EACH ONE, TEACH ONE DR.

SCOTT NORTH’S CANCER SCHOOL

POP A WHEELIE BIKE COMMUTING + 5 GREAT REC TRAILS

t er-free movemen into Alberta’s canc

SUMMER 2011

Cancer patients take a leap with Mike Lang

When family plans and treatment plans collide

FERTILE GROUND

SALARY INTERRUPTED

Loans, mortgages and the cost of cancer
CANADIAN PUBLICATIONS MAIL PRODUCT AGREEMENT #40020055 Non-deliverable mail should be directed to: 10259 105 Street, Edmonton, AB T5J 1E3

“For those facing cancer today,
in honour of those lost to cancer, and for generations to come, we promise progress.“

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Ride orcycle Mot for Dad

CONTENTS
ON THE COVER: Mike Lang, PHOTO: Brittany Merrifield

SUMMER 2011 • VOL 2 • No. 1

SUMMER SPOTLIGHT
CANCER: Young Adults Overcome

22 26

DEPARTMENTS 4 OUR LEAP 6
36
FOREFRONT

16 19

PLANNING FAMILY
There are options for young families facing infertility after cancer

A message from the Alberta Cancer Foundation

ALL BY MYSELF
A cancer diagnosis can isolate young adults, dramatically changing their relationships

Davis Weisner’s gift; Fly fishing getaway; Melanoma warning; Top 10 list; Into the pink; Concerts for a cure; Pigeon Lake ride; Miles for myeloma, Summer recipe

22 SALARY INTERRUPTED 24 NO PITY PARTY

Cancer doesn’t care if you have bills to pay

12 13 14
32

BODYMIND
When sadness is more than just the blues

SMART EATS
Power up with local summer produce

A life-altering diagnosis gave Alyson Woloshyn’s life a new focus

26 MIKE LANG’S EXCELLENT
ADVENTURE
Some people aim to get through cancer and back to their lives. For others, life charts a new course

ASK THE EXPERTS
Do I need to take a Vitamin D supplement in the summer? PLUS: A question about Tamoxifen and heart disease

31

CORPORATE GIVING
Why Enbridge gives and rides to conquer cancer

FEATURES 32 SUMMER SIZZLERS 36 39

50 MY LEAP

Tips for family fun activities around Alberta

Dyllan Duperron runs and runs to raise funds

RESEARCH ROCKSTAR
Scott North’s empathetic and innovative teaching style inspires medical students

TREAT THE WHOLE PATIENT
A better outlook for cancer patients with clinical depression

50

16

42 TOP JOB

Hit the gym with trainer and researcher Lisa Belanger

45 WHEEL LIFE

On your bike! Practical advice for two-wheeled commuters

48 WHY I DONATE
42
Alber ta’s cancer-free movement

ION Print Solutions sets up a research fund that matches donations up to $50K

summer 2011

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ALBERTA CANCER FOUNDATION

From Stories Comes Wisdom
TRUSTEES Leslie Beard, Edmonton Angela Boehm, Calgary Greg Cameron, Edmonton Heather Culbert, Calgary Steven Dyck, Lethbridge Tony Fields, Edmonton Dianne Kipnes, Edmonton John J. McDonald, Edmonton Brent Saik, Sherwood Park Prem Singhmar, Sherwood Park Heather Watt, Edmonton Vern Yu, Calgary “Facts bring us to knowledge, but stories lead us to wisdom.” Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen, an American specialist in the mind/body health field inspired Mike Lang with these words. And as you can see by Mike’s story (page 26), once inspired, no challenge is too much for him. While Mike introduced us to these words, they might just have easily inspired Leap magazine. Leap is designed to take you past the numbers to the lives behind the cancer statistics. This issue focuses on the lives of young adults, like Mike, who unexpectedly face cancer. Cancer occurs less often in young adults, but because they’re not expected to have cancer, a diagnosis is often missed at the early stages. Once they are diagnosed, young adults may be balancing cancer treatment at the same time they are launching careers and marriages and struggling Every story of facing cancer with student loans and new mortgages. gets to the heart of what it is Their responses to these challenges are inspiring. Alyson Woloshyn lives with brain cancer and to be human. It threatens what is challenging herself to raise $35,000 for is most precious to us. the Alberta Cancer Foundation by her 35th birthday. She is also one of our finest ambassadors, telling donors more compellingly than we ever could how much their dollars mean. And for the first time in Leap, two Alberta Cancer Foundation staffers, Christy Soholt (page 17) and Darren Neuberger (page 22) share their stories of facing cancer. Their experiences inspired them to put their talents to work full-time to drive progress towards a cancer-free future and we are privileged to have them on board. Every story of facing cancer gets to the heart of what it is to be human. It threatens what is most precious to us. As we head into our busy summer fundraising season we will keep these stories and so many others in our hearts. This summer will see hundreds of Albertans launch their own fundraising events for the Alberta Cancer Foundation. And thousands will walk or run in the Underwear Affairs in Edmonton or Calgary, walk 30 or 60 kilometres in the Shoppers Drug Mart Weekend to End Women’s Cancers, or ride 200 kilometres along the Rockies in the Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer. Thousands of Albertans will participate in Alberta’s cancer-free movement and stand with those who have no choice but to stand up to cancer. I hope you will join us.

John Osler, Chair Alberta Cancer Foundation

ERRATA: In “An Uncommon Man,” a story in the spring 2011 issue of Leap, we listed an out-of-date title for Edie Pituskin, who is currently a PhD Candidate in the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Alberta. In the same story we used the term “invasive duct lymphoma,” where we should have written “invasive duct carcinoma.” We regret the errors.

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SUMMER VOL 2 • No. 1

ALBERTA CANCER FOUNDATION EDITOR-IN-CHIEF AND PUBLISHER: LEE ELLIOTT ASSOCIATE EDITOR: PHOEBE DEY EDITORIAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE DR. TONY FIELDS Vice-President, Cancer Care Alberta Health Services DR. HEATHER BRYANT Vice-President, Cancer Control Canadian Partnership Against Cancer DR. STEVE ROBBINS Director, Southern Alberta Cancer Research Institute Associate Director, Research, Alberta Health Services, Cancer Care CHRISTINE MCIVER CEO, Kids Cancer Care Foundation of Alberta VENTURE PUBLISHING INC. PUBLISHER: RUTH KELLY ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER: JOYCE BYRNE EDITOR: MIFI PURVIS ART DIRECTOR: CHARLES BURKE ASSOCIATE ART DIRECTOR: COLIN SPENCE PRODUCTION MANAGER: VANLEE ROBBLEE PRODUCTION COORDINATOR: BETTY-LOU SMITH DISTRIBUTION: NICK JAMISON CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Linda Carlson, Caitlin Crawshaw, Katherine Fawcett, Annalise Klingbeil, Cailynn Klingbeil, Lindsey Norris, Mifi Purvis, Tricia Radison, Robin Schroffel, Karol Sekulic, Tamara Stecyk, Debbie Olsen, Cait Wills CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS AND ILLUSTRATORS: Buffy Goodman, Brittany Merrifield, Heff O’Reilly, Aaron Pederson - 3TEN, Kelly Redinger, Raymond Reid, ABOUT THE ALBERTA CANCER FOUNDATION The Alberta Cancer Foundation is Alberta’s own, established to advance cancer research, prevention and care and serve as the charitable foundation for the Cross Cancer Institute, Tom Baker Cancer Centre and Alberta’s 15 other cancer centres. At the Alberta Cancer Foundation, we believe a cancer-free future is possible. When we get there depends on the focus and energy we put to it today.

The Alberta Cancer Foundation is more than a charity—it’s a movement for cancer-free lives, today, tomorrow and forever.
It’s a movement of those who know a cancer-free future is possible and who won’t settle for “some day.” It’s a movement of Albertans who stand with those who have no choice but to stand up to cancer. It’s a movement of those who know something can be done and are willing to do it. For those facing cancer today, in honour of those lost to cancer, and for generations to come, we promise progress.

Leap is published for the Alberta Cancer Foundation by Venture Publishing Inc., 10259-105 Street, Edmonton, AB T5J 1E3 Tel: 780-990-0839, Fax: 780-425-4921, Toll-free: 1-866-227-4276 circulation@venturepublishing.ca
The information in this publication is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek advice from your physician or other qualified health provider regarding any medical condition or treatment.
Printed in Canada by Transcontinental LGM. Leap is printed on Forest Stewarship Council ® certified paper Publications Agreement #40020055 ISSN #1923-6131 Content may not be reprinted or reproduced without permission from Alberta Cancer Foundation.

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PREVENT, TREAT, CURE

BY MIFI PURVIS AND ROBIN SCHROFFEL

Giving Back
On March 8, 2006 then-10-year-old Davis Weisner was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, tumour of the nerve tissues, that had spread to his bone marrow. Five years later, including 17 months of remission, he died of the disease. He made the time in between really matter. “Davis was a quiet kid,” says his mom, Janine Weisner. “He didn’t have a lot of words.” Yet he rose to many challenges in his life. He spoke in front of groups at school and in the community. He joined the teen leadership group of the Kids Cancer Care Foundation of Alberta. And once, he notably overcame his shyness, says Janine “and stood up in front of all of Canada to drop the puck in an Oilers-Flames game.” For the KCCFA, he raised more than $2,000 by himself (plus much more as part of his membership in the group) towards a trip to Mexico. The teen leadership group was to travel with the Rotary Club to help build houses there for low-income families. Davis was thrilled to be a part of it. Then, late last year, his health took a turn. By spring it was clear he would be unable to travel with his group. “His biggest worry was that there would be two less hands to help out,” says Janine. Very sick, he still went in person to the last trip meeting to turn his money in – it was that important to him. With a week left before the trip, Davis and his mom arrived at a great way to salvage the situation: Davis’ little sister Jessie would go in his place. “She went as his representative, not his replacement,” says Janine. Davis Skyped every night with his 13-year-old sister and the rest of the group, who made a photo album of the trip for him. “They did everything they could to include him,” says Janine. Davis Weisner died not long after his sister returned from Mexico. Next year, Jessie plans to apply to make the trip again, this time in his memory.

PERFECT PAIR: Davis, left, knew his sister Jessie, right, would carry the flame.

Come Fly With Me
Picture the fluid grace of a perfectly cast fly, and the gently plunk of it

Time for Sunshine

landing in the water. It’s more about putting yourself on that sunny stream bed in quiet companionship than it is about catching fish. Isn’t it time you had a weekend away? Let’s face it, book club retreats aren’t for everyone. Since 1997, Casting for Life has been providing women recovering from breast cancer with the opportunity to learn fly fishing and fly tying on a three-day retreat. It’s a sweet weekend away from it all, not to mention the potential for rehab benefits – with breast cancer treatment, some women lose mobility and experience arm pain and swelling that can be improved with gentle exercise. If you are a breast cancer survivor whose treatment has been completed for six or more months, and you haven’t previously attended Casting for Life, consider joining the group at Ghost River Conference Centre, an hour west of Calgary, from July 22 to 24 this summer. For more information, visit castingforlife.com.

Check out “Dear 16-year-old me” on YouTube. It’s a moving, short video comprising testimonials from young people touched by melanoma. Forward it to the sunloving teenager in your life.

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Top 10 Things to Know About Cancer in Young People
Cancer in young adults is not the same thing as you’d find in an older population. Even when it’s technically the same disease, it can behave differently in a young adult. Here are 10 things you should know about cancer in the under-40 set. NOT BUDGING: Cancer survival rates have improved in every age group except the 15-to-40 group, rates of which have not improved since the 1970s. The good news: These troubling stats are generating fresh research. LATER LOOK: Detection often happens later. Young people are seen to be in the prime of life and can discount symptoms or attribute them to other things, such as sports injuries. TRIAL & ERROR: Clinical trials sometimes don’t include adolescents and few young adults join. ISOLATION: Young people with cancer can be isolated in ways that older adults are not. Their peers may not have the frame of reference and life experience to help them support a sick friend or ask for support if they are the patients themselves. DIFFERENT ANIMAL: Cancer may behave differently, and respond differently to standard treatment in a young adult than in a child or older adult. Further study is needed. RESOURCE DEARTH: Other challenges for young people are a lack of money and the healthcare benefits plans that older adults might enjoy. FERTILITY FINDINGS: Cancer treatment can mean a loss of fertility. KILLER: Cancer causes more deaths than other diseases for people between 20 and 39. LATE EFFECTS: Treatment can save a young person’s life, but can cause damage to the heart and other organs, causing illness later. FIGURE 8: Eight times as many people between 15 and 40 get cancer as do people under age 15.

Into the Pink

“I was treated for breast cancer

in 2006,” says Wild Pink Yonder organizer Jane Hurl. “In 2005 my step-daughter died of breast cancer, so you could say we have a double mad-on for it.” It gave her a mad idea, anyway. WPY is a 22-day trail ride to raise money for the Alberta Cancer Foundation in support of breast cancer research. The route is different every year, and she and her son Rusty (“our only paid employee”) challenge towns along the route to “pinkify.” The process of pinkification involves decorating the town as imaginatively as possible in any colour, so long as it’s pink, and to raise money for the cause. “Last year the winner was Trochu,” Hurl says. “They raised more than $27,000, with a population of 11,000.” The winner of the Pinkest Town in the West, Trochu earned bragging rights, a beautiful highway road sign declaring their pinkness to all who pass by, and a free concert. “We provide the band and the win-

ning towns can charge what they want, enjoy the party and direct the funds where they want.” Visit wildpinkyonder.com or call 780-363-0003 to find out this year’s route, where you can see the riders (all of whom are pinkified, along with some of the horses) and make a pledge.

