesex-London, and France Gélinas, MPP for the Nickel Belt and New Democratic Party Critic for Health and Long-Term Care. Both stressed the need for an action plan to increase awareness of CAT, especially amongst cancer patients themselves.
Next to speak was Dr. James Douketis of Thrombosis Canada. Dr. Douketis reviewed the medical reasons for thrombosis in cancer patients. He pointed out that thrombosis kills more people in North America than breast cancer, HIV and motor vehicle accidents combined.
Jackie Manthorne, CCSN’s CEO, spoke next, underlining the need for the provincial government to foster awareness of CAT. Her talk was followed by that of Jennifer Hazel of the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada, who spoke from experience about the dangers of thrombosis. She explained that her diagnosis of blood clots took her by surprise. Her doctors did not inform her that she was at risk, and only brought it to her attention when scans revealed that her lungs were full of clots.
The event brought over 40 MPPs from all parties together with doctors, patients and advocates. It was featured on CTV Toronto’s nightly newscast, helping to spread awareness of thrombosis to the GTA.
Here are some additional photos of the event: