Donors make local research a reality

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Donors make local research a reality

A global pandemic means almost everything changes, including how cancer care is delivered to Manitobans throughout our province. And with that change comes an opportunity to investigate improvements through scientific research. Thanks to the incredible support of donors, this research is underway.

Dr Kathleen Decker is currently leading a study exploring the impact of the global pandemic on cancer care in Manitoba.

Thanks to the generosity of the almost 400 donors who responded to the Foundation’s 2020 spring appeal, Dr Decker was able to launch research to evaluate the impact of COVID-19 related changes on cancer incidence, patterns of cancer care, time to first treatment, stage at diagnosis, and survival. In conjunction, Dr Maclean Thiessen is examining the experience of individuals receiving treatment and determining what is helpful and unhelpful as it relates to virtual cancer care.

“So far, the data analysis related to the patient experience suggests some changes related to the pandemic have improved the cancer experience for many patients,” Dr Thiessen said. “For instance, we are discovering situations where telephone visits are preferred by those receiving care as well as instances when they are not acceptable, both from a patient preference and a medical safety perspective. This knowledge can be used to intelligently structure cancer care to incorporate telephone visits even after social distancing measures are reduced.”

Dr Decker believes the results so far are extremely encouraging.

“We found oncology care in Manitoba rapidly adapted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic with an emphasis on maintaining high standards of care and accessibility, while implementing procedures to protect patients and staff.”

It is through the generosity of donors that patients at CancerCare Manitoba can feel confident the highest standard of care will be offered to them through the most uncertain times. Patients like Garry Stewart, who has been undergoing treatment for lymphoma since 2018.

The high level of care he’s always received has remained consistent.

“Treatments, consults and testing – nothing actually changed as a result of COVID,” said the 68-year-old. “I believe I received excellent care throughout my CancerCare journey.”

He suggested the biggest change was having to do everything alone because of COVID protocols.

“Nothing replaces a real person being with you in difficult times. CancerCare Manitoba was very good at all times. Perhaps even better because the staff knew how cut off you were from your traditional supports,” he explained. The ongoing study is providing a wealth of unexpected knowledge. Thanks to the investment of Manitobans like you, results will be shared with health-care providers, patients and decision-makers over the next year to ensure Manitobans with cancer continue to receive the highest standard of care during and after the pandemic.

Thanks to donor support, Drs Decker and Thiessen were able to rapidly develop a research program to evaluate and learn from the changes to cancer care resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic in Manitoba. Important scientific contributions from this work will be built on in the future by scientists and clinicians both locally and globally.

The funding received from local donors was instrumental in helping our team transform the devastating event that has been the COVID-19 pandemic into an opportunity to learn how to better serve Manitobans living with cancer both now and into the future.” – Dr Maclean Thiessen

During the time of this interview Garry heard the longawaited words, “You are in remission.” After what felt like a lifetime, Garry is celebrating the news with his high school sweetheart and wife, Shirley, sharing special moments with the ones they love at their family cottage.

For Manitobans like Garry who have been in care during the pandemic, he is glad to know donors have made such important research possible.

“Both Shirley and I are very grateful to all the donors whose funding makes possible new research into delivering improved cancer treatments and care.”