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Hear This
Andrew Abel’s brother Michael was on a mission

in Seattle with his church when he got sick. Leukemia eventually took his life but not before it inspired Andrew to raise money in his brother’s honour. Here’s what he had to say.
What was Michael like?

He was smart, funny and kind, and very musical. He was into electronic music and was really creative with incorporating different and unexpected sounds and clips into his music. He looked at things differently – he was really cool.
Was he older than you?

that I shouldn’t. Last year I held two concerts and raised nearly $1,500 for the Alberta Cancer Foundation. My sister is also a musician, she plays piano and sings, and she participated. We both made CDs and sold them at the concerts with the proceeds going to the Alberta Cancer Foundation.
Your employer at the time chipped in.

Yes, I’m 20 and Michael was 25 when he died earlier this year. After he came home from Seattle he was treated and went into remission for two years. Then, when his cancer came back, our sister Danielle donated bone marrow for a transplant.
You decided to raise money through music.

Yeah, I worked at Chapters and that’s where the concerts were held, at the west end and south side Edmonton locations. The staff there also hosted bake sales at the same time and those proceeds went to the Alberta Cancer Foundation, too. LISTEN: Andrew stopped by the Alberta Cancer Foundation office to play a tune. Check it: youtube.com/watch?v=ZvfH74yMnHM

Yes, I’m a singer/songwriter. I figured I had something to give that people appreciate and there was no reason

First Person: Pigeon Lake Pedal
My brother, Taylor Pedersen, was diagnosed

with Ewing’s Sarcoma when he was 17. It’s a cancer that affects mainly young people and it strikes the nerves, muscles, cartilage, joints, blood vessels, bone and soft tissues. His experience inspired our family to try to do something to raise money towards sarcoma research. Sarcomas are called “the forgotten cancers.” They receive little notoriety or funding. We wanted to change that. We started the Pigeon Lake Pedal seven years ago. It’s a 60-kilometre ride that starts at Pigeon Lake Provincial Park. There’s also a 20-kilometre route and a walking route available. This year we plan to direct funds towards buying two CT/PET scanners. Not sarcoma-specific, they can detect many cancers at early stages. We generally raise close to $50,000 a year and, to date we’ve raised more than a quarter of a million dollars.

The ride is on July 2 this year. There’s more information and opportunities to enter or sponsor riders at pigeonlakepedal.com. Taylor is 23 now and his health is good. Right now he’s working as a summer student in a lab at Massachusetts Hospital in Harvard and he’s going to Norway on an exchange next year. He plans to be a doctor. – Karin Pedersen

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Miles for Myeloma
“Myeloma is a cancer of the blood,” says George Campsall. “It affects the immune system, the plasma cells specifically.” Campsall should know. He has been living with the disease for two-and-a-half years. As members of the Myeloma Alberta Support Society, Campsall and fellow society member Michael Chibuk are dedicated to providing education about, and increasing awareness of myeloma as well as advocating and providing support for patients and supporting fundraising initiatives. “The group had been supporting patients informally in Alberta for seven or eight years,” says Chibuk. “Then, in 2008, we registered under the Alberta Societies Act.” The group meets in Edmonton for a couple of hours every other month and events can include presentations from guest speakers, a patient-and-caregiver sharing session and coffee and snacks. Support group committee members are on hand to discuss society questions. Myeloma is considered incurable. But Chibuk points out that research is improving treatments all the time. “When I was diagnosed a few years

ago, the lifespan for myeloma patients was considered to be three to four years,” he says. “Now it’s eight or 10 years.” He hopes to see progress continue to the point that it becomes a chronic, manageable disease. “But we’re not there yet.” The society is a strong supporter of research. George Campsall first heard about a fundraising run in Calgary called Multiple Miles for Myeloma. He and fellow society members decided Edmonton needed a similar effort. The run is in its second year in Edmonton, reports Campsall, and last year the event raised $43,000. Proceeds go to the Alberta Cancer Foundation for myeloma research in the province. Hosted by the Running Room, Miles for Myeloma is a five-kilometre fun run on July 23 in Edmonton and July 30 in Calgary. Registration is $20, so grab a pal, canvas desk-to-desk at the office and join in. It’s a great way to set a modest fitness goal. Visit the Running Room online to register. For more information about myeloma in Alberta, visit myelomacomfort.com and southernalbertamyeloma.org.

Give the gift of a lifetime.
Fred Coles was a community builder and industry titan. He was also a leader in building support for the Alberta Cancer Foundation. Fred died in May of 20 08, but his leadership continues. Today, he’s training the next generation of cancer researchers and doctors through a gift he left in his will.
Find out how you can promise progress towards a cancer-free future, please contact Derek Michael, 780 643 440 0, 1 866 412 4222 or email derek.michael@alberta cancerfoundation.ca albertacancer.ca

les Fred Co

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Dig Into Summer’s Best
Made famous in the feature-length animated hit of the same name, ratatouille is a southern French dish that makes the most of delicious (and cancer-busting) summer veggies: garlic, onion, zucchini, bell pepper, tomato and eggplant.

TRY IT TODAY

Ratatouille
1 Tbsp canola oil 2 garlic cloves, minced 1½ cup sodium-reduced tomato puree ¼ tsp fennel seeds ¼ tsp oregano pinch hot pepper flakes 1 Japanese eggplant, sliced finely 1 zucchini 2 yellow crook-neck squash, sliced finely 1 red or orange bell pepper, sliced finely into rings 1 small red onion, slivered 1 Tbsp canola oil ¼ tsp each: thyme, black pepper, coriander seeds 1/3 cup shredded fresh basil salt & pepper to taste Directions Preheat oven to 375 °F. Mix the first six ingredients together and pour into the bottom of a shallow baking dish or rectangular casserole dish. The veggies should be sliced finely and evenly. Arrange them in the dish, overlapping, alternating the slices, so they lie like tipped dominoes. Work in the slivered onion amongst the slices. Mix the second tablespoon of oil with the remaining dried and fresh herbs. Drizzle this mix over the veggies. Cover dish with tin foil punctured in several places. Bake for approximately 30 minutes, remove the foil and bake for about 15 more minutes. The vegetables be cooked but still holding their shape and shouldn’t be soggy. Serve with a nice, grainy bread. Serves 6.

Pick up your free copy of My journey coming this summer at centres throughout the province Tom Baker Cancer Centre:
• •

New patient information sessions Alberta Cancer Foundation office

Cross Cancer Institute:

New patient registration Alberta Cancer Foundation office Cancer Information Centre

For those facing cancer today…
Make the health-care system easier to navigate by managing your cancer care in a patient journal from the Alberta Cancer Foundation.
The more information you can track and communicate with your care team, the more they can ease your cancer journey.

• •

Associate cancer centres:
• • • •

Grande Prairie Cancer Centre Central Alberta Cancer Centre (Red Deer) Medicine Hat Cancer Centre Jack Ady Cancer Centre (Lethbridge)

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The Tomorrow Project
Will You Lend a Hand?
just two hours of your time will help researchers discover more about what causes cancer and how to prevent it. What is the Tomorrow Project?
The Tomorrow Project is a national research study devoted to helping scientists find new ways of preventing and treating cancer, and other diseases in the future. The Tomorrow Project began in Alberta in 2001 as a local research study with funding from Alberta Cancer Foundation, which continues to be a major funding partner.

Who Can Join?
The Tomorrow Project aims to recruit 50,000 Albertans (aged 35-69, who have never had cancer) by 2012.

Enroll in Alberta’s Tomorrow Project Now
Help researchers discover more about what causes cancer and other long-term health conditions.

For more InFormaTIon or To joIn The sTudy

vIsIT:

www.thetomorrowproject.org and complete the on-line form call: 1 877 919-9292

In Partnership With

bodymind /

MAKING POSITIVE CONNECTIONS

A Deeper Blue
BY LINDA E. CARLSON
Cancer patients sometimes joke that this is the only time in their lives when they truly have license to lie in bed all day. Indeed, some days you may not be able to do anything else; this is expected and you should be taking it easy during intense treatments. But what if you find yourself feeling down and out, with no energy, motivation or interest in life months later? When is enough enough? This is an important question, especially considering that current research shows people with cancer who So if you’re depressed, what can you do about it? First of all, don’t blame yourself suffer from clinical levels of depression consistently over or take on too much responsibility for your outcomes – this research suggests that time also have shorter survival times. Research indicates that depression is a risk factor for poorer outcomes across depression may be one factor in outcomes, but it’s not the only one. Cancer is very complicated and issues such as genetics, environmental exposure and the nature and many other types of cancer. spread of your illness needs to be taken into account as well. Most recently, a study published in the Journal of But this research tells us it’s important to treat your depression, both for your own Clinical Oncology lead by Dr. Janine Giese-Davis, a quality of life and potentially your quantity of life as well. The interesting thing about psychologist at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre, confirmed Dr. Giese-Davis’ study was that it didn’t matter how women decreased their levels of this link. Women with metastatic breast cancer who had depression; what was important was just that they felt better a year after their diagnosis. decreasing levels of depression over a period of one year There are many options for treating depression. You can talk to a counsellor or survived more than twice the time of women who had psychiatrist (both the Tom Baker Cancer Centre and Cross Cancer Institute have many increasing levels of depression (54 months versus 25 available at no charge), attend professionally-led support groups, months). This effect was found talk to someone from your religious or spiritual community and even taking into account other It’s important to treat confide in your friends. Antidepressant medications in conjunction important medical information. your depression, both with talk therapy can also be helpful if you find yourself unable to So how do you know if you for your own quality of escape from depression’s hold. Physical exercise also helps to are truly depressed or if it’s just a life and potentially your boost moods, as does meditation and yoga. normal reaction to an unwanted quantity of life as well. The key is not to force yourself to be cheerful if you don’t really life event? The diagnostic feel that way, but to find an avenue to work through your thoughts criteria for a depressive episode and feelings. Over time, depression’s hold will likely weaken. Seriously considering include feeling sad for most of the day for at least a suicide is a medical emergency and means you should visit an emergency department two-week stretch, and/or loss of interest or pleasure in for immediate treatment. daily activities. These are often accompanied by other Natural reactions of sadness, grief and loss need not entrench themselves into a symptoms such as insomnia (inability to sleep) or lasting depression. Support is available – the key is to reach out. hypersomnia (sleeping all the time), decreases in activity levels, fatigue or loss of energy, feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt, diminished ability to think or Dr. Linda Carlson is the Enbridge Chair in Psychosocial Oncology at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre, a concentrate, and recurrent thoughts of death (not just professor and a clinical psychologist at the University of Calgary and co-author of Mindfulness-Based fear of dying) or a plan for, or attempt at suicide. If these Cancer Recovery: A Mbsr Approach to Help You Cope With Treatment and Reclaim Your Life. Learn symptoms persist for two months a major depressive more at lindacarlson.ca. disorder can be diagnosed. The problem with using these criteria for people with cancer is that cancer and its treatments can also cause CONTACT: Find out about taking care of your mental health many of the physical symptoms of depression such by calling the Department of Psychosocial Resources. In Calgary, call the Tom Baker Cancer Centre at 403-355-3207. In Edmonton, try the Cross as fatigue, sleep problems and cognitive problems Cancer Institute at 780-643-4303. In other communities in the province, (sometimes called “chemo-brain”), so it’s better to focus call your local Community Cancer Centre. on symptoms such as loss of interest, sad mood and thoughts of suicide. 12

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FOOD FOR LIFE

Home Plate
BY KAROL SEKULIC
Alberta’s vegetables are as delicious in their variety as they are in taste. Even the pickiest eaters will find some veggie to love. And fruit? Well, fruit is nature’s treat. And unlike other treats, Alberta fruit is as rich as veggies in nutrients and antioxidants and can reduce the risk of certain cancers. High in water and fibre and generally lower in calories, produce can also help us manage our weight. Being at a healthy weight can help reduce cancer risk too. Make it easier and more fun to love your produce this summer by opting for the best Alberta’s farms and fields have to offer. Read on for some ways to get some local cancer-busting vegetables and fruit into your day – and into you. in planters or rent a community garden plot.

What local vegetables and fruit should you eat to reduce the risk of cancer?
The report Food, Nutrition and the Prevention of Cancer: A Global Perspective specifies that non-starchy vegetables and fruit probably protect against some cancers such as mouth, pharyngeal, laryngeal, esophageal, stomach and colorectal. Examples of non-starchy vegetables that are commonly grown in Alberta include green leafy vegetables, tomatoes, beans, peas and bok choy. Potato, yam and sweet potato are examples of starchy vegetables. Keep in mind that all vegetables, starchy or not, local or not, are still nutrient-rich. For dessert, try some fresh blueberries, raspberries or strawberries. At the peak of summer sweetness, berries freeze well. Buy frozen or freeze them yourself in batches on a cookie sheet, transferring to sealable bags. They are ready in your freezer for baking or smoothie making.

