March 11 marks the second anniversary of the official declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout the challenges, change and stress of the past two years, we've heard remarkable stories about the compassion and kindness of our staff and physicians and the world of difference it has made to our patients.
Time and time again, our staff and physicians have adapted to protect our patients and ensured that vital, time-sensitive cancer care continued with minimal interruptions.
Here are stories of patients sharing their gratitude and appreciation:
Janine Rochelle Porter experienced firsthand what it was like to receive life-saving treatment at BC Cancer. It was only eight days into Janine's cancer treatment when extreme weather, flooding and mudslides hit our province last November. Devastated and trapped in Hope, Janine was worried about the future of her health as the floods prevented her from getting to BC Cancer – Abbotsford for her treatments.
Not long after, Janine received a call from BC Cancer – Abbotsford clinical services manager Daljeet Sandhu. Daljeet and her team arranged a helicopter to bring Janine to BC Cancer – Abbotsford to ensure that she continued her radiation therapy treatments.
"I still remember the call and hearing Daljeet's words. She told me, 'Don't worry, we are working to get you here.' She kept in touch with me and told me, 'Pack your bags, there will be a helicopter coming to pick you up soon to bring you to Abbotsford airport,'" remembers Janine.
When Janine arrived at BC Cancer – Abbotsford after her flight, staff welcomed her with warmth and compassion. "Everyone was cheering when I arrived on the radiation floor. I was in so much awe. I have so much gratitude to all BC Cancer staff," said Janine.
"Everyone was so respectful and easy going considering all that they may be going through."
Janine is forever grateful for the care she received at BC Cancer.
"To all those who got me through my journey, thank you for saving my future."
Facing cancer is a difficult journey and it becomes even more challenging during a pandemic. Carol Johnson praises the staff and physicians at BC Cancer – Prince George for their compassion and care throughout this time.
Her positive interactions with BC Cancer began even before she walked through the front doors. In September 2021, Carol was diagnosed with gastro-esophageal cancer and was advised that she would need a PET scan following her initial CT scan. Worried about her prognosis, she feared that the cancer had spread throughout her body.
"I went to the darkest place and thought that my cancer had spread. I called BC Cancer to talk to someone who could speak about my PET Scan. Within five minutes, a nurse named Chelsea called back to comfort me and answer my questions. She explained to me that the PET scan would be to plan and direct my radiation therapy. This changed my outlook and took me out of my darkest place. I hadn't even met anyone at the clinic, and already I had been introduced to the responsiveness and the quality of communication."
This responsiveness continued throughout Carol's treatment at BC Cancer – Prince George. She remembers the empathy and personalized care she received during radiation therapy. "On the day of my appointment for my radiation tattoos, I forgot that I had to fast for three hours before the appointment, so I arrived having just eaten a full lunch. In tears, I apologized to Anthony and Janet from Radiation Therapy, and they managed to fit me into a cancellation spot the next day," said Carol.
To express her gratitude, Carol suggested that the radiation tattoos could be shaped like hearts, which she was then told was not possible as they need to be the size of pencil-shaped dots.
"When my radiation therapy tattoos were added, Janet drew a heart around my tattoo with red Sharpie. I paid the radiation team back by coming in at least once a week with my husband's Sharpie artwork around my tattoo, and a good time was had by all."
The pandemic has increased the need for safety precautions at all BC Cancer centres with frequent sanitation, physical distancing, and masking. In addition, staff have mentioned to Carol how much they miss the friendly faces of volunteers, along with their coffee cart for patients, therapy dogs, and donations of hats, afghans, and quilts for patients undergoing chemotherapy.
Carol is tremendously grateful to all the staff and physicians across BC Cancer for supporting her through this cancer journey.
"Every person that I have dealt with at BC Cancer has been so professional, caring, responsive, and has treated me like a person, not a diagnosis. Thank you to all at BC Cancer. You are my heroes!"
Gerard Young has been a patient at BC Cancer – Victoria for the past eight years. He credits Dr. John Paul McGhie and Victoria centre staff who have played an integral part in his cancer care and ensuring that he continues receiving timely treatments during the pandemic. Together they discuss plans and options to ensure that Gerard receives the care he needs to continue to live his life. "Dr. McGhie told me, 'You have options, you have choice and I'll support you with whatever you do.'"
While the pandemic has been challenging for many and especially those who are facing cancer, Gerard shared that he continues to receive great care from BC Cancer – Victoria. This has enabled him to continue to live his life, spend time with his loved ones and do the things he enjoys.
"Dr. McGhie's theory is you have to live your life and the pandemic hasn't affected much of my care," said Gerard.
Since the pandemic, BC Cancer has implemented numerous safety protocols to protect patients – many of whom are immunocompromised or clinically vulnerable to COVID-19. "BC Cancer has taken great precautions to continue their care and protect their patients. With everything going on, staff and physicians continue to be supportive. There's never panic at BC Cancer – it's a very calm and supportive environment to be in. I've lucked out on the care at BC Cancer."
He calls BC Cancer his family and expresses gratitude for the great care he continues to receive despite the pandemic.
"With everything going on, staff and physicians continue to be supportive. I like seeing them every two weeks. I miss them when I'm away from there. BC Cancer is like family to me."
To read more messages of thanks from BC Cancer patients, go to bccancer.bc.ca/thanks