Mississauga Healthy Living Expo Inbox

The Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada (CCAC) was honoured to be among the 30 exhibitors at the Mississauga Healthy Living Expo held on June 8th, 2013. The event was organized by the Mississauga Board of Chinese Professionals so the population could visit with exhibitors for up-to-date health care information and attend free seminars. The seminars, held in Chinese and English, featured prominent speakers on topics related to improving your health and well being.

Special thanks to Amgen for providing our booth space and to the great volunteers Sherron Chiu, Belinda Tham, Anna Marie Laidlaw and Becky Lee for representing the CCAC with such distinction.

The Giant Colon at “Gutsy Walk”

The Giant Colon Tour visited the beautiful University of British Columbia’s campus for the second time this year. The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of Canada’s (CCFC) Vancouver Chapter held their annual “Gutsy Walk” June 9th, 2013 at Thunderbird Park and the Giant Colon was the main attraction for their health conscious supporters. Located at the “Start/Finish” line, over 350 participants walked through our large pink colon during the event.


So many good people showed up at the STRIKE OUT COLON CANCER softball game/family day event in Pierrefonds on June 1st in honor of Stephen Lisiak. Over $5000 was raised for the Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada through online donations, participation fees, raffles, silent auction, bracelet sales and food sales. Big thanks to Lisa Lisiak, Steve Legg, the fabulous AJ and all the friends and family who were there to pay tribute to a truly great person. Online donations can still be made for the event at the following website:

Survivor Series: Some Stage 4 CRC patients’ observations after 7 years!

Some Stage 4 CRC patients’ observations after 7 years!

1: Life is the journey, cancer is but a series of speed bumps and detours.
2: Cancer is a team sport! With all the different doctors and medical professionals
involved, it’s easy to lose control. As the patient, be the team coach! No the puck!
3: Pay no attention to life expectancy statistics. They are all out of date and your
objective is to prove them wrong anyway!
4: Ask the doctors lots of questions. If you don’t understand the answers ask them to
explain. If they don’t, get another doctor! If you’re unsure, get a second opinion!
Remember you’re the coach in the most important game, your life!
5: Join a support group. Share your experiences and learn from others. You are not
alone. Fear of the unknown can be paralyzing.

Anonymous CCAC Patient, April 17, 2013
20 months life expectancy November 2006

Survivor Series – Margaret Podgorski

My name is Margaret Podgorski.

I was diagnosed with stage IV colorectal cancer in January of 2009. Since then I have been thinking of myself as Stage Four Colorectal Cancer. This may still change, but I understand better every day, that it most likely will not and hopefully would last a long time. In other words, I am learning to live with my cancer. I respect it. It is mine and I intend to heal it.
Like so many cancer patients I decided, that this is an opportunity to make all the positive changes in my life, changes I was planning to make for so long. And I did, almost overnight, and it worked. It did not take long before I started feeling better than ever. I changed my diet, started taking all sorts of supplements, started to exercise more and tried every complementary treatment that managed to convince me of its merits. And I still do, and I still feel great.

A month after the diagnosis I had my primary tumour removed. Pathology report confirmed initial diagnosis and a couple of weeks later doctors started planning my future treatment. I remember the feeling of helplessness, the need to know and understand what is being done to me. Asking relevant questions requires knowledge. I had to learn as much as possible. From day one I wanted to know everything about MY cancer. I wanted to understand it. I had to in order to fight it. I turned to internet. The amount of information overwhelmed me. The dread of chemo was approaching and I was working so hard to get rid of my cancer before it started, before it would have a chance to poison my newly cleansed body… fat chance. The CT scan prior to my first chemo showed significant progression in both my lungs and my liver. The oncologist was talking about palliative treatment and I was feeling healthier than I have ever felt before… Dying…? When…? 6 months… Who knows…? Confusion. This was my lowest point. It lasted just a moment but I know it had the potential of breaking me. Fortunately I quickly remembered that I was feeling great and I could take the chemo no problem. Bring it on… I started in April of 2009 and I tolerated it quite well.

At the same time I was exploring the world of support groups. Every one of them had so much to offer, yet I kept on looking for a group focused on understanding MY disease and treatments. My husband stumbled upon Barry Stein’s story and found out about the Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada Cancer Coach Conference that was taking place in Toronto in May of 2009. We met this group of wonderful people, all touched by MY cancer and all bend on educating colorectal cancer patients about the disease and treatment options.
My wish has been granted?

This experience and continuous CCAC group support gave me new confidence. I realized, I would never know all about my cancer but there will always be something new to learn. Now I have back-up, advice, people who know and who can help. It helped me relax. It helped me accept the treatments.

In February of 2010 I had liver resection followed by more chemo and in early 2011 I had my left and then my right lung resected. More chemo followed and in January 2012 my second liver resection was done. Another set of lung resections was scheduled in 2012 but it fell through because of recurrence in my liver. In July 2012 I started chemo yet again. I was told that surgery is not an option for my liver or my lungs anymore, so with the CCAC’s help we looked for other options. She found one and I started radiation treatment for my lungs in January 2013. This took 2 months and on April 15/13 I had full body PET/CT done at the clinic where I received radiation treatment. Suddenly the focus changed. The scan revealed several tumors in my brain. Fortunately they were discovered early. I completed full brain radiation and now at the end of May 2013 I am back on chemo – my favourite FOLFIRI & AVASTIN. Awaiting good news

I am here. I feel great. Yes, I know, I most likely will die of MY cancer.

When? Who knows….?

