Cancer Care Nova Scotia will recognize a surgeon who is a leader, advocate and promoter of colon cancer prevention and screening; a social worker committed to helping patients get help for expensive cancer medications; a research lab using zebrafish to find better treatments for cancer; and a cancer survivor committed to helping other patients. The annual Excellence Awards in leadership, innovation, and patient care will be presented Monday, June 11. “It’s inspiring that there is so much great work being done in the field of cancer research and cancer care here in Nova Scotia,” said Health and Wellness Minister David Wilson. “The work and collaboration of this diverse group of recipients helps support the tremendous inroads that have been made in this province in cancer prevention and care.” The Excellence Awards were introduced in 2009 to mark the 10th anniversary of Cancer Care Nova Scotia. They acknowledge the work and commitment of people who have helped the organization further cancer prevention, treatment, and care for Nova Scotia cancer patients and their families. “It is never easy to select one person or team from a pool of exemplary health professionals and volunteers,” said Nancy Williamson, Cancer Care Nova Scotia advisory board member and chair of the Excellence Awards selection committee. “Of the 25 nominations we had to review, all were more than deserving of recognition. In the end, however, with the help of a committee of volunteers and a good evaluation tool, we were able to make thoughtful decisions.” The award recipients are: Leadership Excellence Award: Dr. Robert Sers, general surgeon, Guysborough Antigonish Strait Health Authority Innovation Excellence Award: the Aquatics Laboratory team at the IWK Health Centre Excellence in Patient Care Award for a health professional: Mary Lou Robertson, medication resource specialist, Capital Health Cancer Care Program, Excellence in Patient Care Award for a volunteer: Jim Mulcahy, a cancer survivor and volunteer advocate for cancer patients and families, from Antigonish Dr. Sers was an early advocate and champion of colon cancer prevention and screening in Guysborough Antigonish Strait Health Authority. He helped Cancer Care Nova Scotia plan and implement Nova Scotia’s population-based Colon Cancer Prevention Program and worked to ensure his district had the supports to be an early adopter in March 2009. He has participated in the colonoscopy master class program, which provides hands-on practice to enhance the skills of experienced colonoscopists. The Aquatics Laboratory team, led by Dr. Jason Berman, a pediatric hematologist-oncologist with the IWK Health Centre and scientist with Dalhousie University, and lab manager Ameer Jarrar, is using zebrafish to find better ways to treat childhood leukemia and other cancers. The lab is testing new drugs that could radically improve the results for children and adults. Ms. Robertson, a social worker and medication resource specialist, works with patients to help them address financial concerns related to drug coverage. She helps them understand private and government insurance policies and other programs that help ease the worry often associated with the cost of cancer medications. Ms. Robertson is also a volunteer with Cancer Transitions, which helps patients with life after cancer. Over the last 10 years, Mr. Mulcahy has worked on many committees with Cancer Care Nova Scotia, sharing the patient perspective to help develop and fine tune policies and programs. He is a staunch supporter and advocate for cancer patients in his home town of Antigonish. “The CCNS Excellence Awards provide an important opportunity for us to recognize and celebrate the talented and committed health professionals, as well as the many volunteers who together make up Nova Scotia’s cancer system,” said Theresa Marie Underhill, chief operating officer, Cancer Care Nova Scotia. “Working together, our goal is to provide our patients with high-quality care based on the most current evidence, while helping to make their cancer journey as easy as possible.” Dr. Carman Giacomantonio, chief medical director, Cancer Care Nova Scotia, said each day in communities and districts across the province, health professionals and community volunteers work passionately to ensure cancer patients and families receive the best care possible. “Nova Scotia has an incredible team of health professionals who are dedicated to their patients,” said Dr. Giacomantonio, “And I count myself fortunate to be part of this team.” Cancer Care Nova Scotia is a provincial program of the Department of Health and Wellness, which facilitates quality cancer prevention and care for Nova Scotians.