Green at heart Power up your meals with these easy additions.
GIVE A TOSS: Add a cup of green beans to your meal, steamed first and tossed in a drizzle of sesame oil. FIELD FRESH: Choose a leafy green salad as a side dish. FAST FOOD: Take some crunchy vegetables, such as broccoli and carrots, to work or to the movies for a snack. CABBAGE PATCH: Bring coleslaw to your next potluck or picnic. BERRY GOOD: Toss some berries on your cereal or ice cream for a nutritious, delicious punch. ONLY VAMPIRES AVOID GARLIC: Mince a little garlic and put it into salad dressings or sauté your vegetables with it. MORE IS BETTER: Increase the variety of your meals by including one new or locally-sourced food each week.

Choose local produce
The local food movement isn’t new. Championed in the book The 100-Mile Diet by Vancouver writers Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon, local eating is easier now than it was a decade ago. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency defines local food as grown or produced within 50 kilometres of where it is sold. Fresh and tasty, it’s usually easier on the environment, as it wasn’t shipped from another country – or continent. Find local food by visiting a farmers’ market or asking the produce manager of your favourite grocery store to stock more local foods and clearly identify them as such. Make a day of it this summer by visiting a U-pick farm with your friends or family to pick fresh. And think about starting your own veggie patch or pot at home. Beginners should try carrots, beans, snap peas, lettuce and onions. If you don’t have a garden space, try growing tomatoes

How much is enough?
Aim to have seven to 10 servings per day. It sounds like a lot, but when you think that half a cup (125 mL) of fresh or frozen vegetables is a serving, it adds up quickly. Increase your intake by having a bowl of fruit in easy reach. Keep washed and cut veggies in see-through containers in the fridge. That way they are convenient to snack on or to have handy for meal preparation on a busy workday.
Karol Sekulic is a registered dietitian with expertise and interest in the areas of weight management, nutrition and communications.

Photograph courtesy of Travel Alberta

Find local foods in season
eatlocalfirst.com albertamarkets.com albertafarmfresh.com eatalberta.ca

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asktheexpert /

A RESOURCE FOR YOU

YOU’VE GOT QUESTIONS
Leap consults the experts with some of your most pressing concerns
After eight months of taking tamoxifen I was told by a cardiologist that I had high triglycerides. After 14 months on tamoxifen I stopped taking it and my triglycerides went down to normal. I have since restarted the tamoxifen. Does having high triglycerides play a role in heart disease? Are you familiar with the claim that tamoxifen causes triglycerides to increase?

Tamoxifen, which breast cancer patients take orally, has been used for three decades to treat and, more recently, prevent some breast cancers in susceptible people. Estrogen, a hormone the body produces, can promote the development of cancer in the breast. Estrogen spurs the growth of breast cancer cells in estrogen receptor-positive cancers. Tamoxifen interferes with the way estrogen interacts with these cells and, as such, is known as a SERM (Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulator). “Tamoxifen is an endocrine treatment most often taken to prevent breast cancer from recurring after surgical resection,” says Dr. John Mackey, medical oncologist at the Cross Cancer Institute in Edmonton. In some cases physicians prescribe it to try to cure the cancer and, in metastatic cases, it can be used to slow or stop the growth of cancer. It’s a well-studied and generally well-tolerated drug. Hypertriglyceridemia is a condition in which higher-than-normal levels of fat are found in the blood, explains Mackey. “A small percentage of women taking tamoxifen find that their blood triglyceride levels do increase,” he says. “In contrast, the levels of bad cholesterol frequently decrease.” In general, women taking tamoxifen usually have a favourable change in the levels of fat their blood. “Tamoxifen,” Mackey says, “does not cause higher rates of heart attacks.”

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I take vitamin D in the winter. Do I need to take it in the summer, too? I’m fair so I use sunscreen.

Vitamin D is increasingly associated with a reduction in the risk of developing some kinds of cancer. A number of studies have been completed and more are underway. One study looked at 1,200 healthy postmenopausal women who took daily supplements of calcium and 1,100 IU of vitamin D or a placebo for four years. Subjects who took supplements had a 60 per cent lower incidence of cancer overall. Another study established a possible reduction in mortality from colorectal cancer among subjects with a higher dietary and supplemental intake as compared to those in the lower end of vitamin D intake. Other studies of cancer and vitamin D have shown no cancer risk or disease reduction. Dr. Gerry Schwalfenberg, assistant clinical professor at the University of Alberta, points out that in the lab, vitamin D is proven to encourage apoptosis, or cell death. The lack of apoptosis results in the uncontrolled cell growth that is the hallmark of cancer. “Vitamin D production can be blocked by as much as 85 per cent with the use of sunscreen that has as little as SPF eight,” Schwalfenberg says. “So yes, I advise people to continue taking vitamin D supplements in the summer.” He explains that it takes about 15 minutes in the sun at midday, with arms and legs exposed, for a fair-skinned person’s body to make enough vitamin D. A darker-skinned person would need five times as much sun, as the melanin in their skin acts as a natural sunscreen. While some agencies recommend people take vitamin D supplements of 1,000 IU per day, Schwalfenberg recommends double that amount. Foods high in vitamin D include fortified milk, eggs and oily fish such as mackerel, salmon and Arctic char.

Does taking oral contraceptives increase my cancer risk? “The relationship between oral contraceptives and cancer is well-studied,” says Krista Rawson, nurse practitioner at the Central Alberta Cancer Centre. “There are many variables that play a role.” While a woman is taking oral contraceptives, her risk of breast cancer may be very slightly higher. But women with breast cancer who have taken the pill in the past generally have less-advanced disease than women who have not. A National Cancer Institute-sponsored study had researchers examine risk factors for breast cancer among women ages 20 to 34 and compare them to women ages 35 to 54. “Ten years after stopping the pill,” Rawson says, “a woman’s risk of being diagnosed with cancer is back to what it would normally be, all factors considered.” And there may be benefits, too. “Breast cancers diagnosed in women 10 or more years after they had finished using oral contraceptives were less advanced than breast cancers diagnosed in women who had never taken the pill,” Rawson says. The collaborative analysis that established this link between less-advanced breast cancer and the pill was published in the British medical journal The Lancet. It examined the results of 54 studies involving 53,297 women with breast cancer and 100,239 women without breast cancer. More than 200 researchers participated in this combined analysis of their original studies, which represented about 90 per cent of the epidemiological studies throughout the world that had investigated the possible relationship between oral contraceptives and breast cancer. A second large study, called the Women’s CARE study (published in the New England Journal of Medicine) looked at almost 5,000 women aged 35 to 64 who had breast cancer. They compared them to the same number of women who had not been diagnosed with breast cancer. “The results showed there was no significantly increased risk of breast cancer,” Rawson says. Even including factors such as longer periods of time of taking oral contraceptives, starting contraceptives before the age of 20 and having family history of cancer didn’t increase the risk of breast cancer among women who had taken the pill. Ask our experts questions regarding cancer prevention and treatment. Please submit them via email to letters@myleapmagazine.ca. Remember, the advice below is never a substitute for talking directly to your family doctor.

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Cancer: YOUNG ADULTS OVERCOME

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The risk of infertility after cancer treatment is a shock to many young couples, but there is still plenty of hope

BY TRICIA RADISON / ILLUSTRATION BY HEFF O’REILLY

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hristy Soholt and her husband Trevor had just started talking seriously about having a baby when Christy noticed a lump in her breast. At 28, the Edmonton resident wasn’t concerned; as her doctor said, it was probably a cyst. Still, Christy and Trevor put their parenting plans on hold for a couple of weeks while she waited for the lump to disappear. Instead, there was a change of plans. Christy’s doctor decided on a biopsy and Christy was diagnosed with breast cancer. The next day she was in a surgeon’s office. “He talked about my options for lumpectomy and mastectomy (removing the lump or the entire breast), then went on to say I would need chemotherapy, and that treatment would likely make me sterile,” says Christy. The news was shocking. Like many people, the Soholts had no idea that cancer treatment could have this particular lifealtering impact. As Christy soon learned, her surgeon was misinformed; not all women treated for cancer end up infertile. “The rate of infertility varies greatly depending on age, the kind of chemotherapy agent and other factors in the person’s medical history,” explains Dr. Shu Foong, a physician for the Regional Fertility Program in Calgary. “But there is, unfortunately, no one test that can accurately predict who will or will not have trouble with infertility following chemotherapy.” Chemotherapy and radiation can destroy rapidly dividing cells, and that includes the eggs that a woman is born with. Treatment can put a woman into early menopause, making her unable to get pregnant without

medical intervention. If only partial destruction of eggs occurs, her periods may resume, but fertility may still be affected. Eggs can be badly damaged and, because there may be fewer eggs left, she may go into menopause earlier. It means that women who are diagnosed with cancer and want to preserve their fertility need to consider their options at the outset. Just days after the diagnosis, Christy and Trevor travelled to the Regional Fertility Program clinic in Calgary to find out what they could do to preserve their dreams of having a baby. There they learned that their best option for a biological child was in vitro fertilization (IVF), in which a woman’s eggs are harvested and fertilized outside her body, and the resulting embryos are frozen, saved for implantation after treatment is finished. “That’s your gold standard,” says Dr. Foong. “It’s important for people to realize that if you try to preserve fertility, you want to go with the best chances of success.” But the cost is high. Depending on whether you have coverage, IVF can cost approximately $10,000 to $12,000. The success rates for younger women like Christy are 50 per cent or higher. The only other option is to freeze (or vitrify) eggs. Women go through the same process of hormone injection and egg harvesting, and then the unfertilized eggs are frozen. At a later date, the eggs are thawed and fertilized, and the embryos are placed into the uterus when required. The process, says Dr. Foong, is still experimental and doesn’t work as well as freezing embryos. Christy and Trevor decided to forgo freezing embryos or eggs for a number of reasons. The cost was high for the

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young couple and they knew that Christy could come through treatment we’ll have made a lot of progress,” she says. The couple has also explored international and domestic adoption. with her fertility intact. They would also have to travel to Calgary to begin After an eight-month application process, they have put their names on hormone injections the day after Christy had surgery. a waiting list for the private adoption of “At this point in my cancer diagnosis, I didn’t know if my tumour Ultimately, Christy and Trevor realized a newborn. They’ve been on the list for a was hormone-receptor positive,” she they needed to focus on the present, year and will continue trying to conceive. “I’m so determined now that this will says. Injecting hormones could spur on taking care of Christy, rather than happen for us,” says Christy, of her desire to on the growth of such cancer. “We on what might happen in the future. have a family one way or another. “Before, also didn’t think driving three-anda-half hours the day after my first-ever surgery was a great idea,” says we thought maybe kids wouldn’t be a thing for us. Now we are so aware of Christy. Ultimately, she explains, they realized they needed to focus on how precious life is and how much we do want a family.” the present, on taking care of Christy rather than on what might happen in the future. It’s a decision that Trevor says he might not have made today. He describes IVF as “another tool,” one that could extend the options of couples seeking to preserve fertility. • Talk to your doctor early. This gives you more time to Christy and Trevor may have had to delay their plan for a family, but gather information and make a decision. the plan hasn’t changed. Christy remains hopeful in spite of an insensitive • Look for accurate information. The medical community comment from a doctor at a fertility clinic in Edmonton who Christy saw is becoming more informed thanks to doctors like to find out if there was anything she could do to increase the likelihood of Dr. Foong, who lectures and writes on this subject, but conception. as Christy’s experience shows, there is still “I had gone through genetic testing because I got breast cancer so misinformation out there. Websites like fertilehope.org young,” says Christy. She carries a genetic mutation that increases the and fertile-future.com are good places to start. risk of both breast cancer and ovarian cancer. “The doctor at the fertility • Focus on today. If you’re in treatment, you need to take clinic said that I should be grateful that I couldn’t have children because care of yourself. Remember too, that science is always I wouldn’t pass on the mutation and have to live with that guilt.” advancing. For example, ovarian tissue preservation As a communications associate at the Alberta Cancer Foundation, may someday allow doctors to preserve a part of the Christy doesn’t agree. Because of her job, she understands that ovary to allow for transplantation at a later date. the knowledge about cancer and techniques for preventing and treating it are evolving constantly. “By the time my children are my age,

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Cancer: YOUNG ADULTS OVERCOME

All by Myself
Young adults are blindsided by cancer. It changes relationships and can be especially isolating
BY TAMARA STECYK

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n 2004, Ashley Rose was immersed in her Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Alberta and burning the candle at both ends, taking a summer course and working full-time. One day, feeling the weight of fatigue, Rose was walking across a parking lot after a class. She looked at a cement block and thought it looked comfortable enough to be a pillow. The 21-year-old had never been so tired. A couple of weeks later, she was sitting in a large lecture hall. Every time she extended her neck to look up from her notes to the professor, her breath would catch. It was time to see the doctor. A few days after her appointment, Rose arrived home from her second day as an occupational therapist practicum

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student, to discover two missed calls from her doctor and three messages from a surgeon. Nervously, she dialled the doctor’s office. They were closing but told her if she could make it in 15 minutes, they would stay open for her. The rain was pounding as she raced 80-kilometresan-hour to hear the results. It was thyroid cancer. “I was crushed,” Rose says. “They figured that I’d had it for five to 10 years. It had spread into my breast tissue.” The diagnosis would change her.

