An Inuvik-led project to bring hope to cancer patients is nearing completion and the organizers want the entire territory to contribute a passage.
The Book of Hope has been accepting inspiring stories about overcoming cancer for over two years and will continue to do so until the end of May. But project leader Anges Pascal says she wants to be able to include a success story from every community in the territory.
“It’s a collection of stories told by cancer survivors in the Northwest Territories,” she said. “Our goal is to share hope and our experiences with others who may not have support groups in their communities.
“There’s very few support groups, so this book is a collection of survivors who see the importance of sharing hope to encourage those who are going through their own journey and also family members and caregivers.”
Pascal said so far she has survivor stories from Aklavik, Behchoko, Fort Good Hope, Fort McPherson, Fort Resolution, Hay River, Inuvik, Tuktoyaktuk, Ulukhaktok and Yellowknife, leaving 23 communities yet to include their voice.
Including the smaller, more remote communities is especially important, Pascal noted, because people in remote communities often have the steepest hills to climb to access treatment.
“Northern community members, once they hear someone has cancer, they don’t know how to react,” she said. “They don’t know if they should go visit, or if they should give them space. So it is also showing what a cancer patient needs from their community.
“It’s really scary when you’re first diagnosed with cancer, so this book will answer a lot of questions people have.”
With funding from Hotıì ts’eeda, a health research advocacy group hosted by the Tłı̨chǫ Government and with help from Crystal Milligan to get the project started, the Book of Hope team consists of ARI research chair Sara Komarnisky, accomplished NWT author Catherine Lafferty and Pascal, the team has been interviewing people of their experiences and accepting written submissions. Pascal said they were interested in speaking to anyone about their experiences from the point of being diagnosed with cancer through their entire journey to when they were told their cancer was in remission.
Also included in the book will be coping strategies and accounts from people in the cancer treatment field, including from nurses who have treated cancer patients and other resources for the community. A tribute to Inuvik Cancer Group participant and missed positive light David Malcolm will also be included.
Pascal added that everyone who participates will receive an honorarium for their troubles.
“We want to try to include everybody,” she said. “We do interviews by phone or if in person if possible. We do have some people writing their own submissions.
“Every reader that picks up this book will have something to related to.”
Once they reach their end of May deadline, Pascal said the next step was to get the book published. She said the group was still weighing their options on whether to self-publish or to go through a publishing company.
In the interim, she said anyone who wants to share their story of hope should reach out to her by either email at firstname.lastname@example.org by phone at (867) 620 0803.