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2014 Excellence Award Recipients
- Going the extra mile for cancer patients

 Ms. Stasia Digou from South Bar, Cape Breton was one of four individuals recognized for outstanding contributions to the cancer system on November 26th, 2014 during CCNS’s annual Excellence Awards celebration. Ms. Digou, a cancer survivor, received the CCNS Excellence in Patient Care Award for a volunteer. For the past 11 years, she has volunteered at the Cape Breton Cancer Centre and has been instrumental in developing and maintaining several important programs.

“Stasia is highly respected and appreciated,” said Tom McNeil, a Social Worker with the Cape Breton Cancer Centre. “Patients and health care workers listen to what she has to say. Through her vision, passion, perseverance, and hard work, Stasia has played a significant role in improving cancer care in Cape Breton.”

As a cancer survivor, Ms Digou has first-hand knowledge of the kind of supports that patients and families need. She has worked tirelessly over the years to promote the availability and value of peer support, survivorship and patient education programs. She has advocated for the expansion of psycho-social supports and has been instrumental in developing and maintaining programs such as Living with Cancer, Cancer Transitions, Ways to Wellness and Bridging the Gap.

“A diagnosis of cancer brings with it all kinds of worry and uncertainty about such things as: the impact on family, managing pain, possible side effects of treatment, and the ability to continue working,” said Cathy Blades, Cancer Care Nova Scotia board member and chair of the 2014 Excellence Awards committee. “Thankfully, all who answer the call to serve cancer patients and families are dedicated to easing the journey for those impacted by this family of diseases. The Excellence Awards celebration is an opportunity to pause for a moment and acknowledge the nominees, recipients and all who routinely go above and beyond for Nova Scotia cancer patients and families.” aa_2014recipients

In addition to Ms. Digou, Excellence Awards were presented to Ms. Victoria Sullivan, Dr. Mary (Mimi) Davis and Ms. Joanne Cumminger.

Ms. Sullivan, a health administrator from Capital Health, received the Leadership Excellence award. An oncology nurse by background, she has been involved in the cancer system in Nova Scotia since 1988. “Vickie’s passion and dedication to ensuring exemplary care for patients and staff is evident in all she does,” said Paula Bond, Vice President of Acute Care and Person-Centred Health, Capital Health. “She is a true leader who inspires others and has dedicated her life to this work.”

Ms. Sullivan, Director of the Capital Health Cancer Care Program in Halifax since 2002, also worked for 14 years as manager of the Nova Scotia Cancer Centre in Halifax. Her accomplishments include transforming the manner in which cancer services and programs are provided, including clinic reorganizations and introduction of new programs and positions, providing strategic leadership and working with community partners to establish satellite oncology clinics. Her contributions to cancer control include participating in policy development and changes to improve cancer care at the local, provincial and national level.

Both Dr. Mary (Mimi) Davis, a medical oncologist (retired April 2014) with the Capital Health Cancer Care Program, and Ms. Joanne Cumminger, a Cancer Patient Navigator (retired June 2014) with the Pictou County Health Authority received Excellence in Patient Care Awards for health professionals.

Throughout her career, Dr. Davis was dedicated to providing patient-centred care, working to improve access to cancer services to Nova Scotians outside Halifax, decreasing travel time for patients. Her areas of specialty were head and neck cancers and malignant melanoma. Throughout her career Dr. Davis believed strongly in the importance of providing care as close to a patient’s home as is safely possible.

“Colleagues describe Dr. Davis as a leader in cancer care, with one goal – taking the very best care of patients and families,” said Ms. Pam Robichaud, Nurse Manager for Cancer Program and Wellness, South West Health. “Patients are always first; and she fosters an empathetic, understanding and responsive approach to their unique needs. Support is straight from her heart; passionate and humble; selfless in pursuit of compassionate holistic cancer care for those she has the pleasure of serving.”

Over the last eight years, Dr. Davis traveled to Yarmouth between two and three times each month so that patients who lived in the southwestern corner of the province did not have to travel to Halifax to see a cancer specialist. Her work to include tele-oncology as part of ongoing clinic operations further decreased the need for travel on the part of patients, while strengthening the services available in community hospitals across the province.

“A registered nurse for more than 38 years, Joanne Cumminger has been a strong and warm shoulder for many to lean on,” said Rochelle Currie, Manager of Ambulatory Care and Rehabilitation, Pictou County Health Authority. “She has been a friend and a support to countless individuals and families going through the scary and confounding journey known as cancer.”

Over the 12 years she worked as a Cancer Patient Navigator, Ms. Cumminger improved the cancer patient experience for patients, families and health professionals in Nova Scotia. In this role she has educated, supported and navigated more than 2,500 individual cancer patients and families in the Pictou County Health Authority. She has supported countless family physicians and other community health professionals, providing them with that important link to the formal cancer system; and she supported cancer specialists, providing them with insight into the challenges rural patients often face. As Cancer Patient Navigation expanded across the province, Joanne also helped to mentor and orient new cancer patient navigators.

CCNS congratulates Ms. Sullivan, Dr. Davis, Ms. Digou and Ms. Cumminger 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 16 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.