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World Cancer Day: Experience a day in the life

The fight against cancer isn’t simple – it’s an ongoing, global effort. After all, cancer isn’t one disease but more than 100. It takes many brilliant scientists, compassionate people and a lot of support. But every day we’re making more and more progress – together.

On any given day, countless Canadians are taking action to help change and save lives. To mark World Cancer Day, meet some of these incredible people and experience a day in the life of a survivor, researcher, advocate, and cancer information specialist.

A smiling couple.

Waking up to hope: Meet Cynthia

When Cynthia was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer, she felt like nothing made sense. Not sure what to expect, she turned to the Canadian Cancer Society for information.

When she needed a place to stay during treatment away from home, she decided to stay at our lodge in Montreal rather than traveling 70 kilometres from home in winter weather.

At the lodge, she felt welcomed by staff, volunteers and other residents. She found comfort in establishing a routine, including morning walks in nearby parks.

“Those walks helped me deal with my stress,” says Cynthia. “Deep in my thoughts, soaking in the beauty of the day and feeling glad to be alive.”

Cynthia is one of 268 cancer patients who stay in one of our lodges across the country every day.

“Living with people facing similar experiences with cancer and sharing our stories helped me in my recovery,” says Cynthia. “Some people I met had tough prognoses but also had a strong will to live. They left me with a life lesson: to live in the now, and take every moment in.”

Today, Cynthia is cancer-free and remains positive about her health and future.

“Life is good.”

A female scientist with a microscope

Asking questions, making discoveries: Meet Sheila

With funding from one of our Innovation Grants, Dr Sheila Singh discovered a rare type of cell responsible for initiating the spread of lung cancer to the brain. Her work could make a life-changing difference for patients – guiding better treatment decisions and leading to new therapies.

As a scientist and professor at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, she is not only on the frontlines of innovative research, but she’s also inspiring the next generation of cancer researchers.

On any given day, Dr Singh meets with colleagues to review treatment options for children with brain cancer, she talks to her lab team about their research, and teaches a biochemistry course on stem cells. It’s clear that her days are dedicated to the fight against cancer through research.

Every day, approximately 300 researchers supported by the Canadian Cancer Society, like Dr Singh, are searching for answers. To find them, it means asking more questions along the way.

“Every time we ask a question and find an answer it’s an important step toward finding new tests and treatments to improve and save lives.”

A woman holding a sign that says, “Asbestos kills”.

Advocating for change: Meet Trish

For more than 20 years, Trish had been active in raising awareness and funds for the Canadian Cancer Society. After both her parents died of asbestos-related cancer, she found herself pulled into advocacy.

“Initially, I was too devastated to do anything,” says Trish. However, when she saw how many people in her life were being affected by asbestos in Sarnia, she decided to take part in activities to support the ban of this toxic material.

And she wasn’t alone. In one day, she joined hundreds of others in a march through the city to shine a much-needed spotlight on the issue.

“People need to know,” says Trish. “People need to be aware.”

Thanks to advocacy efforts from passionate Canadians like Trish, change is happening. In 2016, the federal government announced a ban on the manufacture, use, import and export of asbestos in Canada by 2018.

Providing care from afar: Meet Jan

Every day, more than 34,200 people from across the country reach out to the Canadian Cancer Society for trusted information and caring support. A cancer diagnosis can be confusing, frightening and overwhelming, but our cancer information specialists, like Jan, are here to help.

With a background in nursing, Jan is dedicated to sharing her knowledge with people living with cancer, their loved ones and anyone else with questions – one phone call or email at a time.

“The other day I received a call from a woman who had just learned she has uterine cancer,” says Jan. “She got up the courage after a sleepless night to call us. I was able to give her some information about her diagnosis and the usual treatment options, and I think that helped ease her anxiety a little.”

More than a source of information, Jan is also a shoulder to lean on.

“We get hundreds of calls a day and every person’s situation is different,” says Jan. “Some people call because they have cancer in their family and they want to know how to prevent it. Others are patients who are worried about coping emotionally or how they’re going to make ends meet while they’re off work. Some want to understand more about their specific diagnosis and treatment options. All our cancer information specialists are trained to listen and understand each person’s needs and then try to help as much as possible.”

Thanks to support from donors and volunteers, the Canadian Cancer Society offers a variety of programs and services for people affected by cancer, including transportation, lodges, support and information programs.

Take action this World Cancer Day to make a difference in the lives of those affected by cancer.