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We were so pleased to see one of our new Peer Support Volunteers, Gervais Fournier, featured in this New Normal, Same Cancer news story, seen last month in the Le Journal de Montréal. The translated article is below:
The year 2020 took everyone by surprise. We stayed home, wore masks and replaced face-to-face visits with meetings on Zoom. Unfortunately, new data shows that because of the pandemic, patients with cancer symptoms are reluctant to see a doctor for fear of exposure to VIDOC-19.
Globally, cancer diagnoses have dropped by approximately 40%. In Canada, a survey found that 80 per cent of oncologists believe that delays caused by VIDOC-19 have had a moderate to severe impact on the diagnosis and evaluation of potential cancer cases, as well as on patient care. Oncologists also estimate that diagnoses of some cancers have dropped by 25%, including ovarian and bladder cancer.
But cancer does not go away. Medical experts are concerned that delays in cancer treatment could have a significant long-term impact on patients’ ability to fight the disease.
“Some patients are understandably afraid to go to health care facilities,” said Dr. Shannon Salvador, gynecologic oncologist and Director of Communities of Practice, Society of Gynecologic Oncology of Canada. “However, health care professionals have learned from the first wave of the pandemic and know what to do to minimize the risk of VIDOC-19. Cancer patients should be confident that the necessary protocols are in place to ensure the safety of all.
Gervais Fournier, 73, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Coalition Priorité Cancer au Québec, has been diagnosed with Stage I bladder cancer since 2018. Fortunately, his cancer was detected early and treated without delay. Mr. Fournier continues to receive preventive care, in person, at his regional cancer center.
“The risk of recurrence of my cancer is high, so I need to take care of myself,” he said. “At first I was afraid to go to the center for treatment, but everything is fine. The health workers are doing a great job and I feel safe.
Thanks to the hard work of healthcare professionals, oncology services remain functional in Quebec and across the country. Many patients like Mr. Fournier have had access to life-saving screening tests, examinations, surgeries and treatments during the pandemic.
“People are postponing oncology treatments until things get back to normal. But we must realize that this is a new normal and that cancer does not wait,” said Eva Villalba, Executive Director, Coalition Priorité Cancer au Québec. “It’s important that they take care of their health and get evaluated.
The Coalition Priorité Cancer au Québec is one of some 25 Canadian health organizations that have joined AstraZeneca Canada’s initiative to lead the awareness campaign Nouvelle Normalité, même cancer.
“Contact your health care team if you have health concerns, need to be screened or need care,” urged Dr. Salvador. “Don’t hesitate to consult us. We’re here for you.”
If you are in need of support during your bladder cancer journey, please visit our online forum here.
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Disclaimer: The Bladder Cancer Canada blog is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment. The content on this blog shares the personal views of the writer and is for information only. Always consult your physician and do not rely on the information on this page when making decisions about your health.