When she was diagnosed, Margo Schulte Long was afraid. “Then, seeing how everyone else was reacting around me, I started worrying how other people were doing.”
Young adults who get this kind of news are often blindsided. They’re at the prime of their lives. It can change not just their health but how they relate to friends and family. It’s especially difficult for young people to handle these changes in their relationships. Rose may have had family and friends surrounding her while she was being treated but she still grappled with feelings of isolation and rejection. And she wasn’t the only one in the family who was sick. Her father was being treated at the time for nonHodgkin’s lymphoma; Rose was admitted to the hospital just two days after he was discharged. “I was worried about my family,” Rose says. She didn’t want her diagnosis to add more stress. Once she recovered from her surgery, Rose returned to her life as a student while grappling with cancer. “I found the hardest part was perspective. My friends were all going out travelling and partying,” she says. “I was bound to the outcome of my medical tests.” In between classes, she would visit her doctor, whose

office was near the university at the Cross Cancer Institute. But Rose wasn’t finding the peer support that she needed. She did discover who her friends were. She drifted apart from some who seemed unable to handle the fact that she had cancer. One of them was a close friend who was in medical school but couldn’t cope with Rose’s illness. Others seemed to rally around her. Three friends in particular stuck by her; one of them made her a stained glass angel so Rose could always have an angel beside her. During one hospital visit, Rose was recovering from an operation and was nauseated from the anaesthetic. “When friends come to the hospital to hold your puke bucket – it solidified friendships to this day.” Later, Rose’s mother told her that she had seen the same unflappable friends in the hallway, pale and grim, even crying, out of Rose’s sight so as to not upset her. Rose still needed to talk to others her age who could comprehend what she was going through. She turned to Young Adult Cancer Canada, a national organization to support young adults with cancer. She also signed up for a nine-day kayaking trip on the Owyhee River in Oregon with Survive and Thrive, an annual expedition for young cancer survivors, last summer. The expedition provides young adults a chance to reflect on their journey with cancer and an opportunity to reclaim their lives. “I thought I was doing great but there’s something to be said about being with other people who’ve gone through the same thing,” she says. “It’s not that cancer defines who we are. It’s part of who we are.” Réjeanne Dupuis, a psychologist at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre in Calgary, says isolation stems from friends and family who don’t know how to interact with a cancer patient. “There’s a stigma about being sick,” Dupuis says. “People know it is a life threatening issue. People don’t know what to say to a cancer patient.” And cancer patients, especially young adults, don’t want to burden their friends and family.

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ADJUST TO THE NEW NORMAL
Réjeanne Dupuis, a psychologist at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre in Calgary, advises young cancer patients to talk to friends and family about frustrations, fears and other issues. If it’s too difficult to communicate to loved ones, then find counselling, meet other young adults with cancer or join a support group. Dupuis advises patients to step back and look at life from another perspective. Try not to think you’re missing out on experiences such as parenting your children, school or building a career. Reframing your thoughts and beliefs about what is happening can help to alleviate stress. Being less involved with day-to-day family activities doesn’t negate your importance as a mother or father. Talk to your children daily, either by phone or in person, for consistent contact and reassurance. Laughter is indeed one of the best medicines. Plan to have a good laugh every day or take a Laughing Yoga class. Visit www.laughteryoga.org to look up one of 12 club locations in Alberta.

“Often, they don’t know what they need,” Dupuis says. “They don’t feel like they are contributing anymore.” Margo Schulte Long felt she wasn’t putting as much into her role as a mother to her identical twin babies and threeyear-old daughter as she wanted to after her diagnosis with follicular non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2002. Her pregnancy was problem-free. That summer, by the time Georgia and Mikal were two months old, Schulte Long had them on a regular breastfeeding schedule and she was feeling great by getting back in shape through jogging. One morning she was checking herself out in the mirror, thinking how well she was doing about reclaiming her body from a pregnant state. Schulte Long turned sideways and noticed that she still looked like a woman who was in the third month of pregnancy. She ran her hand over the area and felt a large ridge around her belly that couldn’t be extra fat or excess skin. It was a lump that wasn’t going down. Her doctor suggested it was fibroids and booked an ultrasound. Schulte Long eventually found that she had a slow-growing and currently incurable cancer. Her largest tumour was 17 centimetres in diameter. Schulte Long, 31 at the time, says she couldn’t release her feelings about her diagnosis. “At first, I was in pretty extreme terror and then, seeing how everyone else was reacting around me, I changed to damage control,” she says. “I started worrying how other people were doing.” During her chemotherapy and a new immunotherapy treatment, she would end up in a lot of pain and vomiting, resulting in several trips to the emergency room. By January, it was decided that the clinical drug trial wasn’t working and she was put on a different treatment. “I was a mess. I spent a lot of time either with home care or being in the hospital. I just had to make it through each minute,” says Schulte Long. In the meantime, her first husband and parents stepped up to help with the three girls. Schulte Long had a difficult time trying not to resent that she was missing parts of her

children’s lives, especially the twin babies. “It was really hard to know I wasn’t raising the babies. The babies didn’t know me. I didn’t have anyone to talk to about it. Just like you die alone, you go through sickness alone. It’s such a singular, solo journey,” she says. Her form of cancer usually targets older people and Schulte Long couldn’t relate to other cancer patients. “When I got this, there was no one to talk to. I couldn’t be part of the breast cancer movement. I had no group,” she says. “I have the disease that’s only for 65-year-olds.” Schulte Long is now in remission. She coped with her cancer by starting the SnowBall, an annual fundraiser for the Alberta Cancer Foundation, in 2003. The last SnowBall was held in 2009 and the combined events raised between $60,000 and $70,000 for the foundation. Both Rose and Schulte Long still feel there is much room for growth to support young adults with cancer in Alberta. Rose says she is living a dream life right now as she just landed her perfect job with the Edmonton Catholic Schools and has bought her first house. Schutle Long has remarried and is busy maintaining a household that sometimes holds five children. This past April, Rose attended an Edmonton movie screening for Wrong Way to Hope, a film about a group of young Canadians with cancer who went on the expedition on the Owyhee River, led by 25-year-old Mike Lang. Following the screening, Rose asked the 60-member audience if she could collect names and contact information for an Edmonton support group for young adults with cancer. Eight young people gave her their information. Rose has been researching how to start a group and how to reach out to young people. She knows that many young cancer patients go through what’s called “reintrajectorization,” the process of reconnecting with their old lives while grappling with the disease. “Long after diagnosis, you realize what impact it has on your life, personality and future,” Rose says. “Don’t be afraid to live your life. There is hope for life after cancer.”

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BY LINDSEY NORRIS / ILLUSTRATION BY RAYMOND REID

The world stops in the face of a cancer diagnosis. But the financial pressures of day-to-day life don’t go away, even for cancer

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he year 2003 promised to be a very good one for Darren Neuberger. After years working in sales, the 34-year-old was starting a new career testing wells for an oil-and-gas company based in Grande Prairie. His wife, Jaylene, also had new prospects on the horizon: She was finishing college and starting a new job. But Neuberger had been dogged by a cough all year. He’d seen a doctor a couple of times and had been sent home – it was flu season, after all. Finally, on a Friday just before he was to leave his home in Lethbridge for a month-long trip to an oil-and-gas camp, Jaylene convinced him to go to the emergency room. She thought he had pneumonia and didn’t want him going to camp without medicine for it. The ER doctor listened to his chest and nearly sent him home, too, until Neuberger mentioned a strange lump on his collarbone. The doctor sent him for a series of tests. By that afternoon, Neuberger had been diagnosed with cancer. It was acute lymphocytic leukemia. His good year changed irrevocably. Instead of heading to camp, he was admitted as an in-patient at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre in Calgary, two hours from home. High-dose chemo ravaged his immune system, and he contracted e-coli and a high fever. He was not able to go home for five months, and ultimately underwent treatment for a gruelling two years. For a young couple beginning new careers, it was two years of financial drought. “People often forget that when you go through the cancer care experience, it isn’t just treatment,” Neuberger says. “Life goes on; bills go on.” Neuberger received disability assistance, and they scraped by on his wife’s entry-level salary. They also received some extra help from the Alberta Cancer Foundation’s Patient Assistance Fund, available to provide short-term help to families with urgent financial needs. “It helped us out in so many ways,” Neuberger says. “It took away the worry of how my wife was going to get to Calgary to see me. They helped us with gift certificates for groceries. It takes away one more stress that you don’t need when you’re going through the uncertainty of a cancer diagnosis.”
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SUPPORTING THE PATIENT FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE FUND
Bernie Dunlop is a social worker at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre. She meets people when they are first diagnosed with cancer, or sometimes when they have recently had surgery, or are struggling with treatment. She says completing a financial assessment of cancer patients is one of the highest priorities for social workers. “When people receive a diagnosis that usually means a drastic reduction in household income,” Dunlop says. That’s a problem, since it is not unusual for many families to live paycheque-to-paycheque, and they may be extremely uncomfortable talking about their personal finances. “It is very humbling,” she says. “It is hard for people to tell us how much is in their chequing and savings accounts, if they even have them.” Sometimes Dunlop directs people to social services. Social workers can also intercede with an insurance company if it begins to restrict coverage. She can also help people find debt-reduction resources. But for immediate, short-term assistance, she directs people to the Alberta Cancer Foundation’s Patient Financial Assistance Fund. “For the individuals who are able to access this fund, we really stress the importance of it, because it allows them to focus on their self-care,” she says. It took a lot of stress off of the Neubergers. Darren has now been cancer-free for six years, and works for the Alberta Cancer Foundation at the Jack Ady Centre in
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The Patient Financial Assistance Fund can be accessed by patients in need. After a financial assessment, a social worker provides the appropriate forms and, in some cases patients can access funds immediately so that nobody has to leave without the necessary medications. The fund is supported by donations to the Alberta Cancer Foundation. The foundation designates about 70 per cent of funds towards research, 15 per cent to prevention and early diagnosis and 15 per cent to patient support, which includes the Patient Financial Assistance Fund. Donors to the ACF can designate where they would like their money to go. Donations can stay in the community of origin to help people with immediate financial needs, including gift certificates for groceries, travel expenses and medication.

Lethbridge. In his off-work hours, he hosts the Let’s Talk About It radio show and wrote a book, Let’s Talk About It, focusing on people aged 18 to 34 who have cancer. “There are a lot of us in that age group, where you may be starting a family, or are unable to have children because of treatment, and you aren’t under the care of your parents anymore but you may not have a lot of financial stability either,” he says. In retrospect, he wishes he had listened to the insurance advisors who wanted to talk to him about disability coverage, as he had recently started a new job and wasn’t eligible for benefits from his employer. Although their family developed excellent budgeting skills, and even had some money in the bank when Neuberger was declared cancer-free in 2005, they went without things others might consider necessary. They cut back on everything. Now he makes a point to tell people to plan for emergencies, even if it’s $20 a month, and to accept the help that is available. “You never know when you will be on the other side of that situation and able to be give back,” he says. “And it’s important, because at the end of the day, you should be focusing on getting better.”

