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Canadian Cancer Society focuses on hope for patients with Daffodil Month

Jennifer Mitchell, right, is a two-time cancer survivor. (Source: Canadian Cancer Society) Jennifer Mitchell, right, is a two-time cancer survivor. (Source: Canadian Cancer Society)
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As a two-time cancer survivor, Jennifer Mitchell knows how important hope can be to the recovery process. It’s a feeling she strongly associates with the daffodil.

“The daffodil is one of the first flowers to bloom in spring,” she said. “To me it’s a sign of hope and resilience. I resonate with it. It’s a new beginning.”

The daffodil and other flowers and plants take centre stage in the spring, as the Maritimes and the rest of Canada shrug off winter and look towards warmer months as a time of renewal. It’s a feeling the Canadian Cancer Society hopes to capture this month.

Jane Parsons, executive vice president of revenue development with the Canadian Cancer Society, said the group uses the humble flower as a symbol of renewal and power for April, which is officially Daffodil Month. The annual event focuses on fundraising for cancer initiatives and informing the public about the society’s programs.

“Sixty-five years ago, Daffodil Month started as a tea party and now it’s a national movement,” Parsons said. “We focus on our legacy and our rich future.

“When CCS was founded in 1938, the cancer survival rate was 25 per cent.” (According to the Canadian Cancer Statistics 2021, the five-year net cancer survival rate was estimated to be 64 per cent for all cancers combined).

Parsons said the society is lobbying the federal government to protect cancer patients’ jobs during treatment, among other measures. On the patient level, she said they try to provide personalized help to people who need it.

“The cancer experience is personal,” Parsons said. “At times wigs and breast prostheses make people feel more confident. It’s less about the disease and more about them.

“It’s very personal. Many people who lose their hair will take a wig or turban to support them emotionally.”

One of the major programs for the society is their lodges, which provide housing for patients undergoing cancer treatment far from home. Mitchell is well acquainted with the lodges and the services the society can provide.

“My diagnosis required me to move St. John’s, N.L.,” she said. “I had to make the trek across the island and I was there for eight months.”

Mitchell now sits on the Newfoundland advisory board for the Canadian Cancer Society, bringing her perspective as a survivor to the organization.

“Cancer is a scary word, (but) these days it’s not a death sentence,” she said. “There is hope and there’s support available. You’re not alone.

“I had a lot of family around me but I felt I was alone in my diagnosis. I tell people they’re not alone. There are so many people going through similar experiences.”

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