Margaret Podgorski

Survivor Series – Christine Harrison

My colon cancer was diagnosed in April 2009; I had no family history or symptoms and had waited eighteen months for my routine colonoscopy (I was 55 years old). I had microsurgery, and began chemotherapy in July. The day the bottle providing the 3-day infusion of 5-FU and Oxaliplatin was removed I had the first of several heart spasms that I experienced throughout the summer, including a minor heart attack. This was an unusual but not unique reaction to 5-FU, and we decided to try again, but with a one-time IV application rather than a slow infusion. I received this in hospital so I could be observed. (Fortunately I was observed by my husband Ron, because the pump was incorrectly programmed.) I was OK for a few weeks, and then became very ill, again with a severe reaction to the 5-FU. I was in hospital for 3 weeks, including almost a week in the ICU.

As I was not able to tolerate the 5-FU it was not much of a surprise when my cancer recurred. More surgery. This time the chemotherapy we used was the drug raltitrexed, with oxaliplatin. Around this time we began attending meetings of the Colorectal Cancer Resource & Action Network (CCRAN), run by the Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada (CCAC). Raltitrexed is not funded for colon cancer, but thanks to the information, advice, and encouragement of CCRAN and the CCAC we were able to obtain some funding from the company that makes the drug, plus some from our insurers.

Over the next 2 years I was on medical leave from my position as Director of Bioethics at the Hospital for Sick Children, and spend most of that time receiving chemotherapy. Throughout this time we were assisted in our decision making by information we received from summaries of current research compiled by CCAC’s Director of Education and Clinical Information. It was also helpful to hear the stories of others who attend the CCRAN meetings.

In the fall of 2012 I learned that Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto was offering surgery combined with heated intra-peritoneal chemotherapy (H.I.P.E.C.) to patients who fit the appropriate criteria. Dr. Andrea McCart and her team performed my 11-hour surgery in February 2013. As of May 2013 I am recovering well, thanks to the excellent care I received from my great oncological team at the Juravinski Cancer Centre and the surgical group at Mt. Sinai Hospital, and the support of members of the CCRAN and CCAC, and my friends and family.

By Christine Harrison

First Annual “Get Out There and Move” Event A Success Despite the Rain!

Despite scattered clouds and drizzling rain, 100 participants braved the weather to “Get Out There and Move” last Saturday in support of the Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada’s (CCAC) activity filled day long event promoting healthy lifestyles and cancer prevention.

The event took place at the Beaver Lake Pavillon in Mont-Royal Park, Montreal and raised $8,203 for the association.

For a minimum donation of $25 participants had a wide range of activities and fitness classes to choose from that were guaranteed to get their butts moving in one way or another.

Whether it was Yoga, Pilates, Biking, Hiking, Kickboxing, Zumba, Bootcamp, Essentrics, or taking a group walk with your dog – there was something for everyone! And at the end of it all, a delicious and healthy lunch was given to each participant.

Special guest Janna Boloten, Nutritionist was also on site to provide valuable insight on healthy eating habits and cancer preventing foods.

With the right combination of diet and regular exercise everyone can lower their risk of developing colorectal cancer or other diseases. Whether or not you were able to join us last week, we encourage you to find any outdoor activity that you love and make it part of your weekly routine this summer.

Special thanks to all our sponsors including Broccolini, Dorchester Investment Management, Pembroke, Canderel, Richter and the I-store, out outstanding trainers and group leaders, and our dedicated participants, some even all the way from Ottawa, that put their blood sweat and tears into making the event both fun and educational.

To view the entire event photo album please visit our facebook page.


On May 15, 2013 The Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada participated in the symposium titled “CANCER AND CULTURE: A DIFFERENT APPROACH” sponsored by la Coalition Priorité Cancer au Québec and l’Alliance des communautés culturelles pour l’égalité dans la santé et les services sociaux (ACCÉSSS). The symposium discussed the various differences of ethnocultural clients, patient-caregiver relationships in the intercultural context, focusing in particular on ways to improve the understanding and participation of patients and their families in public health programs for prevention and screening, and cancer treatment.

For more photos, please visit our Facebook page.

Cancer, Fertility and Motherhood Survey

Every year, approximately 85,000 Canadian women are diagnosed with cancer; of these, over 4,000 women are between the reproductive age range of 20 and 39. Fertility and motherhood are important quality of life issues for young women with a history of cancer. However, very limited data are available to document how fertility matters are addressed when they receive cancer care in Canada.

The CCAC is proud to support a doctoral research study entitled, “Cancer, fertility and motherhood: Addressing the fertility needs of young women with cancer in times of stress, uncertainty, and time pressure”. The study aims to explore the retrospective views of female cancer survivors on fertility matters related to cancer care, and their perspectives on preserving fertility through assisted reproductive technologies.

Eligibility criteria

1.Female cancer survivor
2.received a cancer diagnosis after year 2000
3.between the age of 18 and 39 when diagnosed with cancer
4.received cancer treatment in Canada
5.have completed cancer treatment.

Should you meet the above criteria, please support this research by participating in this quick survey which takes approximately 30 to 45 minutes to complete. Survey respondents can participate in a draw to win a $50 Amazon gift certificate.

How to begin the web-based survey:
Visit the project website www.cancerandfertility.com for more information or access the e- survey directly at http://fluidsurveys.com/s/fertility.

The Giant Colon makes a stop in Quebec City

The Giant Colon Tour stopped in Quebec City for three days from May 9 -11 as part of the Salon Vancances Évasion in Les Galeries de la Capitale. Over 6,500 people passed through our fabulous interactive 40 ft. long colon.

Many thanks to our great volunteers Jeannette Pane and Jacynthe Boudreault who joined staffers Dave Black and Frank Pitman to help spread colorectal cancer awareness.