Nunavut's first cancer treatment follow-up clinic

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First cancer treatment follow-up clinic in Nunavut

Eliyah King and his wife, Ellen, on a return flight from Ottawa to Iqaluit. The couple spent months in Ottawa for Eliyah's cancer treatment.

A group of oncologists are offering follow-up care for some cancer patients for the first time in Nunavut. #x27;a cancer at the Qikiqtani General Hospital in Iqaluit.

This novelty allows these patients to avoid having to travel thousands of kilometers to the south of the country to obtain a follow-up.

This is the case of Eliyah King, who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2020. For the past two years, he has been traveling for many months to Ottawa with his wife, because there are few oncologists, cancer specialists, in the North .

The first time the couple had to travel for treatment, they left Nunavut in December and did not return until May.

That's horrible, because we have to leave our families, our families […] our fur baby. And this dog is the shadow of Eliyah, they do everything together, explains Ellen King.

Eliyah King and the one he calls his furry baby, Krug.

This week, however, the stress of cancer treatments begins to ease somewhat, as the first clinic begins to see patients in Iqaluit.

It's like having an in-person patient support line at the hospital, says Ellen King.

Marc Gaudet, the head of the radiation oncology unit at the Ottawa Hospital and the University of Ottawa has been working for a few months with Dr. Gad Perry, another oncologist, to ensure a physical presence on the ground for cancer patients in Nunavut.

In Iqaluit, since Monday, cancer patients have been receiving people who have received a new diagnosed with cancer or who are followed after their cancer treatments. They do not, however, offer chemotherapy, which always requires a trip south.

The team includes staff from the Indigenous Peoples Cancer Program at The Ottawa Hospital, including its Clinical Director and the Indigenous Nurse Navigator.

The Ottawa Hospital team in charge of the cancer care follow-up clinic at Qikiqtani General Hospital in Iqaluit. Left to right: Gwen Barton, Dr. Tim Asmis, Julie Renaud, Dr. Gad Perry and Dr. Marc Gaudet.

Dr. Gaudet claims to have experience in many x27;other outreach clinics outside of Ottawa, notably in northern Quebec.

The advantage of being on the ground [in Nunavut] , is that we know who to contact in Ottawa if there are very specific things to settle.

According to Dr. Gaudet, the clinic is part of a relationship that has been building for many years and which he describes as a stepping stone to accessing more care in the North. .

He says that during the pandemic, several patients were able to receive some form of cancer treatment at home in Nunavut. He hopes the clinic will continue on this path and praises his team's good relationship with Qikiqtani Hospital.

It's a long process of getting all these protocols in place and training everyone in the right way so that it's as safe to do this in the North as it is to do it in Ottawa, says Dr. Gaudet. The fact that we travel up north regularly will help us build those relationships and ensure that we can provide training when we are there.

He also hopes that a local clinic can improve the diagnosis of Nunavummiut with cancer.

Eliyah King and his oncologist, Dr. Rachel Goodwin. The photo was taken on June 27 when Dr. Goodwin allowed Liyah King to return to Nunavut from Ottawa.

One of the difficulties he has observed in the North with diagnosing cancers is that patients come to doctors at a more advanced stage of the disease, in part because of problems with cancer. access to health care services.

And, of course, there is the stress of having to travel south for treatment.

Eliyah King is relieved about this even though he greatly appreciates his oncologist in Ottawa, as his wife explains.

The fact that he is at home, that he can sleep whenever he wants and that I can cook him whatever he wants. […] He can also go on land.

It's just better to be at home.

< em>With information from Cindy Alorut

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