Until our dual challenges of cancer and injury, we had little contact with the Quebec health system and its resources. That rapidly changed! And, we have been impressed by the range of services and the quality of care offered to us. So, the message of self-care here is to find out about and access the resources available.
The system of Local Community Health Centres (CLSC) is impressive, even if under financial pressures. I was well-cared for by nurses who changed the dressings on my PICC line during chemotherapy and my post-surgical dressings. Angie’s dressings were also changed by a travelling CLSC nurse at home, after her surgery given the risk of further injury if she went out in the icy days of late winter.
Social Worker: Home Care and Transportation
Angie was also assigned a social worker attached to the CLSC, who connected us to the home care assistance service which provided great support during the crisis days when we were able to hire a friend to help around the house. The social worker also let us in on ‘the greatest secret of all’: in my May update, I noted “Another revelation after our twenty years here when we’ve been so frustrated by the lack of public transportation, has been to learn from our social worker that rural transportation (with payment of a set stipend to a driver) is available for people who are unable to drive and need to get to various kinds of appointments. Who knew? This has created a whole new level of mobility for Angie just as enhancing mobility is her theme.”
Pivot Nurse Navigator
For all my talk of being proactive, I still found it hard to push for additional assistance if I had a concern. I was only too ready to discount it. I was able to get over this by plucking up my courage and calling my pivot nurse when I needed help (eg., to get an appointment), or more information or even, simple reassurance. It was her job to be there as needed. I usually had to leave a message but she returned my calls and was happy to assist even if I was being over-anxious.
Breast Cancer Resource Centre
There were also resources available for me as a cancer patient at Gatineau Hospital from ancilliary services. These were set out in a brochure provided by a volunteer at the Hospital and included support groups, low-cost massage etc. Well worth checking out!