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Paying it forward

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Murray Salsman, a cancer survivor and fundraising volunteer from Kings County, Philip Shaheen, an oncology pharmacist from Sydney, and Karen Hoben, a palliative care nurse from Guysborough County, were honoured during Cancer Care Nova Scotia’s (CCNS) Excellence Awards ceremony on November 18, 2015.

The annual Excellence Awards in leadership and patient care are presented to those who help further cancer prevention, treatment and care for Nova Scotia cancer patients and families.

Health and Wellness Minister Leo Glavine presented the awards and spoke of the valuable contribution of all who work and/or volunteer in the cancer system.

“Patients, their families and their caregivers look to Cancer Care Nova Scotia and our health care system for the best levels of care and support available,” said Minister Glavine. “I am honoured to join …in celebrating the exceptional contributions to patient care that the award recipients, the nominees, and their caregivers make every day.”

Bob Russell, Chair of the 2015 Excellence Awards Committee, echoed Minister Glavine’s sentiments. "Today's recipients, and all who work or volunteer in the field of cancer, are ordinary people who do extraordinary things each and every day for cancer patients and families," he said. "On behalf of Cancer Care Nova Scotia, I congratulate our 2015 recipients and extend a sincere thanks to all who help to ease the cancer journey of Nova Scotians."

2016SalsmanAward recipient Murray Salsman, a cancer survivor and then care giver to his wife, Margaret, who died of cancer in 2004, has first-hand knowledge of the challenges of living with and supporting someone who has cancer. In honour of Margaret, and in thanks to the Cancer Patient Navigator at the Valley Regional Hospital who helped his family throughout Margaret’s illness, Murray decided to ‘pay it forward’ and help support cancer patients in his community who were in need.

Murray started Marg’s Glad Garden, in honour of Margaret, an avid gardener, and the Margaret Salsman Cancer Memorial Fund. “Through the sale of the flowers and donations to the Fund, he has and continues to help many patients with expenses such as providing gas money to get to appointments, delivering a tank of oil when money is tight, and covering a month’s rent, said Sandra Cook, former Manager of Patient Navigation, CCNS. “The garden has also become a symbol of community building and an example of how we can all help one another.”

Like Murray, Karen Hoben was presented with an Excellence in Patient Care award2016Hoben for a health professional. Karen was recognized for her vast knowledge of treatments and advances in palliative care and for her caring and compassionate approach in working with patients and their families. With more than 32 years experience as a registered nurse serving small rural communities and hospitals in Canso and Guysborough, Karen has dedicated the last 14 years of her career to serving the needs of palliative care patients and their families. Although she was always interested in cancer and palliative care, her mother’s cancer diagnosis and eventual death from cancer in 1989 made her realize palliative care was her true calling.

In the words of one of her patients, “Karen’s visits became a lifeline to both myself and my husband. She helped improve not only my quality of life, but my family’s too. By providing us with all the right information we needed, we could understand everything that was going on and be happy we knew all we could.”

While not on the front lines of patient care in the same way as Karen, Philip Shaheen, recipient of the 2015 Leadership Excellence Award, plays an important role in ensuring patient and staff safety for those taking, preparing, and/or delivering chemotherapy. An oncology pharmacist at the Cape Breton Cancer Centre (CBCC) in Sydney, Philip was honoured for his leadership in this area.

Valerie Nugent, Program Manager, Medical Oncology, Hematology, Prevention and Screening, CBCC, spoke of Philip’s vision to improve quality and safety of cancer treatment for patients, family and staff, and his ability to move that vision forward. “Philip freely shared his vision, always placing the patient at the centre of all decision making,” she said. “His passion, commitment and ability … to engage others in the process is what sets him apart as a leader.”

2016ShaheenPhilip began his career in community practice, first as a staff pharmacist and then as a manager. Since joining the CBCC in 2010, Philip has worked with Centre staff and others to understand and respond to patients’ medication needs. He led the development of a state-of-the-art facility at the cancer centre for preparing chemotherapy, and he worked with a team of health professionals to develop pre-printed oncology physician orders and a computer program to help calculate chemotherapy doses. The computer program serves as a verification tool for pharmacist preparing the orders. Other career highlights include chairing a Chemotherapy Working Group at the CBCC, charged with developing a small Medical Day Unit, and conducting long-term planning for an expanded chemotherapy treatment area. Mr. Shaheen also shares his expertise on provincial and national committees.

CCNS congratulates Murray Salsman, Karen Hoben, and Philip Shaheen and extends thanks and appreciation to all who work to enhance and improve the cancer system for Nova Scotia patients and families.

Cancer Care Nova Scotia’s annual Excellence Awards were first introduced in 2009 to mark the organization’s 10th anniversary. Since then, CCNS has recognized the contributions of 19 amazing individuals and six talented groups or teams. These individuals and teams were chosen from many worthy nominations and were honoured for leadership, innovation, and excellence in patient care.

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