Lori’s story: Working together to create health equity
Seeing inequity in cancer care @(Model.HeadingTag)>
When Lori was a caregiver, she recognized more issues that could create barriers for people affected by cancer. As she helped her sister shop for wigs, scarves, post-surgery bras, and over-the-counter medication, she thought about how difficult it must be for someone precariously employed to manage expenses not covered by government health insurance. As she travelled to and from appointments, she thought about how difficult it must be for people in smaller communities to travel for treatment and take time away from their lives and families. And as a Black woman with a community health research background, she was surprised by the lack of Canadian research on cancer in Black communities. Doctors would refer to American studies, but as a Black Canadian Lori’s sister’s experience was different from the American experience.
Health inequities in cancer care are not just a gap; they are a chasm. If we don’t dedicate funding toward them, how will we develop the appropriate knowledge to transform our system to be inclusive for all?
During her time as a caregiver, Lori learned about the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) from a friend and contacted them for resources to share with her sister. She told CCS about her background in HIV research with racialized women and that she would be interested in research-related opportunities as a patient partner. Lori had a chance to contribute her knowledge as a researcher and patient partner when she was invited to co-design the Health Equity Research Grants funding opportunity.
Reducing cancer-related health inequities through research @(Model.HeadingTag)>
CCS is investing $1.6 million in the Health Equity Research Grants, which aim to improve the lives of people in Canada by reducing cancer-related health inequities faced by underserved communities. During the grant program’s development, patient partners like Lori were invited to give feedback and co-create the final version of the grant program. Lori found the experience of working to create the Health Equity Research Grants very collaborative. The team of patient partners included many people, who, like Lori, have had lived experience with cancer and had experience of inequity. They worked individually and as a group to provide feedback. “I provided three pages of comments, with the first page focusing on the language I didn't like in the proposal as it seemed exclusionary and overly clinical. The heading I used in my comments was ‘Certain words in grants tend to get my back up’. Judit (CCS Senior manager, research partnerships and engagement) called me to go through every comment I made – and I made so many comments! – and as she asked questions I thought, “Wow, they really want to make this program inclusive.’”