The following article is reprinted with permission from Ottawa Life Magazine - September 2010.
Public servants series by Mark Hayes
Chances are you don't know what a Radiation Therapist does. Some people might envision a nurse that takes x-rays or perhaps (if you’re into science fiction), a cross between Darth Vader and Dr. Fraser Crane. According to the National Cancer Institute, “Radiation therapy is the treatment of cancer and other diseases with ionizing radiation.” The therapist works with doctors, patients and all members of the hospital team to strategize and implement the destruction of malignant cells.
Emily Sinclair has been waging war on cancer for over 20 years. She graduated with a DCR(T) from the School of Radiotherapeutics and Oncology in Glasgow, Scotland. Shortly after graduation, Emily was headhunted by the Canadian Government, as Emily explains, "The wait list for cancer treatment in Canada was too high, so they sent scouts all around the world to bring in new talent." They offered Emily a one year contract and an exciting opportunity to move to a new country and put her new skillset to work. It's been over twenty years and she's still here.
Emily works as a radiation therapist at the Odette Cancer Centre in Toronto's Sunnybrook Hospital. On any given day, she can find herself doing anything from calculating the radiation dose and planning the patient’s treatment, preparing an isodose distribution to spare as much healthy tissue as possible, counseling patients and their families, or treating patients with the high-tech radiation equipment with names that are near impossible to pronounce. Her role in the patient’s recovery is absolutely essential — remember, the doctor sees a patient once every two weeks, whereas Emily deals with them every day for 6 weeks straight.
Emily is the recipient of multiple awards, but perhaps the most prestigious is a recent Academic Appointment at the University of Toronto's Department of Radiation Oncology within the Faculty of Medicine. She was awarded this honour for her significant contribution and dedication to her field of study; as a result, she contributes to the world of academia by writing manuscripts and lecturing both locally and across the world.
Aside from the obvious challenges Emily faces on a daily basis, she wants to raise awareness to difficulties facing her discipline at large, stating, “The salaries aren’t great, but our qualifications have to be.” Most radiation therapists have at least 7 years of post-secondary education under their belt, but their pay levels don’t represent two degrees, “Many good Radiation Therapists move on to drug companies or medical tech manufacturers — we can’t compete with the salaries they offer.” Through Emily’s efforts with the Canadian Association of Medical Radiation Technologists (CAMRT) and her union the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC), she fights for the strength of her profession which ultimately contributes to the betterment of public health and society at large.
Active steward Yves Cousineau was presented with the National Capital Region's "Unsung Hero" award in recognition of his many years of humble, diligent service. Yves serves on the executives of the NCR Transport Canada Branch, NR Group, and Place de Ville Sub-Group.
At its Autumn Steward Council, the Québec Region presented Liette Manseau and Guy Abel with certificates of recognition for their outstanding contributions to the Québec Region. Pictured above: Richard East (AFS), Liette Manseau (AFS), Regional Director Yvon Brodeur (AV), Guy Abel (CS), and Robert Tellier (CS).