Lung cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Canada. It kills over 20,000 Canadians every year – more people than colorectal, breast, and prostate cancers combined. Despite being the number one killer, outcomes in lung cancer fall behind other cancers. All cancer patients deserve a chance to become cancer survivors, and this includes lung cancer patients too.
The Canadian Cancer Survivor Network (CCSN), in partnership with Lung Cancer Canada (LCC), hosted a legislative reception and breakfast at Queen’s Park on February 20th, 2019. Patients, survivors, caregivers and patient groups from various parts of Ontario attended and spoke with MPPs on the importance of ensuring that lung cancer patients receive opportunities in survivorship.
Speakers at the reception included The Honourable Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health and Long-Term Care; MPP France Gélinas, NDP Health Critic and Chief Opposition Whip; MPP John Fraser, Interim Liberal Leader; and MPP Mike Schreiner, Green Party MPP and leader of the Green Party of Ontario. The reception was sponsored by MPP Andrea Khanjin, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks.
Lung cancer patient advocate, Anne Marie Cerato, spoke about her journey to survivorship after being diagnosed at a young age with stage IV lung adenocarcinoma. She also celebrated ten years of being a lung cancer survivor with the audience, one that she described as a “unicorn” and “rarity” in the lung cancer community.
Over 30 MPPs from all parties as well as cabinet ministers attended and interacted with patients, survivors, caregivers and representatives from the patient community.
Groups from the patient community included After Breast Cancer, Dense Breasts Canada, Gilda’s Club Greater Toronto, Canadian PKU & Allied Disorders, Life Saving Therapies Network, Lymphedema Association of Ontario, Alberta Lymphedema Association, Lymphoma Canada, Ontario Lung Association, Prostate Cancer Canada, Canadian Cancer Society and Niagara College Canada.
Cancer patient advocates, survivors and caregivers from all over Ontario attended the event. These included:
- From the Greater Toronto Area and neighbouring cities: Anne Marie Cerato, Larry Frydman, Raymond Laflamme, Roz Brodsky, David Soberman, and Kathryn Hamilton
- From Niagara: MaryAnn Bradley
- From London: Palmerino Leone and Julianna Leone
- From Ottawa: Jill Hamer-Wilson and Andrea Redway
These fantastic patient advocates met with many MPPs, attended Question Period and shared their stories and input on how we can improve Ontario’s healthcare system in meetings with MPPs from all political parties.
“This experience gave me the opportunity to share with MPP France Gélinas, MPP Jill Andrew and MPP Daisy Wai, the early detection lung cancer screening pilot project. These conversations helped me to bring awareness and what it would mean to be able to treat lung cancer earlier than when it has advanced to Stage IV, and how this would be cost-effective in the long run.
I found that we still have a long way to go to end the stigma behind lung cancer and bring light to how important early detection in cancer is.” – MaryAnn Bradley
What We Said: Screening, affordable medications and patient engagement
Earlier detection is an important tool for improving long-term survival rates. Early lung cancer screening programs can also save our healthcare system money. According to Canadian studies, early treatment can save up to $15,000 per patient, as opposed to treating it at a later stage. We urge all political parties to continue their support by turning the early screening pilot programs in Ontario into permanent programs.
Scientific advancements continue to transform treatments available for lung cancer patients, offering them more options and the potential of a longer life for those with advanced cancers. However, there are long delays between Health Canada approval and provincial funding in Ontario – with one treatment taking more than 1400 days.
Ontario patients also have to pay for take-home oral cancer medications. This presents a barrier for many as these medications are not covered in the province, in contrast to Alberta and British Columbia.
We urge all political parties to take leadership and to bring Ontario’s healthcare system up to date. We also urge all political parties to ensure that the voices of those fighting cancer are heard, as the government consults on evolving our healthcare system to best meet the needs of patients, survivors and caregivers.
About lung cancer and the Right2Survive campaign:
The Canadian Cancer Survivor Network (CCSN) has partnered with Lung Cancer Canada (LCC) to increase awareness of lung cancer and to destigmatize this disease. The Right2Survive campaign, www.right2survive.ca, aims to build a community of support around the need to do more to improve lung cancer survivorship.