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CCO Blog (Admin View)

Camille G.: Using her cancer experience to help others

Camille G.
Insights & Perspectives 5 minute read

In 2012, I was diagnosed with cancer. I was 19 years old at the time, just days into my second year of university.

Camille G.
Camille G. 
Patient & Family Advisor
Cancer Care Ontario

In the beginning, no one explicitly told me, “You have cancer.” The doctor said, “We found a tumour” and “You have Hodgkin’s lymphoma.” I was in shock and confused, but I had little time to process what any of it meant. The same day I was diagnosed, I was sent to a hospital six hours from home for further assessment and treatment.

Over the course of the next six months, I underwent 12 rounds of chemotherapy and 30 radiation treatments.

Cancer took a massive toll on my mental health and wellbeing. As my appearance changed and I faced the reality of my situation, I started to grieve the life I once knew and no longer had. While my friends were pursuing their education, meeting new people and going on adventures, all I had to look forward to was my next chemo treatment.

When I finally finished treatment the following spring, I assumed I could resume the life I had put on hold. I quickly found out that my journey with cancer did not end with remission. Healing, both physically and mentally, took a very long time.

While I will never “get over” my cancer experience, I have learned to expand my life around it. I wanted to use my experience help others, so I switched academic direction to pursue a career in oncology social work. I am now a graduate student on placement with a busy intensive care unit within a major general hospital that includes large cancer services. 

I also became a volunteer patient advisor with Ontario Health (Cancer Care Ontario). I am currently working on a joint initiative with the Pediatric Oncology Group of Ontario to improve transitions through the cancer system for adolescents and young adults.

One issue I am passionate about is the need to recognize the importance and impact of clinician wellbeing on patient care. As a patient, I always evaluated the quality of my care based on the interactions and relationships I had with medical professionals. If we want to provide the best possible person-centred care for patients, we need to support the people providing that care. I am encouraged to see concern for safety and wellbeing in the work place and especially care for caregivers and healthcare professionals reflected in the Ontario Cancer Plan.

I am thankful to say that I have been in remission since 2013. I am living a very rewarding life, one that has been shaped by my experience with cancer and my relationships with the healthcare world. I am enthusiastic about the progress we continue to make towards enhancing the cancer system and the experiences of everyone involved with it.

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