For patients, cancer is often a frightening and uncertain journey. Alberta Health Services recently began a new
service in Fort McMurray to guide patients through
their cancer journeys.
A cancer patient navigator helps them with their
psychological, physical and emotional needs and
“We help link a patient with resources and services
within the community before, during and after treat-
Nearly 3,000 patients a month will use the new Southern Alberta Institute of Urology at the Rockyview General Hospital in Calgary. Home to
the city’s 14 urologists and the Prostate Cancer Centre,
the institute was funded by a $10-million cornerstone
donation from two prominent Alberta philanthropists,
W. Brett Wilson and the late Daryl (Doc) Seaman.
ment,” says Erin Langner, a cancer patient navigator
and community cancer nurse at the Northern Lights
Regional Health Centre.
Langner says her job begins with “listening to a
patient’s needs and helping find answers to their questions.” She also improves the co-ordination of tests,
treatment and care by talking to, and working with,
other health care professionals on her patients’ behalf.
“As soon as I talked with Erin, I felt how approachable, friendly and helpful she was,” says Glenda Pollard,
a Fort McMurray cancer patient. “She gave me a lot of
information, prepared me for my visit with the oncologist and connected me with resources in town I didn’t
When she met with her oncologist, Pollard says she
knew what treatments she’d be having. “All of the
questions I would have been wondering about were no
surprise when I went there.”
Funding for cancer patient navigation in Fort McMur-
ray is made possible through Syncrude Canada Ltd.
The cancer navigation program is also offered in
Drumheller, Lloydminster and Grande Prairie, and is
expanding to Edmonton and Calgary.
Wilson, best known for his appearances on CBC’s
Dragon’s Den, and Seaman, an oilman and co-owner
of the Calgary Flames NHL hockey team, were both
prostate cancer patients. Each gave $5 million to the
Calgary Health Trust to establish the institute, which
opened in September.
“Although Doc Seaman and I came from different
generations, we shared the same vision for this facility — a centre of excellence with co-ordinated care
for ‘below the belt’ issues — care that wasn’t available
when we both battled prostate cancer,” said Wilson at
the institute’s opening.
The first centre of its kind in Canada, the institute
serves both men and women with a number of conditions, including prostate, bladder and kidney cancer,
kidney stones, urinary tract problems and sexual
dysfunction. It will also be a clinical hub for patient
care and become a focal point for researchers.