From May 19th to 21st, the Toronto Mariott Eaton Centre Hotel was flooded with men and women from all over Canada. Many of them survivors, they made the trek in order to spend the packed three-day session learning as much as they could about colorectal cancer and how to administer effective psychosocial support as a member of the CCCAC Cancer Coach Program.

One of the first tasks was to introduce all of the Coaches-in-training. No two cancer cases are alike, and nor were any two Cancer Coaches’ experiences with the disease. While some had lost loved ones, other were survivors themselves, and others still were waiting to reach NED status.  The evening ended with Dr. Linda Edgar’s seminar on identifying distressed patients and learning several powerful coping mechanisms.

The training session resumed bright and early on Thursday, with an in-depth anatomy lesson and a review of the pathologies of the colon. This lesson would come in handy later in the day, when the Coaches-in-training attended informative seminars by several key experts in cancer care- Dr. Pierre Major, Medical Oncologist, Dr. Calvin Law, Surgical Oncologist, and Dr. John Kachura, Interventional Radiologist. We covered everything from advancements in colorectal cancer-treating drugs to the basic concept of surgical removal of liver metastases to treatments such as Microspheres and Portal Vein Embolizations.

After a colon-healthy lunch, the group was treated to a panel discussion regarding local initiatives and was inspired by several ideas for reaching out to their communities. Topics presented included the successes of a small but dedicated group demanding better colorectal cancer care in Kingston, methods for community outreach in rural areas, the very succesful C.R.A.N. support group model, and the programs and services offered by cancer support organizations like Willows and Wellspring. The evening was topped off by an inspiring presentation by Dick Feldon, a certified Chi Walking instructor. What an enjoyable, easy-to-learn form of potentially life-prolonging exercise!

The training session continued on Friday with a short presentation on complementary therapies- that is, the various things one can do or take in order to ease the discomfort of treatment or improve quality of life. Did you know that yoga, massage, meditation and reiki therapy can all improve a patient’s quality of life? Of course, the CCAC’s Cancer Coaches will always urge you to discuss any new treatment or exercise with your physician. (Click here to learn more about these therapies.)

No training conference would be complete without a presentation on the year’s clinical research, administered by the CCAC’s Educational/Clinical Specialist. The Coaches received information on the latest developments in colorectal cancer research, in the areas of drugs therapies, surgical procedures, interventional radiology, screening, psychosocial support, nutrition and healthy lifestyles.

By the time the training session wrapped up, our Cancer Coaches were handling mock inquiries with confidence and care. When you contact a Cancer Coach, you are offered an understanding ear and an ally as you navigate the healthcare system.

After the cut, get to know the faces of the CCAC’s Cancer Coach Program- and don’t be afraid to get in touch with one by calling 1-877-50-COLON.