Chemotherapy treatment couldn’t keep Lynn Bissell from signing up for InspireHealth’s paddling fundraiser last Saturday (July 26).
The lifelong paddler has been a member of the integrative cancer care clinic since February, after being released from hospital. She says InspireHealth offered her the immediate support she needed that she hadn’t received anywhere else.
“I tried to see the dietician for weeks at the BC Cancer agency, when I was still in the hospital” she said. “Because of my surgery, I couldn’t eat, and nutrition was very important.” At InspireHealth, she saw a dietician immediately, and like all the members, has unlimited followups.
This commitment to both quality and quantity of care is integral to InspireHealth’s philosophy, said Rachel Mark, who works as an exercise therapist at the centre.
“The first time a patient sees a GP, they get 90 minutes,” she said. “They get to go over their results, ask questions. We really want our patients to have the information they need and feel like they have the tools to make decisions about their care.”
The centre employs clinical counsellors, dieticians, exercise therapists and doctors who specialize in cancer care, and members have complete control over their healing process.
“They mould their own program. They can pick and choose who they want to see and when,” said director Randy Harney. “It’s about helping patients. It can help them get through the more difficult parts.”
The paddling event is InspireHealth’s main fundraiser for the year. Though the Ministry of Health recently agreed to the staff salaries, the rest of the centre’s costs – rent, equipment and all other overhead – is not covered. Saturday’s fundraiser brought in just over $22,000, about two-thirds of their goal. Harney said they’re also raising money to cover the cost of membership ($450 for the first year, $95 each year thereafter) for people on premium health care assistance.
The value of the unlimited services offered through InspireHealth is between $3,000 and $10,000 yearly, said Harney. From yoga classes, acupressure and acupuncture, healthy cooking classes, counselling sessions, group meditations and exercise classes, members have a wide range of services to choose from, in addition to unlimited visits to an in-office GP.
“A diagnosis of cancer, although scary, can also lead to big changes and ultimately improve quality of life,” said Harney. “We provide them with the evidence for what these changes can do for them.”
Ultimately, it’s about giving patients the attention they need as they go through treatment.
“One of the most important parts that we do for patients is listen to them,” said Harney. “Listening is a big part of what we do.”
For Bissell, a woman who once paddled from Swartz Bay to Fulford Harbour in a rudderless river kayak, overcoming cancer is just one more challenge, but having them team at InspireHealth behind her helps. Why is it such a great resource for patients? “All the support,” she said. “They were very helpful.”