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Cancer Care Ontario Blog

Human Touch Awards celebrate excellence in cancer care

Sep 11, 2018

CCO Blog Team

Passionate. Committed. Patient-focused.

These are just a few of the words that have been used to describe this year’s Human Touch Award recipients in the cancer care system.

Each year, these awards recognize the essential role played by healthcare professionals and volunteers. And as with previous years, the 2018 recipients embody what it means to go the extra mile in providing exceptional care.

(Top photo, from left: Steven Golick, Dr. Ravi Ananth, Dr. Caroline Hamm, Dr. Angel Arnaout, Shaniza Sakoor)

Giving back with positive spirit

Shaniza Sakoor volunteers her time to Humber River Hospital with one goal in mind – to improve the patient experience.

Since receiving a breast cancer diagnosis in November 2016, Shaniza has turned her cancer journey into a source of positive experiences and learnings that she openly shares with her peers. Even during her own appointments, she often makes time to help other patients navigate the clinic’s processes.

In an interview after receiving her volunteer Human Touch Award, Shaniza said she has always been met with remarkable positivity and energy from healthcare professionals at the hospital.

"You can do nothing but reciprocate," she said. "So if you're thinking about volunteering, try it. I can tell you, it will enrich and uplift your life."

Dr. Caroline Hamm received a Human Touch Award this year in the staff category. As Medical Director of the Windsor Cancer Research Group, Dr. Hamm works tirelessly to advance the field of oncology.

It has been noted that Dr. Hamm is always willing to help a colleague or patient – no matter what she’s doing. If you ask for help, she will stop what she’s doing to help you. If you ask again, she will do the same.

"We know we're all just one step away from that CAT scan that gives us the bad news," she said in explaining why the human touch is so important to her clinical approach. "So I guess I treat people how I would want to be treated."

'I wanted to give back'

Steven Golick is another individual who continues to make a positive impact on the lives of patients.

A Human Touch Award recipient in this year’s volunteer category, Steven has proven to be an incredible force when committed to a goal. This has been evident in his work to help transform the approach to the patient experience at the Sunnybrook Odette Cancer Centre.

Steven has a rare form of cancer called chordoma, and his personal experience with the cancer system has provided him with insights into the challenges that cancer patients face, as well as possible solutions to improve care.

As Co-Chair of the Centre’s Patient and Family Advisor Council, Steven has been a catalyst for integrating the patient voice into the delivery of care.

"After having amazing care from the top professionals in the country, who are compassionate and eager and willing to go the extra yard, I figured I wanted to give back to the medical profession," he said of his volunteer work after receiving his award.

"I enjoy doing it. It's fun. And the more you give, the more time you spend, the more energy you put into it - the better you feel."

Helping bring change for patients

Dr. Ravi Ananth is known for his tireless work to ensure patients have the most positive outcomes.

Dr. Ananth, the lead brachytherapy physicist and operations lead for brachytherapy at the Odette Cancer Centre, is dedicated to improving care in the cancer program through an innovative and person-centred approach. For example, he has made a significant impact with the introduction of a revised gynecological procedure that reduced the length of the procedure from 6 hours to 2.5 hours.

After receiving his award, Dr. Ananth said he's fortunate that his work can bring immediate results for patients. "The feeling of working on something that's important and can effect change – for one person, if not many - is really special and something that you never want to lose," he said.

Also honoured this year was Dr. Angel Arnaout, who brings a great deal of dedication, compassion, leadership and influence to her work as a surgical oncologist at The Ottawa Hospital.

She approaches her work with the intention of making a significant and meaningful impact in her patients’ lives, the cancer system and the community.

"Practising in the healthcare system with cancer patients every day gives me the opportunity to be grateful," she explained after receiving her Human Touch Award. "It gives me perspective on life."

Hear more from this year's Human Touch Awards winners in the cancer and kidney care systems:

Read more about this year’s Human Touch Awards recipients in the kidney care system

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