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(L-R) Excellence Award recipients: Dr. M.A. Naqvi, Mr. Donald Ferguson, Dr. Gerry Farrell, Ms. Joan Hamilton, Dr. David Barnes, Dr. Mal Rajaraman, Dr. Ali Imran.

Cancer care pioneer - speaking openly about tough issuesUnderstanding illness is never easy, but it can be particularly difficult when you are young and the person who is ill is a parent. Joan Hamilton has been helping families address this challenge for 20 years. She was presented with the inaugural CCNS Pioneer Excellence Award on June 23rd in recognition of her work.

“The vast majority of parents want to talk to their kids about their cancer illness, but many just don’t know how to approach it,” says Joan, Clinical Nurse Specialist at the Capital Health Cancer Care Program.

“Parents need help with the words and how to say things openly, honestly and at a level each child can understand,” she adds.

Joan helps parents, throughout Nova Scotia as well as in other provinces, to make those difficult discussions easier. In the early 1990s, in response to repeated requests from health providers and parents for assistance, Joan wrote When a Parent is Sick: Helping Parents Explain Serious Illness to Children, which is published by Pottersfield Press.

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