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Your Journey with Us

About your visit

Many of us have experienced the cancer journey, either personally or through a loved one. It is not an easy road to travel without the support and guidance of your health care provider. At the Vancouver Island Centre, while the main focus is on treating cancer, we also offer a wide variety of support services and education sessions to help you and your loved ones cope during this difficult time. Patients are provided with information at every step of the way, from referral to discharge, to make them knowledgeable about their diagnosis, symptoms and how to deal with lifestyle changes.

For information about how to prepare for your first visit and what happens during your first visit see:

For information about what to expect during chemotherapy see:

Coping with cancer

The effects of dealing with cancer can present unique challenges to your body, mind, relationships and lifestyle.  Our Coping with Cancer section has information that can help you in your daily life:

  • Nutrition information: available services, and commonly asked questions
  • Practical support: financial assistance programs, health-care coverage information, traveling for appointments, home care and supporting returning to work. View our “Financial Information for Cancer Patients” pamphlet and video clips right here
  • Emotional support: information about how to access counselling, support programs, deal with your emotions and access to our children’s website
  • Managing symptoms and side effects: information about what to look out for and how to manage them better
  • Advanced cancer and palliative support: information about what to expect as cancer advances.


Before your first visit

We understand how overwhelming your first visit can be. Our experienced team of staff and volunteers will endeavour to answer all your questions and concerns.

Before your first visit, one of our staff will call you to get some general information. This phone call will cover:

  • general personal information;
  • the names of physicians who are treating you now; and
  • whether you need any interpretation help or someone to drive you to your appointment.

On average, your appointment will be about two weeks after we are contacted by your physician.

What to do to prepare

During your first visit

Your first visit is for consultation and planning. You will meet some members of your team of health care professionals. They will learn about you and, together with you, make plans for your care. It is very unlikely you will receive any treatment on your first visit. At the end of your first visit, you will likely have some plans in place, either for further testing, treatment or other follow-up.

The Vancouver Island Cente is also a research centre and you may be offered an opportunity to participate in a clinical trial.

What to bring

  • Your BC Services / BC Care Card
  • 1 piece of photo ID
  • All current medications (this includes pain killers, vitamins, supplements, herbal remedies, etc)
  • List of questions to ask at your consultation (it is a good idea to bring a pen and notepad to record appointment dates, information, answers, etc)
  • A friend or relative
  • Reading glasses, if you use them, as there will be forms to fill and information to read
  • Completed Patient Reported Information and Symptom Management (PRISM) form

When you arrive

When you arrive for your appointment, please check in at Reception. You will be asked to present your BC Services / BC Care Card and one piece of photo ID.

If you have not already completed the Patient Reported Information and Symptom Management (PRISM) form, you will be asked to do so. This form will take around 30-40 minutes to complete. We encourage you to complete it at home prior to your first visit. You may also be asked to complete additional forms. 

You will then be directed to one of the clinics for your appointment with your oncologist (cancer specialist). A physical examination will be conducted by the oncologist and this will be an opportunity to ask any questions you may have. Having a family member or friend come with you is a great way to help you remember what was said. 

Altogether, your first visit will last about 2½ hours. 

You will be provided with an appointment card before you leave. This will include your primary oncologist's phone number, as well as the number to call to change appointments. It will also be the place where any upcoming appointments are recorded. You should carry this card with you whenever you return to the cancer centre. If you phone in, you will be asked for your chart number. Having this number available speeds up your service.

Other useful information

  • the Vancouver Island Centre is a non-smoking facility
  • please do not wear scented products
  • we ask patients and families not to use cell phones in the centre
  • animals other than assist dogs are prohibited in the building
  • refer to our Frequently Asked Questions for additional information including how to get to the centre, where to eat, where to stay, etc.
  • refer to the Vancouver Island Centre Directory for information about how to contact us
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