On World Cancer Day, the Canadian Cancer Society is talking about one side of the disease that doesn’t get much attention – caring for people as they die.
“In the next 15 years there is going to be an increase in cancer incidence by 40 per cent, that is a large number,” said Donna Ziegler, director of cancer control with the Canadian Cancer Society, Saskatchewan division. “We know that the majority of people who use palliative care – eight out of 10 are advanced cancer patients.”
Many awareness and fundraising campaigns focus on the fight to survive and cancer research. However, Ziegler points out that the cancer society has a mandate to improve quality of life for all patients, including those at the end of their lives.
She says there are gaps in palliative care services depending on where you live. People who live in larger cities or towns usually have better access to end-of-life care than those who live in rural areas.
“How do we ensure that all the services are provided to all residences of Saskatchewan, that there are trained health professionals in palliative care throughout Saskatchewan?” she said.
Ziegler says people should have a choice of where they want to spend the end of their lives, whether that’s at a hospital, at a hospice centre or at home. Right now, she says those choices are not available and that points to a need for better palliative care in the province.
The cancer society is calling on people across the province to make palliative care an election issue for all provincial candidates and all political parties.
To mark World Cancer Day, people are invited to a free skate and hot chocolate fundraising and awareness event at the Co-operators Centre in Regina from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday night.