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 Patient Education

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Your Cancer Centre Team

Through your time at The Carlo Fidani Regional Cancer Centre, you will meet many different health care professionals who will be part of your health care team. Each person’s health care team will be different. Below is a list and description of many of the professionals that you may meet during your time here.

Oncologists are doctors who focus in treating people with cancer. Depending on your type of cancer and the treatment that you may need, you may meet a medical oncologist, radiation oncologist, surgical oncologist, or palliative care doctor. You and your oncologist will create a specific treatment plan and follow up care plan.

Oncology nurses are registered nurses who have skills and knowledge in caring for people with cancer. These nurses can support your physical, emotional and psychological needs. They also help you in managing your care during your time in the cancer centre and they are experts in giving chemotherapy.

Clinical trials nurses are registered nurses with a focus in oncology and research. Clinical trials nurses will help you manage your care if you consent to take part in a clinical trial.

Advanced practice nurses are registered nurses who provide in-depth physical, emotional and practical nursing care to patients and families affected by cancer.

Radiation therapists Healthcare professionals trained to plan and deliver radiation treatment. They are able to provide you with education and support during your treatment.

Medical physicists Professionals working closely with the radiation oncologists and radiation therapists in the planning and delivery of radiation therapy treatments. They monitor and maintain all radiation treatment machines and review all treatment plans before treatment begins.

Oncology Pharmacists work as part of your healthcare team to get your chemotherapy ready making sure your chemotherapy is safe and effective. They also give you information about your specific chemotherapy regimen, counseling about the side effects you may have along with strategies on how to best manage and/or prevent them. They will discuss with you if any of the other medications you take may affect how well your chemotherapy works. They can also give you information and guidance about natural health products.

Medication Access Specialist/Drug Navigator can help you understand how your medication coverage works and what options may be available to you during your cancer treatments.

Dietitians Healthcare professionals who assess your diet and nutritional needs and can offer you information on healthy eating during cancer treatment. They can help you manage treatment related side effects that may affect your ability to eat well and provide you with information on the use of natural health products and oral nutrition supplements.

Psychosocial Oncology Team is a group of health care professionals from Psychology and Social Work. They help patients cope with the many practical and emotional needs they may have during their cancer journey. Some of the problems that they can help with include distress, worry, trouble sleeping, low mood, financial concerns and contacting other resources in the community.

Clinical Clerical Assistants Individuals who schedule your appointments. You will see unit clerks before and after each of your appointments.

Hospital Chaplain and volunteer assistants can meet with you, your family, and your loved ones if you have any spiritual and emotional concerns. They can talk to you about the meaning of life, spirituality, grief issues, individual experiences and feelings.

Students/Residents Individuals in training for any of the professions above. You may meet them at any time during your treatments.

Newly Diagnosed

Breast Cancer

Hearing that you have cancer can be very hard. You may have many questions. If you have been newly diagnosed with breast cancer, and you want to learn more about breast cancer, click on the link below. The link will take you to a list of resources to help you find information about breast cancer.

pdf link Where to Start – Breast Cancer

Radiation Therapy and Brachytherapy



 

The Radiation Program at The Carlo Fidani Regional Cancer Centre has continually strived to be at the leading edge of cancer treatment. The inviting open concept treatment and waiting areas complement the state-of-the-art equipment that is used to deliver some of the most advanced treatment options available:

Image Guided Radiation Treatment (IGRT)
Volumetric Modulated Arc Treatment (VMAT)
Total Skin Electron Therapy (TSE)
Stereotactic Body Radiation Treatment (SBRT)
Prone Breast Treatment
Brachytherapy Treatment
Stereotactic Radiation Surgery (SRS)

Our team approach to treatment delivery is the philosophy of our program. By relying on the power of teamwork we have created efficiencies that help us maintain some of the best wait times in the province. The philosophy of teamwork is also essential to our innovations around quality of care as we continually seek to go beyond the traditional boundaries of health care.

Together with our patients, families, and loved ones we work together to create a plan that will meet their physical, emotional, informational, and supportive needs. We start first with the patient and their family, identifying a patient's needs, share a plan of care, and then invest in the results to enhance survivorship. By using this approach we can ensure that through trust and guidance a patient's radiation journey is a meaningful experience.


Radiation Therapy Orientation - PDF file »
Radiation Therapy Orientation - Text file »

Helpful Questions & Answers about Radiation Therapy

Q: Does radiation therapy hurt?
A: No, radiation is like getting an x-ray.

