Beth Ciavaglia takes over as chair of OICR’s Patient and Family Advisory Council (PFAC) with plans to harness an exciting time for patient partnership.
With engaged patient partners and a supportive organization, Beth Ciavaglia says OICR’s Patient and Family Advisory Council (PFAC) is poised to make its mark on cancer research in Ontario.
That’s why she put her name forward to become PFAC chair when outgoing chair Diana Lemaire announced she was stepping down earlier this year.
Ciavaglia has been a PFAC member since the council launched back in early 2021. As a breast cancer survivor, physiotherapist and long-term care administrator she brings a unique perspective to the group.
She says her experience with PFAC so far has surpassed her expectations. She has always felt welcomed into the OICR community and felt her input was appreciated by researchers.
“There is an intentionality to how OICR involves PFAC in all aspects of its work, and our involvement has never felt performative,” Ciavaglia says.
Though not every organization has embraced patient partnership equally, she says she has seen a lot of progress recently. The infrastructure for patient partnership has matured across Canada and there are more and more opportunities for patients to shape the health system.
“I feel like patient partnership is really on the upswing, and PFAC is perfectly positioned to be leaders in this space,” she says.
Ciavaglia credits her predecessor Lemaire, inaugural chair Antonia Palmer, her other patient partner colleagues and OICR’s staff and executive for laying the groundwork for authentic patient partnership.
Lemaire, who is staying on as PFAC member, agrees that people are the group’s biggest strength.
“The best part of my time as chair has been working with such extraordinary people,” she says. “It has been an honour to lead OICR’s PFAC and I believe that our council has made significant contributions to advancing patient partnership across the organization.”
To build on this foundation, Ciavaglia wants to continue fostering trust among OICR patient partners. That includes PFAC as well as OICR’s Patient Community, a growing network of patients that Ciavaglia says is a tremendous asset.
“I am excited about how we are growing our patient partnership community, not just by volume, but by giving everyone a real opportunity to make an impact,” she says.
Nearly four years since being diagnosed with cancer, Ciavaglia says working with OICR has given her hope as a cancer survivor and patient advocate.
“It really has been a pleasure to be involved,” she says. “There are a few silver linings that I have found as a cancer survivor, and this is one of them.”