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New PFAC Chair takes lead of growing, evolving community of OICR patient partners
Blood cancer survivor Terry Hawrysh is the new Chair of OICR’s Patient and Family Advisory Council (PFAC).
New Chair of the OICR Patient and Family Advisory Council Terry Hawrysh and outgoing Chair Beth Ciavaglia.

Blood cancer survivor Terry Hawrysh is the new Chair of OICR’s Patient and Family Advisory Council (PFAC).

Though Terry Hawrysh has seen major strides in patient partnership since he first got involved in cancer research, he thinks we’re just scratching the surface of what patient partners can achieve.

So he’s excited to help lead the next evolution of patient partnership in cancer research as the new Chair of OICR’s Patient and Family Advisory Council (PFAC).

“As Chair, I have a wonderful opportunity to draw on the collective knowledge and experience of many diverse and dynamic patients partners,” Hawrysh says. “Together, I believe we help ensure cancer research meets and exceeds the needs of cancer patients.”

Hawrysh has been a member of OICR’s PFAC since its inception in 2021 and has been involved in research as a patient partner for more than six years. He’s a semi-retired engineer who got interested in contributing to cancer research after his own experience with blood cancer, which he says changed him physically and mentally.

“Being treated for a life-threatening disease changed my sense of what’s important,” Hawrysh says. “I just want to be a good human and do whatever I can to improve the experiences of patients and their families.”

Since joining PFAC, he’s watched patient partnership grow and evolve at OICR. Patient partners are now embedded throughout OICR’s research programs, helping evaluate, shape and execute research projects.

But with a strong PFAC and a growing community of more than 70 patient partners, he thinks patients have even more to offer cancer research in Ontario. He looks forward to supporting more patients in co-designing research projects, authoring academic papers, and speaking up on important issues in cancer research and care.

“Patients and their families are the largest and most important group of stakeholders in cancer research,” he says. “Our collective voice can be very influential.”

Hawrysh took over as Chair from Beth Ciavaglia, who stepped down in February but will continue as a regular member of PFAC.

“My time as chair, although short, was very fulfilling. The PFAC crew and all OICR staff I encountered were incredibly supportive and encouraging,” says Ciavaglia, who has also been a PFAC member since 2021. “I am over the moon that Terry is picking up the role. His wealth of patient partnership experience, inside of OICR and out, will no doubt guide the group in the right direction.”

Hawrysh says Ciavaglia has left him big shoes to fill as chair.

“Beth was a very enthusiastic and effective chair and a wonderful bridge between PFAC and the OICR community,” he says. “I look forward to representing her and the rest of PFAC as we continue fostering meaningful collaborations between patients and researchers.”