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No Pity Party
Who would blame Alyson Woloshyn if she opted to focus exclusively on herself? Instead, she gives back
BY MIFI PURVIS

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lyson Woloshyn had a new position at the University of Calgary, one that challenged and invigorated her, as the director of a student service centre. She had found the love of her life, optometrist Jared Long, and moved to the city with him from Ontario in 2003. They led healthy, active lives and, as eager skiers, the pair relished the chance to live close to the Rockies. But in the fall of 2008, then-32-year-old Woloshyn started watching TV – lots of TV. “I fell into a funk,” she says. “I was bored all the time – apathetic and depressed.” To Long, who was used to sharing his life with the vivacious go-getter he had coaxed to Alberta from Kitchener, the change was creeping but clear. “When he said anything about it, I blamed it on the stress of my job,” Woloshyn says. In February, Woloshyn stirred herself to go skiing with friends and suffered a bout of vertigo at the top of a hill. It was a particularly steep hill so she brushed the vertigo off. But throughout the winter and early spring, she was visited by occasional dizziness. In March, the headaches started. Over the next few weeks, they grew in frequency and intensity, causing her to miss work. “You never get headaches,” Long told her. “Go see your doctor.” “I did, and my blood work was fine,” Woloshyn says. The weather had recently been changeable and Calgary is famous for its migraine-inducing Chinooks. “My doctor wanted to wait until the weather stabilized and then look into it.” She went home and suffered a deepening headache for the better part of the next three days before dragging herself to a walk-in clinic. The doctor there referred her for an out-patient CT, which could take some time. On Thursday morning of that week, a staff member came into her office, took one look at her and sent her home to get some rest before a scheduled Monday trip to Kelowna. More tired and headachy than sick, Woloshyn went to a scheduled massage and haircut the next day. Sitting in the salon chair at Swizzlestix, she fell asleep twice. “When I got home I fell into bed,” she says. “A couple
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GREEN LIGHT: Alyson Woloshyn, far right, at a University of Calgary event with former CEO Linda Michelson and University of Calgary president Dr. Elizabeth Cannon

of hours later I asked Jared to get me a bucket and I started throwing up. He said, ‘That’s it.’ We got into the car and he took me to the emergency room at Foothills Hospital.” Long went to park the car and by the time he got back, Woloshyn had been triaged and had seen a doctor, who arranged for a CT scan. The scan revealed a seven-centimetre growth in her brain. Odds were good that it wasn’t cancer. Woloshyn sailed through brain surgery and was discharged a few days later. “This is how naive I was: I’d called my boss and said that I needed a few days off work,” she says. “When they called me for my follow-up appointment three days later, I figured they would tell me it wasn’t cancer – that I’d be out in 20 minutes.” That appointment lasted three hours. Woloshyn was diagnosed with glioblastoma, a rare brain cancer. “There are four grades and mine is a Grade 4, the most severe,” she explains, her voice unwavering. “It has fingered into my brain and it’s difficult for surgeons to tell what’s brain and what’s tumour.” Woloshyn, Long and her parents attended the appointment. “I can’t say enough about the care we received,” Woloshyn says. “They had all the resources there for us, and a full layout of a treatment plan.” She received radiation five times a week for six weeks concurrently with low-dose chemotherapy. For the next year, she used a new drug, Temodol, in a treatment regimen that was pioneered in part at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre, funded in part by the Alberta Cancer Foundation. Today, Alyson Woloshyn’s health is good. She does everything she can to maintain an anti-cancer lifestyle, including working with a naturopath, as well as her
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oncologist and other medical staff. She recently returned to a new position at the University of Calgary. The future, while shorter than she had hoped – “I hope to live another five or 10 years” – still looks bright to her. Clearly, her diagnosis was life-altering. And who would blame her if she opted to focus exclusively on her own health? But for Woloshyn, the change was a watershed that spurred her on to do better and be more. “I’ve always believed that you need to put more in than you take out,” she says. “When I looked for ways I could help, it didn’t take long to find the Alberta Cancer Foundation.” She speaks at events to help the organization raise money for research and treatment, and plans to donate to the organization part of the income from a selfpublished book about her journey. “I hope that through my example, others will also look to donate their time and money and put a little back.” She has received the maximum treatment available for brain cancer – there is nothing else. She hopes future patients in her position will have more options. She says she has the skill set that could allow her to make an impact: event planning, organization and motivational speaking. All she needed was the impetus to bring it all together. Unfortunately, that came in the form of glioblastoma. She started a blog at alysonwoloshyn.com, at first to update friends on her condition, and then to inspire people to give back. Her enthusiasm is remarkable. She writes: “I may not have chosen this path, but I choose to use the journey to make a significant difference.”

THE CAUSE
Alyson Woloshyn supports the Alberta Cancer Foundation – Brain Specific Research Trials and Grants. Find out more: donate.albertacancer.ca/netcommunity/woloshynwarrior Every dollar raised will be put into research that focuses on finding a cure for brain cancer. To support this journey, Alyson launched Woloshyn’s Warriors Event Tour, series of events to raise funds for the Alberta Cancer Foundation. To buy her book, go to www.alysonwolyshon.com

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Some people aim to get through cancer and get back to their lives. For some younger patients, it can change life’s course
BY KATHERINE FAWCETT / PHOTOGRAPHED BY BRITTANY MERRIFIELD

ill you marry me?” “You got the job.” “I’m pregnant!” “Your mortgage has been approved.” These are the life-changing phrases young adults may not expect to hear every day, but they are within the scope of possibility. They are part of the lexicon of the generation, a generation brimming with excitement and hope, making career and family choices, and establishing a unique identity in the community. “You’ve got cancer” is a phrase that doesn’t fit into that worldview. But it’s one that slapped Mike Lang in the face three years ago. An athlete with a love of the outdoors, Lang was concerned that his shortness of breath might be asthma and that it would slow him down. It turned out to be a cancerous tumour the size of a baseball. Within days a variety of other tumours were discovered throughout his body. Lang was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and began aggressive chemotherapy almost immediately. He was 25 years old. Lang, a native Albertan who lives in Calgary, was a graduate of Trinity Western University with a Bachelor of Human Kinetics in recreation. He had been working as an adventure guide with at-risk youth. He’d married Bonnie only a few months earlier and the two loved nothing more than skiing, rock-climbing, kayaking and mountaineering.

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Cancer: YOUNG ADULTS OVERCOME

TAKE IT EASY: Lang and his wife Bonnie take advantage of life, never taking anything for granted.

“I’d been working with at-risk youth, doing something good with my life and it was acceptance, perhaps young children at home and isolataken away from me. I felt my life was worthwhile,” he says. “It was so difficult for me tion within a health system geared to older patients. “All the young adult cancer survivors I’ve met say and I was mad at God for putting me through it. I was mad at the injustice.” It’s never fair and nobody expects cancer. But the odds of Lang having cancer were isolation is one of the biggest things,” says Lang. He low. He was the picture of health and youthful vitality. Ironically, that’s one of the barri- recalls sitting in the waiting room at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre in Calgary ers to earlier detection among young people. Lang’s age, health and overall strength were factors that meant “A delayed diagnosis is one of the awaiting chemotherapy treatment. His sense of neither he nor his doctors considered him particularly biggest issues for young adults isolation grew when he vulnerable to the disease. “A delayed diagnosis is one of the biggest issues for with cancer. It’s not supposed to looked at the faces surrounding him. “I was the young adults with cancer,” says Lang. “It’s not supposed happen to people my age.” only young person in to happen to people my age.” that waiting room; everyBonnie Lang, Mike’s wife and a professional personal trainer, agrees. “Cancer is more expected when you’re older. Doctors check it out faster, one else was at least 30 years older than me. You feel like and survivors have the thought of it at the back of their brains,” she says. “When you’re you’re the only person your age to ever get cancer.” Despite this, very little support, resources or research younger, it’s just not what you expect to hear.” However, according to Young Adult Cancer Canada, nearly 7,000 people between 15 funds are invested in this specific demographic. In fact, and 39 are diagnosed with cancer every year. While survivorship rates for paediatric less than 0.1% of all research spending in Canada in 2006 patients and adults over 40 years old are steadily improving, rates for young adults with was targeted at young adults with cancer. The first few months after diagnosis were dark and cancer have not changed since the mid-1970s. Anyone living with cancer faces difficulties both physical and mental, but there are painful times for Lang. “I was in an angry place.” Aside certain concerns that are unique to younger people. “Financial issues are big. At this age from the emotional trauma, the physical pain was you are unstable. There are student loans. Car loans. Maybe a mortgage. We were lucky extremely difficult to bear. “Chemo drugs are really hard. the chemo was covered, but the nausea meds were $30 per pill,” Lang says. “It’s not ideal One drug in particular was like fire in your veins. It took to be married for five months and move back in with the parents. But I didn’t qualify for almost two hours each time to drip into my veins. EI, so without them, we would have been homeless.” He says there are the issues of peer Toe-clenching pain.” 28

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Although he lost most of his hair (except, oddly, for his water, hike, star-gaze, laugh, cry and dance. The group shares intimate moments of fear, beard) and felt off-balance all the time, Lang tried to revelation, courage and compassion; their bravery is truly inspirational. Most particiignore the disease. He refused to accept what was going pants had never even been in a kayak, let alone navigated rapids. Everyone, obviously, on inside his body, and simply grew more and more bitter. had health concerns. And they were all virtually strangers when they set out. He could see what was happening to him and felt help“An adventure like this helps to build bonds quickly, quicker than if you’re sitting less, but he knew he didn’t want cancer to define his life. around in a room sharing your feelings. By the second day, people were sharing stories “My wife Bonnie and I were sort of pretending it wasn’t they hadn’t even shared with their own families,” Lang says. “You’re able to get to those happening, and using that as a coping mechanism,” says deep levels of sharing that are needed for healing.” Lang. “But it wasn’t working.” As the driving force, Lang was worEventually, he realized that ried that participants might not be “To me, this film is about redemption. the cancer may not kill him strong enough to handle the river. It has brought abundant good out of a physically, but it might do so “It was a risk,” he says. “But now that painful journey that almost destroyed me. we’ve done a few of them, (his third emotionally and spiritually. That’s when they “started to guided trip set out in June) we know Now, everywhere I turn, I can’t help but talk about how we could that survivors are strong. For the past see meaning and purpose.” engage with it instead of closnumber of years, their world has ing our eyes to it.” shrunk down to this little bubble. We One day, after a brutal few hours of chemotherapy let people burst the bubbles.” spent attached to an IV at Calgary’s Tom Baker Cancer Lang’s film, The Wrong Way to Hope, introduces viewers to Laurie Hinsperger from Centre, Lang was preparing to face the rest of his day. On Ottawa, who was diagnosed with colon cancer at 28 (after first being misdiagnosed with his way out of the hospital, he noticed a poster lying on mononucleosis.) Aside from the sudden fear of her own mortality, Laurie was faced the floor. It had fallen off a wall, and required a Herculean with financial challenges (her student loans), dietary challenges and social isolation. effort simply to bend down and pick it up. The poster Another participant, Winnipeg’s Cheryl Roby, was diagnosed with cervical cancer advertised a retreat sponsored by Young Adult Cancer just before her 30th birthday. Her greatest fear was not being around to see her thenCanada. Lang had never heard of the organization, but a voice inside him told him he must attend. He and his wife packed their bags and headed to Lake Louise where they encountered and immediately bonded with other young adults with cancer. Right away, he saw how powerful it was to be with other young adult cancer survivors, to connect, and to share stories. Lang knew it was community and connections that would help him heal. “When you meet other people your age who have cancer and who really understand what you’re dealing with, it’s very powerful.” At the Lake Louise retreat, Lang had an epiphany. He decided to use his skills and experience as an adventure guide and find purpose to his suffering. He put the word out, and found seven other young adult cancer survivors from across Canada who wanted to take on a new challenge, something he called “adventure therapy.” The idea was to gather other young adult cancer survivors together for a journey of a lifetime: an eight-day trip down Oregon’s Owyhee River, a waterway that winds through the third deepest canyon in North America. The goal was to raise awareness of specific issues and challenges of young adults facing cancer. Lang had some buddies with a small film company, Hands On Films, and they jumped on board to document the experience. So, after six months of chemotherapy and 60 days of radiation treatment, Mike devoted himself to another challenge: he poured his energy into the planning, promotion and financing of the project he called The Wrong Way to Hope. (Arrange a screening or buy the DVD at wrongwaytohope.com.) SHARE THE ADVENTURE: Mike Lang and wife The result is a deeply moving film that follows the parBonnie are a couple whose relationship grew rather than deteriorated after his diagnosis. ticipants as they navigate class-three rapids in single-passenger kayaks, jump off towering cliffs into cool canyon
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Cancer: YOUNG ADULTS OVERCOME

RIGHT WAY: Lang’s adventure therapy groups bond in a way they wouldn’t in group therapy.

five-month-old daughter grow up. She says her river trip served as a metaphor for her life and her cancer journey. “It taught me that, in my path through life, I may not always be able to see what dangers may lurk around the corner,” she says. “But I am strong, capable, and surrounded by good friends who will pull me to shore when the river of life threatens to overwhelm me.” Alston Adams, from Montreal, was diagnosed with esophageal cancer at age 32 just after landing his dream job. In the film, he jumps off a cliff into a river after repeated hesitation. He faces a fear of heights, but we know he’s already overcome worse than most of us can imagine. Sadly, Adams died last year from cancer. The film immortalizes his friendly spirit, optimistic attitude and courage. Viewers are hit with the glaring reality that one in seven young adults who are diagnosed with cancer will die from the disease. Mike and Bonnie are currently driving across Canada in an RV, showing the film to oncologists, psycho-social and other allied health-care practitioners, cancer patients (and former ones) and their support networks. Many others are simply film-lovers keen to watch a great story of strength and adventure. But Lang says that when friends and family members see the movie they often ask the cancer patient or former patient in their lives: “Did you go through all that emotional stuff?” And the survivors answer, “Yes, but I didn’t know how to tell you.” The film changes both the patients’ and their friends’ and families’ experiences of cancer. The Langs have met countless cancer survivors and their partners, and they have seen the devastating effects the disease can have on young relationships. Bonnie says that many couples going through cancer don’t stay 30

together. However, those couples whose relationships do make it through can have deeper bonds than ever. “Our mariage has been 100 per cent strengthened,” says the effervescent blonde woman. “We’ve grown so much, as individuals and as a couple. We communicate even better than before. We have a new perspective.” Mike Lang’s hair is back and so is his athletic form. Looking at the pair of them, you’d almost think nothing bad had ever happened to them. They could have simply curled up together and got on with their lives now that Lang is in remission. Instead, the disease has changed the course of their lives. “To me, this film is about redemption. It has brought abundant good out of a painful journey that almost destroyed me,” Lang says. “Now, everywhere I turn, I can’t help but see meaning and purpose.” The experience has turned Lang into Edmonton Filmmaker Joe Viszmeg not just a young adult who famously likened his own journey with made it through cancer, but cancer to “a monster truck rally, with also documentary filmmaka six-pack of beer beside me.” For the er, fundraiser, public-speakperspective of a young Edmonton father er, promoter and inspirafacing his own mortality, check out the late tion. On his website and in Viszmeg’s award-winning docs about his his presentation, Lang likes experience with cancer. to quote Dr. Rachel Naomi In My Own Time: Diary of a Cancer Patient, Remen, an American sperecounts his diagnosis with adrenal cancer cialist in the mind/body in 1991 and the impact it has on his life with health field: “Facts bring us his young family. His account of living for years with this disease, My Healing Journey: to knowledge, but stories Seven Years with Cancer, was released lead to wisdom.” shortly before his death in 1999. “Stuff happens to you, To watch or buy these remarkable films, you know, that you can’t visit The National Film Board of Canada’s control,” he says in website (www.nfb.ca) and search “Viszmeg.” the film. “But you can choose where you go from there.

