Archive for March, 2012

Survivor Series: “Aimes-tu la vie”

Lorraine Cordeau, whose late husband, Canadian singer, musician and producer Georges Thurston, known as “Boule Noire,” was the CCAC’s spokesperson, shares her story of how the CCAC impacted their lives during his battle with colorectal cancer:

“When Georges was diagnosed with a Level IV Colorectal Cancer, Barry Stein called us right away to tell us about his own experience and the resources and the services offered by his association. This gesture truly encouraged Georges to pursue his treatments and myself to better understand what he was going through and how I could help.

What was so nice is that people came to him (Georges – who used his celebrity status to advocate for the CCAC) and said thank you, thanks to you I’ve been through some tests or colonoscopies and that saved my father etc. My husband was so pleased about it. And I was also thinking, what would I have done without the CCAC? They were so helpful throughout the whole ordeal.

And when he left us, he even had a very serene smile kind of saying …mission accomplished…

And I feel (like Georges) that we should all support the association and its mission in our own way.”

Survivor Series: “Optimism is better than despair”

Special thanks to Patrick Connors – son of Jim Connors for sharing his father’s battle with Colorectal Cancer.

“For me, there was a time when it was merely a word. A scary, alien word, yes, but still just a word. Cancer. That time is a distant, innocent memory.

Six years ago, when Dad was diagnosed with colorectal cancer, that alien word invaded our family. Four years ago it took Dad away from us — his loving family and friends — amidst his prime.

Still scary but no longer alien, cancer has a different meaning to me now. It is too familiar and brings with it many intense associations, memories and feelings. Pain. Anger. Confusion. Stress. Anguish. Unrelenting longing.

But along with the negative associations, memories and feelings there is the positive.

First and foremost amongst these is the memory of how Dad chose to approach his condition. He was optimistic despite a bleak outlook, positive despite great pain, and was immensely concerned with how his illness and the chance of death would impact the lives of those who loved him. And he chose to help others with the same illness. He got involved in the CCAC and became an advocate. He pushed for greater awareness about colorectal cancer, for early screening programs and for funding for effective cancer drugs.

Dad believed in and supported the CCAC. Through education, support and advocacy the CCAC provides help to many individuals like Dad and families like ours. It is a positive balance during dreadfully negative times. I continue to support the CCAC after his death because its work provides me with hope for a day when people know full-well about the cancer word but know it in a way that is different — a way where cancer is less scary, less painful, and where the only stories are ones of survival.”

Survivor Series: “Life is full of challenges, but no challenge is insurmountable”

Becky (Pink) de Champlain

“Colon cancer is often silent and insidious – I can attest to that. At only 30 years of age and with virtually no symptoms or family history I was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer. I owe a debt of gratitude to my family doctor who by accident (or perhaps divine intervention) ticked a box for a lab test on some routine bloodwork that came back suspicious for colon cancer. She, as well as several specialists, tried to reassure me that it was very unlikely that at my age I could have such a disease. But my insistence on having further testing was justified when a tumour was detected in my colon during a colonoscopy.

A whirlwind of more tests and doctor appointments followed. Despite metastases (tumours which spread outside the colon) being detected in my liver and lymph nodes, my doctors were confident that with surgery and chemotherapy I would have a good chance of overcoming this disease. And so it began. In February 2010 I had surgery to remove half my colon and two-thirds of my liver. After six weeks of recovery I started on a six month course of chemotherapy. This proved hard on my body and very challenging on my mind and spirit. On the bright side of things, the time off of work afforded me more time to spend with my young son (who was not even two when I was diagnosed) and when I felt well we enjoyed lots of quality time at our family cottage.

Now, two years later I am doing well and despite a setback last year when another tumour was found in my liver, the outlook remains good. It will be years before I know whether I am cancer free and so I continue to live on a roller-coaster of blood tests and scans searching for any signs of return of cancer in my body. I credit the support of dear friends, family and colleagues with helping me through the tough times. I am committed to fundraising and raising awareness of colon cancer screening. I have benefitted from the support and education programs offered by the Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada since becoming a member shortly after my diagnosis. I am proud to be involved for a second year with the Get Up There ski challenge which provides generous funds to cancer organizations to help continue public awareness campaigns.

Life is full of challenges, but no challenge is insurmountable. I am looking forward once again to reaching the top of Wentworth Mountain with family and friends by my side.”