Q: What are the possible side effects of radiation therapy?
A: The side effects that you may experience will depend on the amount of radiation delivered and the area of your body being treated. Your health care team will talk to you about the side effects that you may experience before you start your radiation treatment and give you tips on how to manage them. Always let your health care team know about any side effects you experience, even if they seem minor.

Q: Will I be radioactive?
A: If you have external beam radiation treatment the answer is no, you will not be radioactive. You can still enjoy the same contact with family and friends without fear of exposing them to radiation.
For most types of Brachytherapy Treatment the answer is no, you will not be radioactive. Some Brachytherapy treatments use radioactive sources which are put into your body and are not taken out. Your health care team will tell you about if this is the type of treatment you will have.

Q: What is a tattoo?
A: A tattoo is a permanent freckle sized mark or dot that will always be on your skin. Tattoos are used by the radiation therapists to find the precise area of your body that will be treated every day.

Q: How long does it take?
A: The radiation machine is only turned on for a few minutes for each treatment. The radiation therapy appointments are about 15 minutes long. It takes this amount of time to make sure that you are in the same position for the treatment every day. However there are some procedures, like Brachytherapy, that may take longer than 15 minutes and you will be told about that before your appointment.

Q: Do I have to come every day for treatment?
A: The radiation oncologist will tell you how many treatments you will have. If you are to have many treatments you will likely come every day for treatments.

Q: Can I come at any time for my treatment?
A: You will be given specific appointments, and you will be notified ahead of time if changes need to be made.

Brachytherapy Program

Brachytherapy is a type of radiation therapy treatment where a radioactive source is placed inside or next to the area where the cancer is. Brachytherapy may be used for cancers of the prostate, uterus, vagina, cervix, breast, skin, lung or esophagus.
Your radiation oncologist will talk to you about the available treatment options. You and your radiation oncologist will create a specific treatment plan. Brachytherapy may be used alone or together with other treatment types such as surgery, radiation therapy (also known as external beam radiation therapy) and chemotherapy.
There are many steps involved in Brachytherapy:

  • Education and information
  • Pre-treatment assessment & tests (such as blood tests or x-rays)
  • Treatment planning
  • Brachytherapy treatment
  • Follow-up

pdf linkBrachytherapy Patient Education - video transcript - PDF file »
Brachytherapy Patient Education - video transcript - Text file »

For more information about Brachytherapy at The Carlo Fidani Regional Cancer Centre:

pdf linkBackgrounder on Brachytherapy
pdf linkPress release on Brachytherapy

Chemotherapy

We give many different chemotherapy medications to treat a wide variety of cancers. Chemotherapy drugs are medications that destroy cancer cells. Chemotherapy may involve one drug, or a mixture of two or more drugs, depending on the type of cancer.

Chemotherapy can also damage good cells in the body. This is what can cause side effects, but management of these side effects has improved in recent years. Your health care team will tell you what side effects you may have and how to manage them.

We are here to work with you to make sure you have the best treatment experience.
Your health care team will talk to you about the treatment options available to you. You and your health care team will create a specific treatment plan which will include chemotherapy alone or together with other treatment types such as surgery and radiation therapy.

Throughout your treatments for chemotherapy, you will meet many health care team members, including nurses and pharmacists, who will give you support, talk to you about your treatments and how to manage your side effects. They will also answer any questions you have during your chemotherapy treatment.

Resources:

Managing Symptoms

Your healthcare team will tell you which symptoms (signs that you are not feeling well) you may have, and how to manage them.

Cancer Care Ontario has many booklets with information about managing symptoms. Click on one of the symptoms below to read the booklet for that symptom.

You can find more booklets about managing symptoms on the symptom management page of Ontario Health – Cancer Care Ontario’s website.

If you would like to learn more about how to manage certain symptoms or side effects of cancer treatment, look at the list below. Click on the name of the document that you would like to read.

pdf link Where to Start – Exercise & Exercise Services (PDF)

pdf link Where to Start – Fertility & Infertility (PDF)

pdf link Where to Start – Lymphedema (PDF)

Psychosocial Oncology and Supportive Care

The Psychosocial Oncology Team:

Please note all Queensway Health Centre Oncology services have temporarily moved to the Carlo Fidani Regional Cancer Centre at Credit Valley Hospital.

A cancer diagnosis can be difficult. It is normal to have many different emotions during this time. Examples of emotions that are common are: stress, anxiety, sadness, anger or a sense of a loss of control.