WATCH IT

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GEARED UP
BY CAILYNN KLINGBEIL

Calgary-based energy company Enbridge supports the ride of a lifetime, in addition to funding a research chair
When Vern Yu’s good friend asked him to participate in 2009’s Ride to Conquer Cancer, benefiting the Alberta Cancer Foundation, Yu quickly agreed. “I thought I’d get involved to help him out,” says Yu, Vice President of business development and asset management at Calgary-based energy company Enbridge. The next year when Yu asked his coworkers at Enbridge to join him on the ride of a lifetime, they were equally eager to get involved in the two-day cycling adventure. Seventy Enbridge employees participated in the ride. Equally significant, the company stepped up to the plate, backing them with corporate dollars, becoming the title sponsor of the event. The 2010 Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer had thousands of participants cycling from Calgary to the Rocky Mountains and back over two days, raising a total of $7.3 million for the Alberta Cancer Foundation. “It was very rewarding that I was able to get the company I work for involved,” says Yu. “We were able to increase participation in the overall event and increase the amount of money raised for cancer research.” This year, Yu and the team at Enbridge are stepping up their commitment. Enbridge is the national sponsor of the Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer across Canada, with events taking place in Alberta, B.C., Quebec and Ontario in June and July. So far, 213 Enbridge employees and their families are participating in this year’s event, which takes place June 25-26 in Alberta. The Enbridge team has already raised nearly half a million dollars – and there’s still two months of fundraising before the event. “At Enbridge, we feel that health and research are critical for the betterment of everyone,” says Yu. “We didn’t previously have a primary charity; we had donated to many charities. There was an opportunity to take a lead role in this particular event so we jumped on it.” Enbridge’s support of the Alberta Cancer Foundation extends beyond the annual ride. The company has funded a research chair in psychosocial oncology at the University of Calgary since 2006. “Enbridge is proud of its long history with the Alberta Cancer Foundation,” says Dan O’Grady, national manger of community partnerships and investment.

“There was recognition at the company that cancer touches everyone,” says O’Grady of Enbridge’s extensive support. “Cancer touches our customers, our land owners and our employees. We saw this as an opportunity to do something that would have a long-term impact in the areas of research, awareness and education.” The $3-million Enbridge Endowed Research Chair, in partnership with the Alberta Cancer Foundation and the Canadian Cancer Society, provides funding to Dr. Linda E. Carlson. Carlson’s research on understanding and treating the social, psychological, emotional, spiritual and functional aspects of cancer includes looking at alternative treatment, such as yoga and meditation. “We know that there’s still a lot to be uncovered in the whole science of cancer detection,” says O’Grady of supporting such research. “The psychosocial oncology chair takes a holistic approach to support cancer patients, their families and everyone around them.”

For more information about Ride to Conquer Cancer, visit www.conquercancer.ca

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Grab our top tips, a tube of sunscreen and a water bottle – and enjoy some of Alberta’s great seasonal activities
BY CAILYNN KLINGBEIL AND MIFI PURVIS

A

lberta summers are short and sweet, so make the most of your free time this year. One of the best ways to safeguard your physical and mental health is to get out and get active – enjoy life. There is something for everyone and every ability, and certainly no shortage of fun stuff to do around the province. Check out a 10-pack of our favourites. Some are well-known summer jaunts and others are a little more obscure, but you’ll find something here for you.

The main venue of the 1988 Winter Olympics is not just a training centre for elite athletes – the Calgary site is also open to the general public for various recreational activities. On North America’s fastest zipline, riders start at the ski jump tower and soar down the 500-metre course. For those seeking even greater thrills, try the summer bobsleigh ride. Led by a professional driver, bobsleigh riders travel at 100 km/h and reach four G-forces. COST: $60 for zipline, $69 for bobsleigh ride FIND OUT MORE: winsportcanada.ca/cop, 403-247-5452

FIND OLYMPIC FUN:

TOP TIP: The zipline takes you to the top of the ski jump tower. Experience panoramic views of the city skyline and Rocky Mountains, then soar off the jump deck and ride to the base of the hill.

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PICK A PAIL:

July and August in Alberta bring the sweet taste of berries. Head to a U-pick farm and load up. What you can’t eat or bake, you can freeze and lay away. Alberta grows, among other fruit, strawberries, raspberries, saskatoons, currants and cherries. The fruit varies in availability per variety, location and weather. The Alberta Farm Fresh Producers Association has a guide that can help you plan your berry-picking adventure. Some farms also grow U-pick veggies. COST: Variable. It depends on how far you drive, what and how much you pick. FIND OUT MORE: albertafarmfresh.com TOP TIP: Allow plenty of time and be sure to bring a snack, plenty of water, sunscreen and bug spray.

SEE IT BEFORE IT’S GONE:

TOP TIP: Listen to your guide. Hidden crevasses are deadly.

RIDE A SEGWAY:

If you seek fewer thrills and more scenery, Segway Edmonton’s river valley tour is the perfect fit. Participants watch a safety video about the operation of the Segway and complete a training session before climbing on the two-wheeled, self-balancing electric vehicle for an hour and a half tour through the beautiful river valley. COST: $50 and up FIND OUT MORE: segwayedmonton.com,

780-995-7347

The great Columbia Icefield, the remnant of an ancient ice mass, has about half a dozen terminal points, one of its most recognizable is the Athabasca Glacier. The big melt is on, so you might want to see this remarkable ice formation while you can – it’s receding at a rate of nearly three metres a year. Local tour companies provide guided ice walks on the lower half of the glacier. COST: $60 for a three- to four-hour guided walk. FIND OUT MORE:

icewalks.com, 1-800-565-7547
TOP TIP: Segways don’t have engines, brakes or a steering wheel; they move by responding to a person’s centre of gravity and turn with the flick of the rider’s wrist.

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Summer Sizzlers

BE UKRAINIAN:

Hit the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, 50 kilometres east of Edmonton. The award-winning historic site honours the many Ukrainian settlers in Alberta. Step back in time, to the late 1800s and meet some actors portraying real-life Ukrainian pioneers. The village includes Ukrainian churches, a grain elevator, blacksmith shop and a traditional sod hut. Don’t miss the great food. COST: $9, free for children under seven FIND OUT MORE: culture.alberta.ca,

TOP TIP: The village is close to the entrance Elk Island National Park. Start early and make a day of it.

780-662-3640

DO NOT FEED THE DINOSAURS:

The days of the dinosaurs roar to life again at Jurassic Forest, a 40-acre attraction located just outside of Edmonton, in Gibbons. Visitors travel millions of years back in time, as gigantic and realistic robotic dinosaurs roam this prehistoric preserve. Interpretative trails, an outdoor playground and an interactive exhibit hall complete the experience. COST: $14 for adult, $8 for children FIND OUT MORE: jurassicforest.com,

WISH ON A STAR:

Next time you’re driving between Calgary and Edmonton, make a stop in Red Deer to tour Sylvan Star Cheese Ltd., a family-run organization that makes award-winning cheese in the heart of Alberta. COST: $5 per person FIND OUT MORE: sylvanstarcheesefarm.ca, 403-340-1560 TOP TIP: Sylvan Star’s selection of Gouda includes mild, medium, aged and smoked Gouda.

780-470-2446

TOP TIP: Jurassic Forest is set in a natural environment, so bring clothing suitable for the outdoors and good walking shoes. Bring a camera too, as there’s ample opportunity for pictures and videos. 34

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SUPERSIZE IT:

The province has a variety of roadside attractions. Make a stop on your next road trip for a photo with any of these oversized gigantic Alberta wonders. Vegreville’s pysanka, a giant Ukrainian Easter egg, was created to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in 1974. The egg symbolizes the peace and security the RCMP offered the area’s Ukrainian pioneers and their descendants. The world’s largest dinosaur, standing at an impressive 86 feet high, is a well-known Drumheller attraction. Visitors can climb a staircase inside the giant T-rex and admire a view of the badlands from inside the dino’s giant jaw. The world’s largest perogy is located in the village of Glendon, situated in Pyrogy Park just off of Pyrogy Drive. Hungry visitors can also sample various perogies at nearby restaurants. Other oversized Alberta attractions include a lamp in the village of Donalda, Falher’s giant bee, Medicine Hat’s tipi, Taber’s corn stalk and Vulcan’s starship. Put them on your life list. COST: Gas to get you there, free to look

SEE THE BUFFALO JUMP:

Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump is the largest, oldest and best preserved of all bison jumps in the world. At the site, which was used by Aboriginal peoples of the plains for more than 5,000 years, the hunting technique was to chase bison over a steep cliff. Today, an interpretive centre guides visitors through the ecology, mythology, lifestyle and technology of those early peoples. The jump was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1981 and is located 18 kilometres north and west of Fort MacLeod. COST: $10 for adult, $22 for a family FIND OUT MORE: head-smashed-in.com,

GET BRAIN FREEZE:

403-553-2731
TOP TIP: Five of Canada’s 13 UNESCO World Heritage Sites are located in Alberta.

Make a point to stop at MacKay’s in Cochrane this summer for some shop-made ice cream. COST: $6.50 for a double RECOMMENDED: A double cone, one scoop of black cherry and one of mango iced cream.

SUMMER LOVIN’
Visit us online at myleapmagazine.ca to share some of your favourite ideas for summer fun!

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Research Rockstar

To

Teach
BY ANNALISE KLINGBEIL

HisOWN
/ PHOTOS BY 3TEN PHOTOGRAPHY
“We bring in an actor, they put makeup on her to make her look pale and she says ‘Hi my name is Mrs. Jones and I’m really tired all the time,’” says 41-year-old North, an associate professor of oncology at the University of Alberta and medical oncologist at Edmonton’s Cross Cancer Institute. At the conclusion of the four-week course, Loewen had learned an incredible amount, thanks to the guests that North often brought to class.“We learn throughout medical school but his course was definitely the most memorable,” says Loewen. North teaches his students lessons a textbook simply can’t by making use of actors and guest speakers and engaging students in practice
alber tacancer foundation.ca

Forget textbooks, slideshows and rote memorization, students in Dr. Scott North’s spring oncology class learn by doing

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here was nothing stand-out about the University of Alberta lecture hall that Shaun Loewen found himself in seven years ago. One of nearly 160 second-year medical students, Loewen watched as Dr. Scott North – slight, bespectacled and younger than Loewen expected – entered the room. He’d be leading the oncology class for the next four weeks. Typically dressed in a collared shirt and khakis, no lab coat or tie, North would occasionally lead students through PowerPoint presentations, sans notes. His lectures were concise and informative, so much so that one of Loewen’s colleagues still uses notes from North’s oncology class today. But it was the times when North wasn’t standing in front of the classroom that Loewen remembers the best. In other medical school courses students may receive a piece of paper explaining a situation they must solve. For example, 50-year-old Mrs. Jones is complaining of feeling tired and fatigued and her husband says she looks pale. North’s class is different.

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situations. “If they realize once the patient leaves ‘Oh, we forgot to ask this question’, then they’ll never forget to ask this question again,” says North. Actors allow students to practice a variety of skills including giving bad news to a patient in a tactful and respectful way, time management and learning to work while being observed. North’s teaching philosophy is one of enabling students to learn – setting up the optimal conditions – and it’s a philosophy that recently landed him a prestigious 3M National Teaching Fellowship award, Canada’s top award for university professors, in March. “It’s not about teaching so much as it is about learning,” says North. “Learning is an active thing that the individual has to do. I consider myself a facilitator, not necessarily the person who’s going to stand up there and say, ‘I need you to memorize these 10 things.’” The oncology course also includes psycho-social teaching. For example, following a breast cancer lecture, North will talk about body image and how a woman’s sense of herself may be negatively impacted by a mastectomy. “The problem with traditional medical curriculum,” says North, “is it’s very heavy on the science and less on the art of medicine.”
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North began instructing as a resident in 1997, under a program director who advocated to his residents the importance of teaching. North was inspired to get his master’s degree in health professions education and, in April 2002, he took over the spring oncology course, which introduces second-year medical students to the field of cancer care. “You have to remember when you’re teaching in any area, but specifically in medicine, that there is no way that you can teach the learner everything that they need to know about a subject,” says North. He strives to teach students the fundamentals and necessary tools to understand the principles behind a concept. “You don’t teach somebody to memorize what kind of chemotherapy to give to treat breast cancer, rather you teach them about principles of staging and the type of cancer and the patient factors and then they can use that information to constantly update themselves about what’s going on in the field.” North’s passion for the field of oncology was spurred by a simple comment that he would be good at the job in his 1996 exit interview, during his first clinical rotation as a secondyear oncology resident at Edmonton’s Cross Cancer Institute. “Whether or not you’re a physician, an engineer or you dig ditches for a living, if somebody tells you you’d be good at this job, that matters so much more than whether or not you think you’d be good at the job,” says North. “You don’t really know what the job is, they do.” The cancer care advocate is motivated by a desire to improve the patient experience. “I want the providers who are graduating with medical training nowadays to be comfortable dealing with cancer patients,” says North. He’s been teaching the oncology course for almost a decade and says of a typical class of 160 students, perhaps only three will become cancer specialists in medical or radiation oncology, but more than 60 will become family doctors. “Part of my passion for (teaching) is knowing that I’ve got a good group of colleagues out there, who are going to take good care of patients when I can’t do all that work myself,” says North. North estimates that in Alberta there are more than 100,000 people who have or have had cancer and only 100 physicians who are radiation and medical oncologists. This disparity means all doctors must be comfortable dealing with cancer. It’s an idea that is echoed by Sandy Moser, a retired nurse, who has acted in North’s oncology class for several years. “Everybody who goes through his class, if they listen to him carefully, they’re going to be able to deal with oncology whether they go into the field or not,” says Moser. Moser, who has seen her share of instructors while acting in medical school courses at the University of Alberta, was

North finds ways to teach his students lessons a textbook simply can’t.

