On March 31st, 2008, Halifax was the site of a unique collaboration to discuss women's cancers - the first of its kind in Atlantic Canada. The Atlantic Invitational Think Tank on Women's Cancers brought together 46 health professionals, community agencies, policy makers, volunteers and people affected by women’s cancers to explore strategies to assist people across Atlantic Canada to more easily access services for information and support.
During the Think Tank, greetings were brought from Brigitte Belanger of the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and participants heard presentations by Dr. Margaret Fitch of the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer (CPAC), Dr. Barbara Clow and Erin Hemmens of the Atlantic Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health, Wendy Cyr of the New Brunswick Breast Cancer Information Partnership Inc. and Pat Antonick of CancerCare Manitoba, speaking about the Manitoba Breast and Women’s Cancer Network. An ovarian cancer survivor, Shirley Kelly, spoke about her experiences, and representatives from Atlantic Canada’s four provincial breast cancer networks gave a panel discussion about lessons they have learned from their work. Attendees participated in a number of small group activities designed to stimulate thought and provide feedback on the potential to build on the experience of breast cancer partnerships as well as the types of work that could benefit from collective action across the Atlantic Region.
The Think Tank was a success, and attendees and the planning committee were pleased with the dialogue and networking opportunities. Attendees agreed to further explore the idea of partnering to address women's cancers in the region, and agreed to circulate the meeting report to their organizations, and report back with feedback on their organizations' response.
The Think Tank was the initiative of representatives from breast cancer information partnerships in New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, who have received many inquiries for information and resources from organizations addressing other cancers. These networks see a benefit in sharing the lessons they have learned from their experiences with the breast cancer community. By organizing the Think Tank they have initiated the exploration of the feasibility of partnering with cervical, ovarian, and uterine cancer organizations to provide information and support more broadly to people impacted by women’s cancers.
The Atlantic Invitational Think Tank on Women's Cancers received funding support from the Public Health Agency of Canada, and the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer, and sponsorship from several national and regional organizations: Ovarian Cancer Canada; the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation Atlantic; Cervical Screening Initiatives Newfoundland and Labrador; and Major Brothers Insurance Limited, Halifax. The planning committee believes that by working together, women's cancer groups can share their knowledge with a wider community and maximize resources to benefit Atlantic Canadians.
Event planning and facilitation for the Atlantic Invitational Think Tank on Women's Cancers was provided by The Quaich Inc., a knowledge based company which works with clients across sectors to build healthy and safe communities. The company’s main office is in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. The Think Tank was held at Inn on the Lake in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
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