It is important to talk to someone that can help you understand your feelings and thoughts. The psychosocial team can give you and your family confidential counseling and support. Our services are free as well as private and confidential.
The psychosocial team is a team of social workers, a psychologist, and psychiatrists that can help you with:

  • trouble sleeping and panic
  • Stress management
  • Depression or depressed feelings
  • Worry
  • Sexual health
  • Loss and grief
  • Spiritual or religious concerns
  • Speaking to children or teens about your cancer
  • Help with navigating the healthcare system whether you are new to Canada or not
  • Finding information and community resources
  • Help with connecting with financial programs
  • We offer counseling to individuals, couples and families. During COVID-19, we are offering our services over the phone.

To contact a social worker, please use the phone number(s) in the section called “How can I contact my healthcare team?

The Supportive Care Team:

The Supportive Care Team:
The supportive care team is made up of dietitians and a medication access specialist. Our services are free.

Dietitians and Nutritional Support
Eating Healthy is very important during every stage of your cancer treatment and recovery. A healthy diet gives you energy, helps you feel better and recover faster from treatment side effects.  Cancer treatments can cause different side effects that make it difficult to meet your nutritional needs. Your dietitian can give you information on healthy eating and offer diet strategies to manage the following side effects:

  • Poor appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Changes in your sense of taste
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing
  • Heartburn and reflux
  • Gas or bloating

Dietitians offer individual counseling.
To contact a dietitian, please use the phone number(s) in the section calledHow can I contact my healthcare team?

Medication Access Specialist/Drug Navigator
The medication access can help you understand how your medication coverage works and what options may be available to you during your cancer treatments. The medication access specialist can help you if:

  • you do not have a drug plan
  • your drug plan does not cover the costs of certain cancer treatment drugs
  • you would like information about programs that can help with the cost

To contact a medication access specialist, please use the phone number(s) in the section called How can I contact my healthcare team?



Cancer is a little bit like the pebble that hits the water; it spreads out and affects all areas of our lives. Cancer can affect many of the areas of your life listed below. Look at each of the life areas below to see resources that may help you.

Spiritual

Spiritual Health at BC Cancer

If you have spiritual questions or concerns, watch this video to learn how spiritual care may help you.

 

 

Practical

Advance Care Planning

Speak UP Video by Advance Care Planning Canada

To learn what Advance Care Planning is, and why it might be important to you, watch this video.

 

Wigs and Head Coverings

To learn where you can buy wigs in the community, click on the document below.
pdf link Where to Start – Wigs

Transportation Services to get to your Medical Appointments

If you need a ride to get to your medical appointments, click on document below.
pdf link Where to Start – Transportation

 

Social

Talking to Your Children

Telling your children you have cancer by Fruit Fly Collective

Talking to children about cancer can be hard. This video may help you if you want to:

  • know why it is important to tell children about your (or your loved one’s) cancer
  • understand how to talk about cancer with children at different ages

 

For more information about how to talk to children or teens about cancer, click on the document below.
pdf link Where to Start – Talking to Children and Teens

 

Emotional & Psychological

General Counselling Services in the Community

If you need professional help dealing with your thoughts and feelings, you can get counselling in the community. For a list of general counselling services in the community, click on the document below.
pdf link Where to Start – General Counselling Services

Body Image & Cancer

Body Image and Cancer by MacMillan Cancer Support

To learn how cancer can affect the way you feel about your body, and to learn from the experience of other people with cancer, watch this video.

 


If you had a mastectomy (surgery to remove part or all of your breast), you may be interested in the information below. If you want information about mastectomy wear, breast prostheses (artificial breast forms), or breast reconstruction, click on the documents below.

pdf link Where to Start - Mastectomy Wear and Breast Prosthetics

pdf link Where to Start – Breast Reconstruction

 

Palliative Care

The focus of palliative care is on controlling pain and other symptoms, and emotional and psychological support. Instead of stopping the spread of the illness, the goal of palliative care is to make sure you or your loved one is comfortable. Your Oncologist (cancer doctor) or family doctor may connect you with the palliative care team if it is right for you. An experienced team cares for patients who are getting palliative care. This team includes:

  • doctors,
  • nurses,
  • social workers,
  • spiritual care providers,
  • dietitian,
  • speech and language pathologists (help with speech or communication problems)
  • physiotherapist,
  • occupational therapist (help patients re-train or keep their ability to do daily activities)
  • music therapy

We have beds for patients who are getting palliative care on our Inpatient Oncology unit.