The Giant Colon’s presence at the K Rock Centre in Kingston on March 9, 2012, gave Kingston spectators a unique opportunity to interact with and be informed by the giant colon. During this stop, the GC was located near the entrance in the Kingston arena prior to and during a Junior A hockey game between Kingston and Mississauga, held in honour of Hugh Ball and other OHA players who died of colorectal cancer in recent years. Hugh was very active in Junior hockey in the Kingston area and his widow Betty Ball helped organize this event in his memory.

Betty spoke at the event about her husband, his battle with CRC and his fight to live:

March is Colorectal Cancer Month. One local sportsman we remember tonight is Hubert Ball, whose life was claimed by colorectal cancer over 15 years ago. If Hugh were alive today he’d urge you to get screened early and to not ignore the danger signs. We invite you to visit the giant colon and tabletop display in the foyer. The exhibit, owned by the Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada, is sponsored by the OHA, local health providers and Cancer Care Ontario. It is an amazing teaching tool.

Hockey was Hubert’s first love, taking him through Kingston’s Minor ranks from JR B to JR A, and ending with Cataraqui Oldtimers.

His second passion was bird watching and carving. Till near the time of his death in 1996, Hubert spent a major part of each day on decoy making and painting, competing on the local & national scene with longtime OHL friends, Richard Cherry & Bob Collins.

What stands out over and above his hobbies is his love of family and life itself. He was proud of his wife and children and his own achievements. He fought valiantly to live a little longer and enjoy each moment. In his fight for life he was heroic.

On behalf of myself and my family and the Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada, we thank tonight’s sponsors for the opportunity to remember Hugh and all those whose lives have been touched by colorectal cancer. Awareness, screening and simple acts of kindness are our best tools in fighting this preventable disease.”

Top left: Betty Ball with her son David Ball
Top right: Our own Frank Pitman, Nathan De Bono and Adrien Mitchell in front of the GC
Bottom left: Dr. Hugh Langley, Gwen Potts
Bottom right: Dr. Hugh Langley, Lori Van Manen (MGR of Community Prevention)


Get Up There is a public awareness movement, fundraiser and event to raise the awareness in Nova Scotia about Colorectal Cancer that took place on March 2, 2012. The mission was to raise the awareness for the prevention and reduce the stigma associated with the colorectal screening.

Beginning at sunrise on March 2, 2012, the 80 participants spent until sundown (or some part of the day) skiing, hiking or snowshoeing up to the top of Ski Wentworth. After warming up in the hut, drinking water and eating light healthy food (and oh, just a few candies!!!) they all walked, jog or skied back down. An after ski event was held at Ducky’s at the end of the day. Once again the event was a success and raised more than 30,000$. The final numbers will be revealed soon.

All and all, it was a fun event, well organized with a great mission. Congratulations to Becky Pink, a great ambassador to CCAC, and all participants and organizers.

For more info on event please see the web site

Top Left: Special Thanks to all Our Sponsors
Top Middle: Participants Getting Ready to Climb the Mountain
Top Right: On the Hike Up Mount Westworth
Middle Left: The BOYS team on their way to the top
Middle Middle: Finally at the top
Middle Right: Warming Up In The Hut
Bottom: Mark and Leslie Gascoigne, GUT creators whose trampoline company manages the event

Pan-Canadian Ostomy Supplies Reimbursement Policy Reform Meeting

Montreal – March 2nd, 2012

On March 2nd, 2012, the Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada (CCAC) hosted the Pan-Canadian Ostomy Supplies Reimbursement Policy Reform Meeting at the Montreal Airport Marriott Hotel.

In attendance were key healthcare professionals from across the country, contributing their expertise and experience towards the drafting of a consensus document for the reform of policies governing the reimbursement of ostomy supplies in Canada. Presentations throughout the day by colorectal surgeon Dr. Jean-Francois Latulippe, enterostomal therapy nurse (ETN) Joanne Hoeflok, psychosocial oncology specialist Dr. Mary Jane Esplen, economist Dr. Chris Longo, as well as our dedicated meeting chairs Gwen Turnbull and Louise Forest-Lalande (both ETNs), prepared the group with a comprehensive background on ostomies in Canada.