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Research Rockstar

ABREAST OF CHANGE
Some women dread breast examinations, but not Sandy Moser. The retired nurse works as a standardized patient in Dr. Scott North’s oncology class, helping to teach second-year medical students how to give a patient a breast examination. “You have to be an old broad who doesn’t get embarrassed anymore to go ahead and let the students learn how to do a proper breast exam on you,” says Moser. Moser has worked as a standardized patient in University of Alberta classes for more than a decade. A standardized patient is a person who has been trained to realistically reproduce the history, physical findings and personality of an actual patient for the benefit of students. In Dr. North’s oncology class she also acts as a patient who has cancer and is about to receive very bad news from her doctors. Moser is typically put in a room alongside an examiner, students then come into the room one at a time to give the bad news and Moser must show shock, grief, dismay and whatever other emotions feel natural. “Amazingly, I find I can burst into tears 20 times in a row,” says Moser. While Moser says the exercise is difficult for all involved, she sees it as essential in preparing students to tell patients similar news, in a kind and caring matter, once they leave the classroom. Helping students learn, by acting as a standardized patient, is important to Moser. “When I graduated (from nursing) in 1963, we had no such thing. We had a plastic dummy that we could practice on,” says Moser. “I would have loved to had standardized patients to try out my skills on, before I actually got into the general population. I think it’s one of the most ingenious ideas yet.”

thrilled to hear North had won the 3M Fellowship. “Dr. North almost can’t be equalled,” says Moser. “You get to my age and you’ve seen a lot of instructors. He’s got to be the top of the heap. He’s got this magical ability to be kind to everyone, which is difficult. He’s exceedingly kind to the students, very kind to us actors and incredibly kind to the examiners. He has one mode and that is kindness.” Former student Loewen says North’s memorable course inspired him to pursue oncology. “You could just tell he really loved what he was doing,” says Loewen, who is finishing his final year of residency in radiation oncology at the Cross Cancer Institute. “He’s a great teacher and he’s really a visionary.” Loewen says working with patients who have a terminal diagnosis can be a daunting concept for medical students to embrace, and one that North was able to make less intimidating by including actors and guest speakers in his classes. North says there’s a huge sense of satisfaction when he sees students understand something they previously struggled with. “If you do a good job teaching somebody, they’re going to go out and teach the next person. You’re helping to keep the ball rolling and to keep everybody globally educated.” And while students such as Loewen have chosen to pursue oncology, hundreds of others who have not specialized in the field of cancer have learned to be comfortable working with cancer patients. “I want (students) to look at oncology as a specialty that maybe they would consider,” says North. “But, even if they don’t want to consider it, at least I want them to walk away from the course feeling a little bit more confident, that they can deal with people who’ve got cancer.” 38

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the

Patient
BY CAITLIN CRAWSHAW

WHOLE
Can identifying and treating depression improve the quality or lengthen the life of patients with metastatic cancer?

Treat

B
Alber ta’s cancer-free movement

y the age of 24, Janine Giese-Davis had lost her father, uncle and husband to cancer and, over the years, she’d known many other people with cancer. Now a self-described “researcher and patient advocate,” these tragic experiences led her to pursue psychological research as a means of helping cancer patients and survivors.

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Treat the Whole Patient

“I’d been on many sides of people living and dying with cancer, and I felt that if I turned my career in that direction, I wouldn’t just be a researcher – I’d be someone who intimately knew the family standpoint and what might matter to regular people,” she says. She became a researcher and clinician at Stanford University’s Psychiatry Department and worked with many women

What Giese-Davis found in her research was interesting – and relevant to patients: Could treating depression help a person with cancer live longer?

with breast cancer in group and individual therapy. Now an associate professor in the Department of Oncology, Division of Psychosocial Oncology, at the University of Calgary, Giese-Davis found growing evidence that depression might negatively impact survival with cancer. She wanted to find out more. A cancer diagnosis can trigger a depressive episode. It’s the start of an emotional journey that closely parallels the stages of grief. It begins with shock and disbelief, and gradually moves towards reconciliation with mortality and a greater sense of oneself. But how each person responds to the diagnosis can vary. “Many people go on to live happier lives than they did before,” says Giese-Davis. Others, however, find themselves mired in depression, especially without the sup-

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port of a counsellor, group therapy or an understanding family. And depression isn’t just unhealthy for the mind – it’s bad for the body, too. In a past-literature review, Giese-Davis and a colleague found that chronic or severe depression predicted early death in cancer patients; other studies confirm this. Knowing that depression and death from cancer are correlated isn’t particularly helpful to clinicians or patients. What Giese-Davis found much more interesting – and relevant to patients – was the question of whether treating depression could help a person with cancer live longer. This was the impetus for a recently published study she co-authored with Dr. David Spiegel, a well-known Stanford University psychiatrist, and a number of other clinicians, including Edmonton’s Dr. Kate Collie. The study followed 125 women with metastatic breast cancer living in the San Francisco Bay area. These women participated in group therapy. Their study, published in the February 2011 issue of The Journal of Clinical Oncology, tracked the women for 14 years and found that decreasing their depression symptoms during the first year was associated with longer survival rates. While the study had a limited scope (breast cancer patients) and focused only on one intervention (group therapy), it’s good news for all cancer patients. Depression is an illness with a wide range of treatments, says Giese-Davis. “People can do many things to recover from depression, from taking anti-depressants, receiving support from friends and family, seeking therapy, going to church, exercising,” she says. “A lot of treatments are effective in decreasing depression levels.” This study found that it didn’t matter what patients did to reduce their depression, only that they reduced it over the first year from diagnosis. This study is positive news for patients and their families, but isn’t license for loved ones or doctors to nag them to look on the bright side, Giese-Davis warns. “The frustrating thing for many patients is that they feel really afraid, angry and sad at first, and everyone around them is trying to get them to think positively. Usually it drives them deeper into their depression,” she says. “We don’t think you need to think positively, but if you are depressed, you need to seek help to resolve the depression.” It’s only recently that the importance of the mental health care of cancer patients has come to the fore. Often,

depression was considered par for the course, but today it is common for Canadian doctors to screen patients for signs of distress, says Giese-Davis, and many oncologists refer their patients to psychological services. But some still prefer to stick to medical issues, she says, maybe because they feel it’s outside of their area of expertise. However, for patients who aren’t inclined to seek treatment on their own, this can mean they’re not treated at all. “I think there are many more people who could benefit from some sort of therapy or support than seek it out,” says Giese-Davis. Study co-author Collie hopes that this study will motivate more doctors to be on the lookout for signs of mental illness. “I want oncologists to be more sensitive to this,” she says, “and aware that treating or not treating depression could be a life-and-death matter.” She thinks that this study, and others that demonstrate health outcomes associated with treating depression, will encourage medical professionals to be on the lookout for signs of depression. Putting mental health into the medical context “makes it a broader picture” – and perhaps something doctors can better relate to. “So, people who generally think about the physiological dimensions of cancer can be thinking about this too,” says Collie. Collie points out that mental health care for cancer patients will also become a greater priority as more people are surviving cancer and the “culture” of care evolves.

Putting mental health into the medical context makes it something doctors can better relate to.
“Cancer is now seen more as a chronic disease. That changes everything: it changes the amount of money being put into cancer research and research topics” Collie says. Assessing and, where necessary, treating patients for signs of depression may become another tool to help manage the disease and improve its outcomes. Find out more! Giese-Davis’ study can be found in the Feb. 1, 2011, issue of The Journal of Oncology (Volume 29, Number 4). jco.ascopubs.org

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Top Job

Lisa Belanger is part motivator, part friend, part personal trainer and all cancer researcher

BY DEBBIE OLSEN / PHOTOS BY KELLY REDINGER

I

t is Thursday morning and the fitness facility where Lisa Belanger works is humming with activity. Two women are vigorously working out in the aerobic area of the gym – one on a treadmill and the other on an elliptical trainer. While a trainer monitors progress in their exercise regimen, the pair is busy socializing. When Deborah Amero walks in, Belanger’s face lights up and the two women begin discussing the latest events in their lives as Amero puts on her gym shoes and straps on a heart monitor. Before long, Belanger has gathered Amero’s exercise plan and is busy encouraging her as she goes through her fitness program, which begins with interval training on a treadmill and ends with resistance training in the facility’s weight room. On the surface, this fitness centre seems like an ordinary athletic club, but it is actually a research facility where cancer researchers analyze the effects of exercise on cancer patients both during treatment and following it. Lisa Belanger is a certified trainer, but she

is also a student working on a PhD in Physical Education and Recreation at the University of Alberta. In this gym, she is a cancer researcher. “Studies have shown that physical activity improves health-related quality of life, both in individuals undergoing cancer treatment and those who’ve completed it,” explains Belanger. “Some of the best research is taking place right here in Alberta. It’s on the correlation between physical activity and cancer prevention, improvement in treatment, and longterm improvement in quality of life and maintenance of disease-free status.” At the gym, people are coming and going. Belanger explains that, at this time, there are two research projects going on in the facility; both being led by Dr. Kerry S. Courneya. As a PhD student, Belanger spends at least 12 hours each week in the gym working closely with project participants. One project involves people such as Deborah Amero who have recently undergone treatment for colorectal cancer. At the recommendation of an oncologist,

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SUPPORT TEAM: Lisa Belanger is a cancer researcher who knows the importance of supporting her clients.

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Top Job
those who’ve completed chemotherapy and radiation ment in a group of breast cancer patients. Participants commit to work out in the facility treatment and are declared cancer-free are followed for three times per week while undergoing treatment. Researchers like Belanger set up indithree years to determine the effects of exercise on dis- vidual programs and monitor the effects of the physical activity. Early results of the ease-free survivorship. Physical activity has been linked research indicate that exercise is helping participants cope better with chemotherapy to cancer prevention and researchers believe that those and they are experiencing fewer delays and setbacks in their treatment. “I was feeling so ill last week after my chemo treatment and I tried everything I could who develop active lifestyles will remain free of disease longer. To ensure the accuracy of the results, almost 1,000 think of to overcome the symptoms – from hot baths to ginger-ale,” says Janis Clegg, a young mother of two who is participeople will be participating in a coordipating in the program. “I had comnated program through more than 17 “The side-effects of chemotherapy mitted to go to the gym three times cancer centres in Canada and Australia. treatment are very hard to handle at per week, so I dragged myself in here. After three years of close monitoring and times,” says patient Janis Clegg, “but I was surprised when I discovered mentorship in the gym, researchers will follow participants for 10 years. exercise is helping me tolerate it better.” that after I got on the treadmill I started feeling better. The side-effects of Being a participant means coming to chemotherapy treatment are very the gym at least once a week and working with Belanger as a fitness coach. It’s a big commitment, hard to handle at times, but exercise is helping me tolerate it better.” When Belanger is not in the gym coaching participants, writing exercise plans, and but Amero sees it as a great opportunity. “When I was going through chemo, I didn’t want to do anything,” analysing data, she spends her time working on her graduate project – a study on the Amero says. “I thought this would be a good way to get effects of exercise on the quality of life of young adult cancer survivors. As part of her back my muscle tone, but it’s done so much more. I have a thesis project, she is creating an exercise guidebook for young adult cancer survivors and lot more energy since I started exercising. It’s great to will be following up by analyzing the effects of this guidebook in motivating young adults have access to this kind of support. By the end of the three to stay active. “I love my job,” she says. “This research is so important, because it deals with ways to years, I’m going to be very fit.” The second project taking place in the facility is analyz- improve quality of life for people who have had cancer. It’s not enough just to survive the ing the effects of exercise during chemotherapy treat- disease – I want to make people’s lives better.”

PERSONAL TOUCH: Program participants benefit from Belanger’s mentorship as much as her expertise.

