Life after cancer: Transforming the post-treatment experience

Listening to the priorities of First Nations, Inuit and Métis for life after treatment

First Nations, Inuit and Métis have been advocating to address barriers to cancer care and improve the journey to wellness (including after active treatment ends) for a long time. To help drive needed changes in cancer care, outcomes and experiences, the Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control details three priorities articulated by First Nations, Inuit and Métis:

  • Culturally appropriate care closer to home: Many First Nations, Inuit and Métis face barriers in accessing post-treatment care, similar to those experienced by underserviced, remote, rural and isolated communities where services are limited. However, historical and contemporary realities amplify the inequities faced by First Nations, Inuit and Métis in receiving community-led and culturally appropriate care.
  • Peoples-specific, self-determined care: Culturally appropriate care can be offered only through Peoples-specific programs and services. This requires innovative approaches where Peoples-specific leadership is demonstrated through self-determined health programs and services that meet the needs of communities.
  • First Nations-, Inuit-, Métis-governed research and data systems: To protect the privacy of personal health information, there is no way of knowing whether a person with cancer identifies as First Nations, Inuit or Métis based on the data found in cancer registries. This limits the opportunities to provide Peoples-specific survivorship support. Peoples-specific data needs to be collected — with First Nations, Inuit and Métis determining how that data is used and managed.

The Partnership is committed to the ongoing process of reconciliation. With a focus on establishing meaningful relationships with First Nations, Inuit and Métis leaders and communities, the Partnership continues to support self-determined, Peoples-specific solutions for sustainable system change that will benefit First Nations, Inuit and Métis living with cancer in Canada.

A closer look at Indigenous communities in Manitoba

To better support people as they transfer from cancer treatment to primary care, it is important that cancer care teams know what resources are available in an individual’s community — especially for those living in rural or remote areas. Otherwise, the care plans they develop may not be realistic.

With Partnership support, CancerCare Manitoba worked with First Nation, Métis and Inuit partners to co-develop the Community Profiles website, making it easy for healthcare providers to look up information about First Nations and Métis communities in Manitoba, as well as Inuit communities in Nunavut. For each community, the profiles provide details on:

  • community size
  • languages spoken
  • band affiliations
  • transportation routes

They also outline the services found in each community, including interpreters or nursing coordinators, the nearest pharmacy and radiation therapy centre, medical transportation, and much more.

CancerCare Manitoba is proud to recognize the partners who contributed to the Community Profiles website:

Breaking down language barriers for Inuit

A ground-breaking mobile app is bridging the language gap between healthcare professionals and Inuktitut speakers. Launched in November 2023, the Tukisiutik app helps healthcare teams support people who only speak Inuktitut by offering:

  • an anatomical glossary in three languages (English, French and Inuktitut)
  • a bilingual symptom index (English and Inuktitut)
  • a bilingual pain rating scale
  • bilingual audio pronunciations of medical terms

Developed by the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services, this Partnership-funded app promotes equal access to precise healthcare information to improve the cancer journey for Inuit.

A holistic approach to the First Nations and Métis cancer journeys

Being able to access culturally safe and relevant information is important at every stage of the cancer journey. The Living with Cancer; everyone deserves support booklet — available in two versions, one for First Nations and one for Métis — provides information about cancer resources available to First Nations and Métis in British Columbia, while weaving in personal insights through the voices of those who have lived through cancer. Developed with Partnership support by the First Nations Health Authority, Métis Nation British Columbia and BC Cancer, the booklet covers the cancer journey from start to finish, with the chapter on life after treatment addressing topics such as returning to work, follow-up care and tips for maintaining wellness.