St. Albert, Alberta
Alberta’s Tomorrow Project participant since 2011
What do you think are the most important issues facing the health of Canadians?
Pinpointing the biggest issue facing the health Canadians is difficult. So many combinations of things are interacting that impact the health of everyone. For me it boils down to social justice issues. We need to take better care of ourselves and each other.
Poverty, discrimination based on race, gender, sexual identity and immigration status all interact to tax an increasingly stressed health care system. This impacts the health care of all of us. As the political climate changes around us, it is so important to rely on studies and science that shed light on the complex interactions that impact our health. We need to make decisions, educate and continue to ask questions that will improve outcomes, focus on prevention efforts that are based on facts rather than pure emotion.
Our health and the health of our families depend on making well-informed choices in public policy that also can help us make better choices personally that will impact our quality of life.
Why did you decide to get involved with ATP?
It started with the loss of a family member to breast cancer. I felt powerless to help her. I cut my long hair and donated it to help make wigs, but I wanted to do something that was more long-term. When I heard about the Tomorrow Project in the news, I knew that I wanted to take part. I wanted to help researchers in a personal way. I wanted my life to have some value to later generations. It was an easy way to ensure that my life could mean something.
The decision to take part was further reinforced by my father’s diagnosis of liver cancer a few years ago. He died in 2016. His death impacted me in many ways, but it made me even more passionate about creating a legacy and honouring him. He taught me the value of service and connecting to others. Through the donation of my health information, I feel connected to those in my life to those I have lost, but I also feel connected to the future generations that could benefit from my gift.
Do you have any personal experience cancer and/or other chronic diseases?
I have lost a few family members to cancer and I’ve also worked with cancer patients at various times in my career as a social worker. I have not had cancer myself and I hope that I never have to walk through that journey.
I have polycystic ovarian syndrome a chronic condition that has had an impact on my life in a variety of ways. I often wonder if my information has been used for research in this area of health.
If there was one thing you could change about health care in your community, what would it be?
I would like to see more emphasis on prevention rather than treatment – if we all took better care of ourselves, we would all be a bit healthier. The impact of good food, exercise and emphasis on good mental health can have huge impacts on the quality of our lives. I think small, manageable changes in our lives could have big impacts. Extreme reactions are rarely sustainable long term.
Did you learn anything new about yourself after participating in ATP?
Generally, I think I am a pretty healthy person. I am a vegetarian. I am reasonably active and maintain a healthy weight. I found it interesting that my belly fat measurements were a bit high when I first entered the program. It did make me rethink some of my food choices. While I am not sure that I have greatly changed the measurement, I do try to eat healthier as a result.
What would you say to another Canadian who’s thinking about getting involved in ATP/CPTP?
I think that participating with ATP/CPTP is a no-brainer. It’s super easy to participate, it’s minimally intrusive in your life, and it could have a huge impact. Individually it is hard for researchers to gather useful information about our lives, but collectively our data can makes all the difference. The more people that sign up for these studies, the more valuable the information becomes.