Cancer diagnosis and treatment is complex and can often be confusing and overwhelming for patients and their families. Many care providers and clinics support this journey, which is why Whitehorse General Hospital (WGH) has established a highly collaborative and specialized team, providing a range of cancer care to support patients, when possible, to be closer to home.
In 2017, Registered Nurse Britt Udala joined that team in the role of Cancer Care Coordinator. Her specialized education and training, and experience as a chemotherapy travel nurse in Northern BC and the Yukon, supports Yukoners by helping them make informed decisions about treatment and access to timely support throughout our hospital and broader health system – inside and outside the territory.
“I’m here from day one. When someone is diagnosed, often they come into the office, and their emotions are very raw. All they want me to do is sit and listen to them,” says Britt. “Fortunately, here in the Yukon, we’re able to offer oneon-one experience with somebody who is your advocate throughout your entire cancer journey.”
A cancer diagnosis can affect patients and families physically, emotionally, financially, socially, and spiritually. It’s a difficult path that cancer survivor and hospital volunteer Eileen Fraser understands all too well. “I was diagnosed in March 2010, and I didn’t know at the time, but I was actually stage three plus,” says Eileen. “It took me years to say that.” Today, Eileen is using her experiences by welcoming patients as they arrive for appointments and treatments in WGH’s chemotherapy clinic, which had 1,053 visits last year. She helps create a comfortable environment that supports the care by our team of physicians, nurses and pharmacists.
“I went through lots of testing at the U of A Hospital and the Cross Cancer Institute in Edmonton,” says Eileen. “The one thing I noticed at Cross Cancer was all the burgundy vests – the volunteers. They made such an impact.”
By working together with the hospital’s surgical and diagnostic teams, clinical dieticians and oncology specialist and family physicians, Britt and Eileen are ensuring patients receive the best care
every time. “Our patients know that I’m going to go to bat for them,” says Britt. “I just see it as an honour to help someone out in one of the most difficult times in their life.”