CANCERCARE Manitoba has launched a new program to tear down cultural barriers that may prevent First Nations, M©tis and Inuit people from receiving prompt treatment for cancer.
The program is the latest phase of the Manitoba government's $40-million Cancer Patient Journey Initiative, established in 2011. It aims to reduce to 60 days or less the time from suspicion of cancer to first treatment.
It will target groups and areas of the province with high cancer rates. New Canadians as well as aboriginal people will benefit from it, Health Minister Theresa Oswald said Wednesday.
"The Manitoba government is committed to ensuring all Manitobans dealing with cancer get the help they need when they need it most," she said.
Cultural and language barriers can delay treatment until it is too late, the minister said.
In some communities, cancer is mistakenly viewed as contagious, causing sufferers to lose the support of loved ones. Others mistakenly believe the disease is "an automatic death sentence," Oswald said.
The First Nations, M©tis and Inuit Cancer Control Program will educate people about the disease and work to ensure prompt treatment for those diagnosed with it. It will be staffed by a director, a patient-access co-ordinator and several health providers. They will travel throughout the province.
Ann Lacquette, a member of the CancerCare Manitoba community partnership committee, said the program will give communities a better understanding of what to expect during cancer testing and treatments.
This should ease "some of the fear and powerlessness family members feel when a loved one is diagnosed with cancer," she said.
-- Larry Kusch