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WHEEL LIFE
Gentlemen, don’t start your engines. Instead, get reacquainted with the thrill of the bike commute. It’s easier than you think.
BY CAIT WILLS

S

ometimes you can’t win for trying. Layne Mitchell, who has been riding to and from work for the last three years as a means to keep fit and save money, came face-to-face with a cyclist’s worst nightmare when a vehicle turning into a parking lot didn’t see him and hit him square on. “I was mowed over!” he jokes, but vehicle-bicycle collisions are no laughing matter. In fact, fear of being hit is one of the biggest deterrents to people who are interested in riding but are unsure of where to start. But Sean Carter, owner of BikeBike, “Calgary’s everyday bike store,” says hitting the road isn’t as difficult as you may think, and it sure as heck shouldn’t be intimidating. “Many of our customers concentrate on commuting,” says the ex-racer who has been “car-free” for the last 18 months. He uses a bicycle for everything from getting his son to school and soccer to picking up groceries. “All it takes is planning,” which he says is the key to successful urban riding, be it to work or as a leisurely ride. Mitchell, an Edmonton radio show personality, agrees. Because of his afternoon drive-home-show air time, his commute falls outside the rush hour. But, he says, that doesn’t mean traffic isn’t a concern. “My route can be a nightmare,” he says, explaining how his daily 40-kilometre round-trip route includes about eight kilometres of bike path, but also requires several blocks of navigating six lanes of traffic on one of Alberta’s busiest streets: Edmonton’s Gateway Boulevard.

GREAT ROUTE NO. 1: THE RIVER VALLEY ROUTE, EDMONTON • Crossing the North Saskatchewan River six times, it’s a 28kilometre-long trek • Route includes 10 municipal parks, the Muttart Conservatory, the High Level Bridge, Alberta Legislature, University of Alberta, Fort Edmonton Park, Rundle Park, the Valley Zoo and the Whitemud Nature Reserve

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“I try to avoid it at all costs,” he says but, because of the location of his job “in • A level, 10 kilometreEdmonton’s majestic long path that follows a semi-natural park near used hubcap district,” downtown Leduc there are some streets • Winds from the that don’t even have Edmonton International Airport to the west border sidewalks, never mind of Leduc bike paths or lanes. Despite the challenges of getting to and from work safely and enjoyably. Mitchell has done the right thing when it comes to assessing his needs. And while Mitchell is not a new rider, his experience demonstrates that planning is everything, for all levels of rider, says Carter. “When you’re new to riding, it’s extremely important to test your route before you start; that’s one of the things that will help determine what equipment and level of comfort you need,” he says. “Treat it as a fun ride and you’ll avoid any nasty surprises.” Another way to address concerns GREAT ROUTE NO. 3: THE WASKASOO PARK about getting to and TRAIL SYSTEM, RED DEER from wherever you’re going is to consider • An all-asphalt 29some professional kilometre-long route, passing Discovery Canyon help—professional and McKenzie Ponds bicycling help, that is. • The Lion’s Campground The Alberta Bicycle is on the route, making it the perfect weekend jaunt Association has two programs the ordinary rider can take advantage of. Can-Bike I is a course for inexperienced cyclists or those who haven’t ridden recently. Some of the aspects of the program include learning how to signal, stop, shoulder check and ride in a straight line. Students also learn to check their bikes prior to riding, route planning, obstacle avoidance, lane changes and other commuting techniques. Can-Bike II is geared towards increasing a cyclist’s confidence through building on the skill sets established in the first class, and includes emergency stops and turns, rockdodging and lane positioning. The association also offers a weekend program for youth, where children learn how to signal, to stop, to shoulder check, and to ride in a straight line. The whole family can benefit. So you know where you want to go, but how do you get there? In comfort, says Carter. That’s key. “For the new rider, or someone who is interested in comGREAT ROUTE NO. 2: TELFORD LAKE, LEDUC

muting, I recommend that the bike is comfortable and fulfils the specific needs of that rider. Some of the factors to consider when choosing a bike include the distance you’ll be travelling and whether, for instance, you want to wear business clothes to work.” Those types of decisions, he says, will play into whether you will need a pannier and a rack on the bike (for the office attire to stay crisp and fresh en route), a backpack or just a basket to hold your lunch. While a helmet isn’t legally required for those over 18 in the province, St. Albert has a bylaw that extends the requirement to cyclists of all ages. And research has shown that wearing a helmet decreases the risk of brain injury in case of a colli-

GREAT ROUTE NO. 4: THE TRANSCANADA TRAIL, CALGARY • A 67-kilometre trek through downtown Calgary along the Bow River • Direct access to the downtown core’s hotels and the Hi-Calgary City Centre hostel • Passes the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary, Weaselhead Natural Environment Park, Fish Creek Provincial Park, Fort Calgary, Heritage Park • Other attractions on the route: Calgary Zoo, Canada Olympic Park, Calgary Stampede, Glenbow Museum

CYCLE THE WEB
albertabicycle.ab.ca The Alberta Bicycle Association offers the Can-Bike programs as well as events throughout the province, club memberships and news you can use. bikecalgary.org “BikeCalgary.org exists to inform, educate and inspire cyclists in Calgary. On this site you’ll find information on good and bad routes for cycle commuting, and forums for discussing those routes. There’s also information on bike advocacy initiatives both in Calgary and elsewhere. And we’ll try to provide information for the beginning commuter, or would-be cycle commuter, such as a list of bike buddies you can call upon.” bikely.com This site allows the user to search out urban and rural routes around the province based on location and distance. The best part? Users often leave tidbits (“Don’t forget to stop in Turner Valley for the best burger in Alberta at the Chuckwagon restaurant”), which can go a long way to helping you choose where to ride. City sites (edmonton.ca and calgary.ca) have bike maps available on their site; just type in “bike map” to access the maps and related information.

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For more information on cycling in Alberta, visit: edmontonbikes.ca bikecalgary.org canada.travelall.com/ab/act/ hik_cycl.htm

sion or fall. There may be other bylaw criteria GREAT ROUTE NO. 5: in your municipality, so check before hitting THE BANFF LEGACY the road, Carter advises. TRAIL, BANFF The most important thing, says Carter, is the vehicle; the method of transportation is • The 26-kilometre route runs from the Bow crucial. “The most critical piece of equipValley Parkway to the ment when deciding to ride is the bike. east gates of Banff National Park Picture this scenario: you decide you want to • When completed, it will start riding after a long time. You have a 15be part of the Trans year-old mountain bike you haul out of the Canada Trail, the world’s garage and want to use. The bike will need to longest recreational trail at 21,500 kilometres, be serviced and probably won’t fit that well, linking close to 1,000 and it probably won’t be suitable to your communities needs. It’ll suffice, but it’s not the optimal choice. “If you want to ride comfortably, you need a comfortable bike.” Carter recommends a European-style commuter bike with an internal gear system, full fenders and a built-in lock; that way, he says, “you could ride to work in a business suit” without worry about getting dirty. As for Mitchell, he didn’t even let that collision (he wasn’t seriously injured) deter him. He continues to ride seasonally – as soon as the ice is off the road he’s on it – but he’s cautious. “Listen for cars,” he advises. “It’s easy to get sweat, dust or bugs in your eyes. But your ears are the best way to tell you when something’s coming.”

Meet Alberta’s cancer-free movement
Stay current with Alberta’s movement for cancer-free lives.
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STORIES OF GIVING

PRINT PERFECT
The folks at ION Print Solutions knew they could make donations to the Alberta Cancer Foundation go farther – twice as far, actually
BY MIFI PURVIS

This spring saw Peter and Gwen Fargey of ION Print Solutions finally finished treatment in October 2010 and set about on an extended golf holiday in Arizona, and there was no betgaining his strength back. ter time to be away, weather-wise. Thankfully, the plan they That’s why this spring’s golf trip to Arizona was especially had hatched and set in motion with the Alberta Cancer welcome for the couple. Foundation was ticking along quite nicely without them, dou“Peter received wonderful care and attention at the Cross bling the impact of every donation sent to the foundation. Cancer Institute in Edmonton,” says his wife, Gwen. “But Now in its second year, the plan every patient is different and his had its genesis year before last, cancer was rare. If you don’t do the with Peter’s persistent gut ache. It ION launched a matching donation research you don’t know how to seemed to come and go, but it campaign in conjunction with the treat these things.” It seemed natuwasn’t really tied to anything he ral that the pair would want to supAlberta Cancer Foundation. It was port the work of Peter’s oncologist, was eating or doing. “I took Tylenol for it,” says Peter, “but it one of the most successful summer Dr. Michael Sawyer, and other always came back.” He went to the researchers in the field. campaigns to date. doctor and eventually, Peter, then While Peter was being treated, 67, was booked for a gastroscopy, his business partner Craig McEwen a test in which doctors threaded a tiny camera down his throat hit upon the idea of supporting cancer research with a to get a look at what was going on inside. The test revealed a matching donation program. The company planned an open rare duodenal cancer. house to showcase some new equipment in the shop – ION The only treatment available was a surgery called a is a leading printer in the province. Customers, business Whipple, which – in Peter’s case – involved removal of the people and many friends were invited. McEwen and Gwen bile duct, the duodenum and half of his pancreas. A serious piggybacked the fundraiser on the open house and invited infection developed and he had to undergo two more surgerPeter’s oncologist to give a talk about his research. There ies with the eventual removal of the remaining part of his was a silent auction in which ION’s customers and suppliers pancreas and his spleen. When he had recovered sufficiently, donated auction items, and proceeds from the event went to he started 12 months of chemotherapy treatments. the Alberta Cancer Foundation. “At least that’s what I heard Complications, including a serious blood clot, meant that happened,” Peter says with a laugh. He was busy with the doctors had to change his drug regimen a couple of times. He task of dealing with cancer treatment. ION also launched a

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CHEQUE MATES: ION’s Peter Fargey (left) with Daryl Silzer of the Alberta Cancer Foundation and Craig McEwen of ION Print Solutions after last year’s successful matching gift campaign.

matching donation campaign in conjunction with the foundation. Earning more than $350,000, it was one of the most successful summer campaigns to date. So successful that the company is repeating the campaign this year. Long-time business people, the Fargeys and McEwen know the value of investment, and they chose to invest in the Alberta Cancer Foundation. With their sponsorship, donations to the foundation go twice as far. So people or businesses who donate to the fund before July 22 will see their donation matched by ION Print Solutions, up to $50,000. Money raised will go to research, patient care, and prevention and screening programs. Both Peter and Gwen Fargey know how important research is to healthcare professionals when they’re designing treatment plans for each patient. Today, Peter is cancer-free, but the surgery had consequences. “I became an instant diabetic,” he says. “I take insulin shots four times a day – but we’re managing it just fine.” Peter and Gwen are semi-retired, spending winters in Arizona and as much time as they can with their three adult children (and their spouses) and five (soon six) grandchildren. The family business, ION Print Solutions, is serving not just the printing needs but also the health needs of Albertans like Peter who want a cancer-free future. The campaign has been a huge success for the Alberta Cancer Foundation. “It’s very gratifying,” Gwen says, “to have Peter’s name associated with this campaign.”

DOUBLE UP
Visit albertacancer.ca before July 22 to read more about Peter Fargey and make a donation that doubles the impact your money would otherwise make. This program extends the reach of a “regular” donation, meaning that a $20 donation today will see $40 going to the Alberta Cancer Foundation. You’ll feel twice as good about yourself afterwards.

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INSPIRING INDIVIDUALS

BOY IN MOTION: Dyllan Duperron was not able to log the Anthony Henday portion of his run on the dangerous stretch of road, so he ran the equivalent at the Cross Cancer Institute instead.

Highway of Hope

A 16-year-old Alberta boy recently took some steps to raise funds for the Alberta Cancer Foundation – more than a million steps. Dyllan Duperron, a Grade 10 student from Valleyview, ran nearly 1,000 kilometres this spring in a journey that took him by foot from Alberta’s southernmost community cancer centre in Lethbridge to its northernmost one in Grande Prairie. Cancer is a cause that has touched Dyllan’s life on more than one occasion. Family members on both sides have experienced cancer, including both paternal grandparents and an aunt, all of whom recovered. Dyllan’s uncle Romeo died of brain cancer a few years ago. “Dyllan wasn’t able to make it to his funeral and he always felt bad about that, so this was his way of showing that he cared,” explains Dyllan’s mother, Boni Duperron. Dyllan started running in mid-March and, with a two-week break halfway through, made it to his goal at the beginning of May. He hit the road at 9 a.m. each day to run approximately 35 km; Boni drove alongside him, pulling over at times so Dyllan could have a quick lie-down on the back seat or refuel on chocolate milk and Fruit

Roll-Ups. They’d usually finish up at about 3 p.m., checking into a hotel and having dinner before Dyllan caught up on his schoolwork or, if he was lucky, soaked his sore muscles in a hot tub. Other family members and friends were also supportive of his ambitious project. “They think it’s pretty cool,” he says. According to Boni, it’s given the pair some insight into the emotional roller-coaster ride experienced by many people with cancer. “I know it’s not really the same, but with all the obstacles we’ve had to endure trying to get this run going and keep it going,” she says, “we feel a small taste of the ups and downs that cancer patients must go through.” To donate: visit albertacancer.ca – Robin Schroffel

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