It sounds so cliché…

As 2016 came to a close, so too did my PULSE assignment at the Canadian Cancer Society in Toronto. I feel like I should write a final blog, but where to begin?

As I reflect on these past months, I want to write about my experience, but I can’t seem to find the words to describe how in awe I am of the work done by the Canadian Cancer Society every day.  How do I write about the tireless efforts of the team I worked with to improve public health? About this organization’s unwavering commitment?  Their priorities are evident at the heart of everything they do to fulfill their mission:

  • Lead research to better prevent cancers so that more Canadians reduce their cancer risks and fewer face cancer.  
  • Influence public policy for quality cancer care everywhere in Canada so that more Canadians survive cancer.
  • Focus support programs on the greatest need of patients and caregivers so that Canadians touched by cancer have a better quality of life with and beyond cancer
  • Engage more Canadians in the fight against cancers so that the Society has most impact, with Canadians, against cancers for life.

My experience at the Canadian Cancer Society has been tremendously educational. I gained exposure to the NGO environment and the world of public health.  This assignment was particularly personally fulfilling for me as I learned about cancer risks, prevention, research, information gathering, knowledge translation, advocacy – not to mention Canada!  It sounds so cliché, but every day I found myself amazed and inspired by their work.  I was virtually reduced to tears as I sat in a meeting room listening to a conference call about efforts to promote and advocate for sun safety. How could a discussion about trees and sunscreen have such an effect on me?  The creativity and passion with which the team approaches delivering tailored, effective prevention messages to the most vulnerable populations was an inspiration that will stay with me forever.

My PULSE assignment has been an amazing experience.  I’d like to express my heartfelt gratitude to GSK for implementing and allowing me to be a part of the PULSE program, to my GSK colleagues who ensured that the work of our “home” department continued minus one body, and to the Canadian Cancer Society. It’s been a pleasure and privilege to be even a small part of this organization and the PULSE program.


Link to CCSRI Research Impact Report 2015

Link to Top 10 Advocacy Stories of 2016



  1. Sounds like an amazing experience, Joan!! I imagine both you and CCS benefitted from your time together. Welcome home and thanks for all you did. You’ve left the world a little better than you found it with this work and for that I am thankful and grateful for you!!

  2. I totally get what you mean about being in awe of what the CCS does every day to change the face of cancer in Canada. 🙂

  3. Joan, this is very lovely. I too had a hard time finding words to express my final blog post. It definitely takes some time and reflection. I love the fact that you embraced the experience of exposure to an NGO and the public health environment. No doubt that this project hit close to home for you. Thanks for acknowledging GSK and the PULSE program in this post. Sadly, I didn’t think of that, but it is how I feel as well. We were all blessed with a terrific gift of having had these great experiences. I look forward to talking to you very soon dear friend.

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