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What is Cancer Coaching?

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During their lifetime, nearly 1 in 2 Canadians will be diagnosed with cancer1. Patients will see a number of healthcare professionals in seeking diagnosis and treatment. While family members and friends remain by the patient’s side throughout their experience, there is no single healthcare professional tasked with supporting the patient along this journey. That’s where Cancer Coaching comes in.

At any stage of a patient’s cancer experience, their Cancer Coach will work with them to help them achieve their goals. Cancer Coaches can assist with a number of needs, including managing treatment side effects, managing stress, receiving emotional support, exercising mindfulness, and improving communication with their family and healthcare team. An important outlet and resource for cancer patients, a Cancer Coach can help patients, caregivers, and family members to feel better both emotionally and physically.

Many patients say they don’t receive the psychosocial support they need while facing cancer2, with the average appointment with their oncologist lasting just 15 minutes. In addition, when patients finish treatment they go from the specialized care of their oncologist back to their family doctor, with little support in managing stress, fear of recurrence, and healthy lifestyle changes. To help fill the gaps that can exist in cancer care, NexJ Health is working with the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation to provide online support through NexJ Connected Wellness for the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation’s Cancer Coaching program. Their Cancer Coaches work to change the cancer experience for survivors and their families in eastern Ontario, making sure these gaps can be properly addressed. These regulated healthcare professionals work with cancer survivors and their families to meet the challenges of cancer, achieve their health and wellness goals, and improve quality of life. Early studies have shown that Cancer Coaching is effective in helping cancer patients and survivors become active participants in their care, so they can enjoy a more positive and productive healthcare experience.

To maximize the impact of Cancer Coaching, Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation’s Cancer Coaching program has also launched an initiative called ICAN Coach; this will allow them to deliver a training program across the country, helping health professionals learn how to coach their own patients and incorporate Cancer Coaching into their models of care. NexJ Health has served as a resource in cultivating these partnerships and making the training a reality and look forward to seeing the wider adoption of Cancer Coaching.


The project as featured on CBC Radio’s White Coat Black Art with Dr. Brian Goldman: Why every cancer patient in Canada deserves a cancer coach.


Similarly, sexual health and rehabilitation clinics can offer cancer survivors that same type of outlet, walking them through the days ahead, including side effects and the toll they can take on their daily lives. Our work with the Movember Foundation’s TrueNTH (“True North”) Sexual Health and Rehabilitation e-Clinic (SHAReClinic) has shown tremendous promise for such online clinics to provide the same level of support as face-to-face support programs, while also allowing for greater scalability and ease of access for participants.

While cancer coaches and sexual rehabilitation clinics are of great value to cancer patients, access to these resources and the coordination needed to service large populations can be complicated and can result in restricted access and thus limited impact. NexJ Health has addressed this issue by virtualizing what would traditionally be formal, in-person support, and making it available across a wider geography. Since coaches lend support to patients remotely, service delivery can be seamlessly shifted for patient care across multiple providers by using one collaborative tool: NexJ Connected Wellness. This high degree of accessibility allows coaches to engage with patients where patients are, and in keeping with the patient’s schedule, break down the transportation, financial, and logistical barriers that can affect participation and completion.

1 Canadian Cancer Statistics, A 2018 Special Report. The Canadian Cancer Society.
2 Annual Report, 2018-2019, Canadian Partnership Against Cancer.