Issues such as the psychosocial impact of living with an ostomy, the psychosocial link between improved Quality of Life (QoL) and optimal reimbursement, the health care costs associated with ostomy-related complications resulting from suboptimal reimbursement of ostomy supplies, and the complex health care system within which the current reimbursement policies are embedded were explored. The meeting was a glowing success as the group reached consensus on all proposed statements.

Stay tuned as the CCAC endeavours to have the consensus document published in one of Canada’s prominent journals, which will then be subsequently utilized for advocacy purposes when addressing the various provincial policy makers overseeing the reimbursement of ostomy supplies.


Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month is here and the Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada (CCAC) takes great pride in announcing this year’s new campaign SAVEBUTTS.CA gauged to encourage colon cancer screening in Canada as well as support for the CCAC’s mission of colorectal cancer Awareness, Education, Support and Advocacy.

The CCAC continues to promote the introduction of population based screening programs in every province and to lead the way in encouraging individuals to get screened through various television, radio and print campaigns coupled with the use of grass roots programs spearheaded by The Giant Colon exhibits that criss-cross the country.

“New research led by the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in the US has for the first time found that removing precancerous polyps may halve the risk of dying from the disease. This underscores the CCAC’s position that timely screening must be a health priority in Canada,” said Barry D. Stein president of the CCAC. To bolster their message that colon cancer is Preventable, Treatable and Beatable, the CCAC is launching a multimedia program asking the public more than ever to help support the CCAC in every way possible by spreading the message that timely screening can save lives.

CCAC's own Frank Pitman and Michelle Sylvestre sport blue on National Dress in Blue Day

The CCAC is also launching its first annual National Dress in Blue Day to bring nationwide attention to colorectal cancer and to celebrate the courage of those touched by this disease. The CCAC is asking the public to participate by wearing blue and donating to the CCAC on March 2nd, 2012 to help promote colorectal cancer awareness.

“This year in Canada, over 22,200 thousand men and women will be diagnosed with the disease and about 8,900 will die from it”, says Stein. “So there is no time like the present to start doing what you can to prevent the disease”. With that in mind here are 10 things you can do to help prevent it:

1. Go to a doctor if you have any colon cancer symptoms.
Usually, colon cancer doesn’t have any symptoms. However, in the later stages, symptoms may include thin or bloody stools, cramping, and unexplained weight loss.

2. If you’re 50 or older, get screened.
More than 90 percent of people diagnosed with colon cancer are 50 or older and the average age of diagnosis is 64. Research indicates that by age 50, one in four people has polyps. The single best way to prevent colorectal cancer is to get screened for the disease and screened regularly.

3. Eat a balanced diet.
Studies have revealed that a diet high in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats has been linked to a decreased risk of colorectal cancer. Conversely, a diet high in red meat, refined foods, and unhealthy fats has been linked to an increased risk of the disease.

4. Maintain a healthy weight.
Excess body weight and obesity have been clearly linked to an increased risk of colorectal cancer, making it vital to maintain a healthy weight throughout life to help prevent the disease.

5. Maintain an active lifestyle.
Studies have shown that those who engage in regular, moderate exercise such as brisk walking, dancing, and skating are at a lower risk of developing colorectal cancer than those who are inactive. Exercising can reduce colon cancer risk by as much as 40 percent. Exercise also tends to reduce the incidence of other risk factors for colon cancer, like obesity and diabetes.

6. Consider genetic counselling.
People who carry genetic mutations linked to hereditary colon cancer are the most likely to develop the disease. If someone in your family has FAP or HNPCC consult your physician and ask about colorectal cancer screening.

7. Learn your family medical history.
Remember advise your physician about family members who have had polyps or colon cancer. It is also important to discuss it with your own family members as well so they are aware of the risk in the family and can be screened.

8. Talk to a doctor about your personal medical history.
As you may have guessed, discussing your own medical history is extremely important when it comes to colon cancer prevention. Don’t assume they know everything about you.

9. Don’t smoke.
Stop smoking. Smoking is significantly associated with colorectal cancer incidence. It increases your risk for two main reasons. First, inhaled or swallowed tobacco smoke transports carcinogens to the colon. Second, tobacco use appears to increase polyp size.

10. Reduce alcohol consumption.
Reduce your alcohol consumption. Regular consumption of alcohol in excess has been shown to increase the risk of developing colorectal cancer.