Skip to content

Cancer support group pens book to create hope for others

Agnes Pascal is joined by fellow Inuvik Cancer Support group members Mary Roland and Ruth Wright at the World Indigenous Cancer Conference in 2019. The support group is working on a ‘Book of Hope’ to spread success stories of people who overcame the disease to encourage new patients to stay strong.

Feb. 4 is World Cancer Day and Inuvik’s home-grown Cancer Support Group is using the occasion to announce work has begun on a book to help inspire new patients in their fight against the disease.

Called the ‘Book of Hope’, the publication will detail a variety of cancer survivor stories from around the Northwest Territories.

“Our hope is to reach more people, informing them of what one person goes through when they have cancer,” said support group founder and facilitator Agnes Pascal of Fort McPherson. “Another reason is to reach out to patients who are just diagnosed and their family members to give them hope and encouragement.”

With funding from Hotıì ts'eeda, a health research advocacy group hosted by the Tłı̨chǫ Government and overseen by the GNWT, the book’s authors hope to interview numerous people of all ages throughout the NWT and detail the journey as it applies to different types of cancer.

Pascal said she was inspired to put the book together after her own experience with cancer and the supports that helped her overcome it.

“It’s such a shame for people not to hear these stories,” she said. “You can hear so much of the strength and courage that it took to go through what they went through and what got them through.”

Knowing others have gone through what one is experiencing and knowing what to expect are two powerful tools to help survive cancer, added Pascal.

Founded in 2018, the Local Cancer Support group historically met monthly at Ingamo Hall up until the Covid-19 pandemic put a stop to large social gatherings. However, the group is planning to resume gatherings in February using the online platform Zoom, at least until the pandemic is over.

Pascal founded the group after winning her own battle with cancer. She said it was important for people who are diagnosed with cancer to connect with others, as having more information on what one is going to experience can be a lifesaver.

“You go into shock, thinking that you’re going to die,” she said. “I had two friends who experienced the same type of cancer that I had, so I really leaned on them. They were there for me throughout and really made a difference in how I handled cancer.

“If I didn’t have that sort of guidance and someone truthfully telling me how it was going to be to lose my hair, I would not have built up the endurance to handle those situations as they came.

“I wouldn’t have handled everything as well as I did and probably wouldn’t be calling myself a survivor today.”

About the Author: Eric Bowling

Read more