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Carly G

Carly G.

When Carly G. was just 16 years old, her father was diagnosed with metastatic colon cancer and given a prognosis of 6 months to live. In addition to shock and fear, Carly remembers being overwhelmed with questions: What happens now? What happens next? Who will help us? Carly is now an adult, working on her post-doctoral fellowship in biochemistry, but when her step-father started treatments for refractory lymphoma, she found herself again looking for answers to a mountain of questions.

Motivated by her experiences and the spirit of her father, Carly joined the Cancer Care Ontario Patient and Family Advisory Council. “I feel compelled to do all that I can to improve both the journey and the outcome for people living with cancer,” she says. In addition to making the cancer system more patient-centred—that is, giving patients the information and support they need to make decisions about their care if they choose to do so—she would like to see a system become easier to navigate.

“Patients need a navigator or care consultant to help move through diagnosis to treatment to survivorship and to answer questions about what each stage will look like. That would really ease patients’ minds.” Especially important, she says, is helping survivors smoothly and quickly transition back into the cancer system if needed.

Also needed is a person—or perhaps a technology—to manage all the patients’ information and ensure that everyone on the care team has access to it.  “If you have surgery, your results should be right there whether you are visiting your oncologist or your primary care physician.”

As a scientist specializing in cancer research and as an advocate, Carly says she has renewed hope that more patients will receive the right treatment at the right time and will live cancer free.