26 April 2012

Charlottetown -



Dr. Dagny Dryer (center), accompanied by her husband, John Rossignol, receives award for Excellence in Medicine and Health from Lt. Governor Frank Lewis

The Canadian Cancer Society, PEI Division, wrapped up Daffodil Month with a celebration of  volunteers and  professionals who have joined the society in the fight against cancer.  The Honourable Frank Lewis, Lt. Governor of Prince Edward Island,  presented the awards at a ceremony at Fanningbank on Thursday evening.

For the first time the National Award for Excellence in Medicine and Health was bestowed on a person from Prince Edward Island.  Dr. Dagny Dryer received the award  in recognition of her outstanding contribution to advancing the Canadian Cancer Society’s mission of reducing the burden of cancer in Canada.

“We are thrilled to have such a well-deserving Islander receive this prestigious national award.  Dr. Dryer’s gentle nature and professional manner has been a tremendous help to the thousands of patients she has treated,” says Lori Barker, Executive Director of the Canadian Cancer Society, PEI Division.

“Dr. Dryer always provides a calming influence during challenging and difficult times. Her dedication and compassion to those on a cancer journey are paramount to the mission of the Canadian Cancer Society,” says Barker.

Dr. Dryer was PEI’s first Medical Oncologist, beginning her practice in 1981 with only herself and one receptionist.   Much has changed since then and  Dr. Dryer played an instrumental role in that growth. 

“We now have a team of 76 medical and support staff,” says Liz Dobbin, manager of the P.E.I. Cancer Treatment Centre for Health P.E.I. Dr. Dryer’s belief in treating the whole person, and not just a tumour, has been instrumental in the establishment of an interdisciplinary team here at the provincial Cancer Treatment Centre that includes a social worker, spiritual care provider and a cancer patient navigator,” says Dobbin.  “Dr. Dryer was a driving force behind all of this.”

Dr. Dryer’s inspiration is both personal and professional.   “My sister died of breast cancer at age 34 when I was already practicing as the only medical oncologist in PEI, and bringing up two children,” says Dr. Dagny Dryer. “I didn’t know whether I could continue in this work but I hung on and became a better doctor from that experience. I owe much gratitude to my many patients over the years, especially those who are no longer with us,” says Dryer.

Her career has had a major impact on cancer control in Canada and on the lives of many Islanders.  Dr. Dryer served as Director of the Cancer Registry of PEI and was the Director of the PEI Oncology Clinic from 1981 to 2004.  She continues to have a very demanding practice. 

Another National Award, the Medal of Courage, was presented to Cornwall resident Barb Sampson.  Sampson received this award for exhibiting outstanding and exceptional courage in her personal battle with cancer, in addition to her significant contributions to the organization.  Sampson has been a volunteer with the Society for more than 20 years, most recently serving on the Board of Directors.

The Canadian Cancer Society, PEI Division, also presented numerous provincial awards. 

Volunteers Tappy MacMillan from Eldon, Kathleen Ross, North Pinette and 90-year-old Elaine Gallant from Summerside were recognized for long-term service and outstanding efforts in the fight against cancer.

UPEI student, Kathleen Murphy, received the Leaders of Tomorrow Award.  Murphy became involved with the Relay for Life when she was in 8th grade and continues to inspire others in her role as Co-chair of the new community Relay for Life in Kensington taking place in June.

A team from the Kensington Relay for Life, The Star Gazers, received the UFIT Community Spirit Award.  The Chairperson of the Relay for Life at UPEI, Dr. Christian Lacroix, was recognized with the Outstanding Contribution Award.

“The amount of time and effort these volunteers commit to the Relay for Life is incredibly impressive,” says Barker.  “Their dedication and fundraising success allows us to provide much needed support programs for people across P.E.I. battling cancer.”

The Medical and support staff at the Prince Edward Island Cancer Treatment Centre received the Eileen Fulford Memorial Award in recognition of the passion and energy they devote to cancer patients.  The staff consistently strives to be patient-centered and holistic in their approach to care.

Betty Newson, of New Glasgow, was presented with the Outstanding Service Certificate of Merit. Newson is a former chair of the board of the PEI Division and is currently the chair of the national board of directors of the Canadian Cancer Society.

“Betty has earned the respect of society members from across the country,” says Barker.  “Her leadership and dedicated service to the Canadian Cancer Society is truly inspirational.”

While these volunteers were specially recognized this year, the Canadian Cancer Society is incredibly grateful for the contributions of its many volunteers across Prince Edward Island.  “Without the commitment of these individuals – all 1,600 of them – we simply wouldn’t be as strong a force in the fight against cancer.  We thank them all for joining us in this incredibly important fight,” says Barker.



Members of "The Star Gazers" Relay for Life Team from Kensington, receive UFIT Community Spirit Award

Photos by: Martin Caird, Sandpiper Studios

The Canadian Cancer Society is a national community-based organization of volunteers whose mission is the eradication of cancer and the enhancement of the quality of life of people living with cancer. When you want to know more about cancer, visit our website www.cancer.ca or call our toll-free, bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1 888 939-3333.

For more information, please contact:

Lori Barker

Executive Director

Phone: 902-566-4007