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Planning Requires Great Patients


Together we will…
put patients at the centre of cancer care

High-quality health care demands a shift from a provider-centred to a patient-centred approach. To that end, Cancer Care Ontario launched the Patient and Family Advisory Council in 2011. Patient and family advisors have been embedded in the development of this plan from the start.

Here, in conversation about the development of this plan, are the co-chairs of the Executive Sponsor group, Garth Matheson (Vice-President, Planning and Regional Programs) and Joanne MacPhail (Co-Chair, Patient and Family Advisory Council, and a cancer survivor – read Joanne's story).

Joanne MacPhail and Garth Matheson

Joanne MacPhail, Co-Chair, Patient and Family Advisory Council and Garth Matheson, Vice-President, Planning and Regional Programs

Garth Matheson: Ever since Cancer Care Ontario undertook the development of Canada’s first provincial cancer strategy, our goal has been to improve the quality of care for current and future patients. With this plan, we are taking a transformational leap forward in engaging patients and families throughout the development process. They are partners in the truest sense of the word.

Joanne MacPhail: Those of us who have personally experienced cancer have a very different perspective of the cancer system than healthcare providers or administrators. We have lived through the treatments, cared for loved ones, and contended with all the physical and emotional ups and downs that cancer entails.

I know from my experience and from speaking with many other cancer survivors that patients fare better physically and psychologically when they have access to the information they need to actively participate in their care (if they choose to do so).

Garth Matheson: Patients’ insights helped us identify our key priorities for this plan, advocating for care that improves their quality of life and is safe, effective and accessible, no matter where they live. Some told us about the challenges of moving from one stage of care to another. Others expressed concerns about the sustainability of the cancer system for future generations.

Joanne MacPhail: Importantly, these themes cut across the cancer care continuum. No matter where people are in their cancer experience—from prevention to screening, diagnosis and treatment through to recovery and survivorship or end-of-life—their needs will be addressed by this plan.

Garth Matheson: Everyone involved in the development of this plan is very aware that any one of us might need the cancer system one day. This is a plan for all Ontarians.

Joanne MacPhail: On behalf of all the patients and families who participated, I want to thank everyone at Cancer Care Ontario for their commitment and leadership in engaging patients. We now have a responsibility to do what we can to help this plan succeed by being active participants in our healthcare.

Garth Matheson: We are also grateful for the involvement and support of all those who have provided input, including clinical, research and administrative leaders, Regional Cancer Programs, healthcare professionals, provincial health agencies, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and other external stakeholders. Working with our valued partners brings us ever closer to achieving our vision of creating the best cancer system in the world.