The Smithers Healthy Living Centre held a brown bag lunch event last Thursday, informing 16 community members about local resources for people with cancer, as well as their families. RN Alice Christensen spoke to the crowd about available resources, as well as providing general information on cancer prevention, detection and treatment.
The talk started out with an emphasis on prevention. The most defining cause of cancer is actually age, so everyone is recommended to get regular checkups with their family doctor as they get older. Different tests are offered starting at different ages, but general practitioners will know when individuals should start getting regularly tested.
Christensen explained the diagnosis process, and the steps that have to happen before someone is actually diagnosed with cancer. She also went over various treatment options available, some of which may not be exactly what someone just diagnosed with cancer wants to hear.
“There are lots of different options, including ‘watch and wait,’ which sometimes is the best option,” she said.
Christensen also mentioned recent studies that suggest cancer patients willing to try preventative and holistic approaches to treatment often have better luck fighting the disease.
“Prevention is good at any stage, and at any stage you can make lifestyle changes,” she said.
There are a number of resources available in the Bulkley Valley both for those diagnosed with cancer and their families. Community Cancer Service at the Bulkley Valley District Hospital is the obvious place to start; with two doctors, three nurses and two clerical staff, many questions can be answered on the second floor of the hospital.
“You don’t need a referral to talk to the nurses,” said Christensen.
The Canadian Cancer Society also has an office on Broadway Avenue in Smithers, and can help with answers to questions about cancer care, financial assistance, transportation, support groups and many other topics. Christensen also mentioned the local Community Cancer Care Team, a group of people who raise money to help cover travel and accommodation costs for both cancer patients and their companion for treatment at approved centres in B.C. and Alberta.
“That is a unique group to Smithers, I haven’t heard of that existing anywhere else,” said Christensen.
She also pointed out that Community Cancer Service is thankful for ongoing help from the community.
“This community as a whole has been absolutely wonderful in donating funds to our unit,” she said.