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Prevent Cancer Now: A Year in Review (2014-2015)

By Meg Sears PhD, PCN co-chair

A year ago I blithely stepped into the role of Prevent Cancer Now (PCN) co-chair, and what a year it was! We summited large organizational challenges, PCN made great strides with strong science, and we look forward to a stronger voice and increasing impact in the coming months.

PCNs Annual General Meeting on August 5th is your chance to find out more, in person, to share thoughts, and to step up to work for a healthier Canada.

What we do – make better choices

We all can eliminate contributors to cancer. PCN works to identify and educate individuals to make better choices in everyday life, and advocates for better science and actions by those with power to make changes happen.

The people lead, and then the leaders follow

Together, our seemingly small decisions – which foods or products to buy or use – not only determine our own exposures, but send messages to companies that Canadians want better choices.

Communities’ choices, such as to ban certain pesticides, ripple up to provincial and maybe even federal levels.

Safest options for everyone

Personal choices are important, but not enough. You should not need a university degree and chemical dictionary to shop. Safest alternatives should be available and affordable; indeed they should be the norm.

To help with myriad choices, PCN surpassed a year of posting weekly cancer-prevention tips, based on the most up to date science.

Regulators charged with scientific assessments are mired in outdated processes, so PCN works to improve regulatory science. We must not repeat the follies of lead, tobacco and many pesticides, waiting for enormous harms before taking precautionary actions.

Website updated with thorough scientific information

PCN provides the scientific basis for cancer prevention, in terms understood by us all. Website materials have been updated and strengthened, so please share with decision-makers such as your politicians, as you seek healthier communities.

Prevent Cancer Now’s Year of Science

PCN had two important scientific firsts this year:

  1. The Scientific Review to Support Public Policy poster was presented at the Bioelectromagnetics international scientific conference in California; and
  2. A research project was initiated with University of Toronto scientists looking for a persistent, cancer-causing environmental breakdown product of neonicotinoid (“bee-killing”) insecticides.

In addition, submissions were made to the World Health Organization, Health Canada, the Pest Management Regulatory Agency, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Board, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health, the Manitoba government, and several cities including Toronto and Edmonton. We addressed pesticides, bees, toxic and radioactive chemicals, and wireless radiation.

A Writers’ Circle was formed to prepare materials for the media, and to develop members’ skills. We all benefited greatly from this enjoyable collaboration, and PCNs public voice is being amplified on the radio, in newspapers and online.

Public talks were given in Ottawa and Calgary, and PCN was represented at several environmental health shows.

We will go further, together

PCN input featured in consultation meetings and letters regarding toxins, co-signed with dozens of like-minded Canadian environmental, legal and medical groups.

PCN is honoured to be chosen a Leader in Routes of Change. This meshes perfectly with PCN’s message that many small steps, individual decisions, are important to reduce cancer.

Changing Faces – your chance to step up!

A year ago I replaced long time, hard-working Diana Daghofer as co-chair. She stepped down, along with administrator Judy Field. Board Member Dave Renauld then stepped down from PCN to enjoy his new retirement, Treasurer Anna Popiolek travelled abroad, and finally co-chair Natasha Klemm stepped down as she heads off to medical school. Thank you all for years of hard work and support, and best wishes as you all move on!

Robin McLeod (Calgary) buoyed the Board’s ranks, with her extensive experience in environmental integrity and toxicants.

Bill Thompson, a multi-talented long-time environmental educator took over administration. Our books have never been clearer or better kept, and with transition in hand Bill looks forward to assisting with educational and environmental activities.

Looking forward, we are honoured and delighted that Ottawa hematologist Dr. Richard van der Jagt, and labour representative Richard St. Denis are prepared to join the Board.

Board member applications would be welcome, particularly representation from the coasts, First Nations and ethnic groups.

PCN particularly needs individuals with expertise in the following areas:

  • Finance and Fundraising
  • Community and event organization
  • Strategy
  • Health and environmental sciences
  • Writing and communications

If this sounds like you, please contact us here!