Strengthening the Voice of Liver Cancer Patients in Ontario

“Today is a very special reception for us,” shared Jackie Manthorne, President & CEO of the Canadian Cancer Survivor Network, to over 56 guests which included Ministers, MPPs and cancer patients, caregivers and survivors at Queen’s Park.

L to R: Jackie Manthorne (CCSN), Carrie Makins, Shannon Spoelstra, and Eileen Sankar (daughters of Norm), and Sharon Jamison (Norm’s widow).

On Monday, April 29, 2019, the Canadian Cancer Survivor Network (CCSN) hosted a legislative reception and luncheon in the Main Legislative Building of Queen’s Park. The focus of the event was to raise awareness about the facts and myths about liver cancer, and he timeliness, affordability, and access to treatments for liver cancer patients in Ontario. The reception also honoured the memory of those who lost their lives to liver cancer, including the late Norm Jamison, NDP MPP for Norfolk during the 35th Parliament from 1990 to 1995.
Every year, 2,500 Canadians are diagnosed with liver cancer and 1,200 will die from the disease in 2019. Liver cancer is on the rise in Ontario, having increased at the rate of 3.9% per year for the past 30 years. It is also one of the most common secondary cancers diagnosed.
Despite these statistics, there is little awareness about liver cancer. Patients and families are struggling to receive timely and quality cancer care because of a lack of screening programs, a shortage in specialists who can treat it, and the cost of liver cancer treatments.
Carrie Makins, daughter of the late Norm Jamison, delivered remarks on behalf of her family and shared their experience in caregiving for their father when he was seriously ill.

L to R: Carrie Makins, Sharon Jamison (Norm’s widow), Shannon Spoelstra, and Eileen Sankar. Andrea Husted, the remaining daughter, was unable to attend the reception.

“My father worked tirelessly for his constituents and in his portfolio in Industry, Trade and Technology. Even in retirement, you could always find my Dad chatting with every person he passed by on a walk or every person he sat next to in a restaurant. He loved to hear their stories and he made friends everywhere he went,” she said.
“In the early months of 2017, life as we knew it changed. My father was diagnosed with liver cancer. It was far too advanced and we learned that the only treatment that would potentially save my father’s life would cost my parents $19,000! My sisters and I decided to start a GoFundMe campaign in hopes of helping to offset some of the financial burden.”
While the Jamison family was fortunate to have a large social network that helped them to raise the funds within four days, they were too late. Norm’s health had deteriorated. On October 3, 2017, Norm lost his life to cancer.
“Norm Jamison was a fighter. Some of you worked with him and knew him well. He sat in this very room with you. I know he would be standing here right now instead of me if he could,” Carrie added.

Speakers at the reception also honored Norm Jamison. MPP Toby Barrett, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, was Norm’s successor. MPP Barrett has known the Jamison family for more than 30 years, and last March he gave a beautiful tribute to Norm and his family in the Legislature. Regardless of their political differences, MPP Barrett relayed how he and Norm had a genuine camaraderie as they represented the constituents of Haldimand-Norfolk.

PC MPP for Haldimand-Norfolk, Toby Barrett.

MPP Gilles Bisson, Opposition House Leader, served with MPP Norm Jamison in the 35th Parliament. He highlighted memories of working with Norm in Cabinet meetings and on House Duty.

NDP MPP for Timmins, Gilles Bisson.

Dr. Amol Mujoomdar, an interventional radiologist at the London Health Sciences Centre who treated Norm, delivered remarks by video.

There is no doubt that Norm Jamison was missed and his irreplaceable contribution to the Ontario legislature will be remembered.

Groups from the healthcare and patient community included After Breast Cancer, the Lymphedema Association of Ontario, Prostate Cancer Canada, the Canadian Partnership Against Canada, the University Health Network as well as cancer patient advocates, survivors and caregivers from various regions of the province.

Jackie Manthorne reminded guests that “When we are at Queen’s Park, we make opportunities for MPPs, cancer patients, survivors and cancer organizations to meet to raise awareness of the healthcare and cancer care issues facing those living with cancer. That is why we are here today.”

L to R: Jaymee Maaghop (CCSN), Mona Forrest (CCSN), Jennifer Hazel (patient advocate), Reno Leone (patient advocate), Jackie Manthorne (CCSN), Julianna Leone (patient advocate), Carrie Makins (patient advocate)

What is liver cancer?

Liver cancer begins in hepatocytes, the cells that line the liver. Sometimes the cells start growing out of control and can cause hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).

Liver cancer risks:

  • Chronic liver disease.
  • Hepatitis B or C.
  • Long-term use of anabolic steroids.
  • Occupational exposure to toxic substances.
  • Cirrhosis of the liver.

Liver cancer myths:

  • Only heavy drinkers get liver cancer.
  • Healthy people don’t get liver cancer.
  • Liver cancer is completely preventable.

The Canadian Cancer Survivor Network is the voice for liver cancer patients in Canada
Early in 2018, CCSN addressed the need for awareness on liver cancer by creating a new information portal on our website. We also established a twitter account about liver cancer, hosted a free educational webinar about primary liver cancer and conducted research focused on Canadian liver cancer patients and caregivers. We heard from patients, caregivers and healthcare professionals and created an advisory council of individuals affected by liver cancer. This is how we met the Jamison’s and learned of their story.

To learn more or to join our Liver Cancer Advisory Council, contact Jackie Manthorne at or Jaymee Maaghop at