Four days in Vancouver

April 8, 2009

I just spent the past four days in Vancouver. Not only did I get to appreciate the beautiful scenery, but I got to meet with psychosocial partners across the country to discuss survivorship, transitions and transformations. This discussion took place at the Canadian Association of Psychosocial Oncology (CAPO) Conference. Every year, CAPO meets and puts the focus on a different topic.

By reuniting professionals and community-based organization from every province, CAPO prjovides incredible networking opportunities as well as access to what is done elsewhere. I had the opportunity to hear keynote speakers talk about survivorship and research, physical activity, and psychotherapeutic techniques to help survivors. We also had access to a variety of workshops on different topics. For example, I attended a presentation about research and clinical developments in professionally facilitated online support groups and I learned about Younger and Wiser, the support group for young women with breast cancer in Winnipeg, Manitoba. I also got the great pleasure to attend the presentation of a member of the YACC family, Shalimar Manuel, talk about Thryvorship: Exploring the transitions and transformations inherent in the young adult thyroid cancer journey (the subject of her thesis). Very interesting and so inspiring to see a survivor talk about survivorship!

The emphasis of the conference was not on the young adult reality, but interest in young adults was definitely part of the conference. Norma D’Agostino, Lynne Robinson, Kim Edelstein, and I had prepared a workshop about young adults. Our main goal was to bring together clinicians and researchers and allow them to share their own experiences with YA initiatives, identify current practices, understand barriers, and learn from each other so that we could enhance program development and foster national collaborations. The workshop was very well attended (more than 24 people) and was very stimulating. Like many survivors, professionals working with and for young adults are isolated. At the end of the workshop, we wrote down our emails so we can better communicate together.

The CAPO conference was followed by Canadian Psychosocial Oncology Partners (CPOP) meeting, a one-day meeting to help build connection between professionals in oncology across Canada. Canada is a big country and the global knowledge is much greater than what we actually have access to so it was great to make more connections.

CPOP is working on creating a website where the psychosocial community can come together to share and gain knowledge. Our presence at that meeting assures young adults are considered and their voices heard. Our inputs are always welcomed and actually expected. We should have access to the website in the next couple of months. For YACC, this will be a great opportunity to promote and work on our programs, and to connect with potential researchers and collaborators.  We say two heads are better than one, well imagine 100 heads! Scary picture, but amazing resources!

I’m now back in Newfoundland; I missed my new city of adoption. It’s time to get to work on some of those new ideas!

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