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Silver Linings-before, during and after cancer

'If you have been diagnosed with cancer, it is scary. So this is about building community and finding support and knowing there are people here for you' Silver Linings co-founder Nicky Poulin

Judy Tofflemire was one of hundreds of people in search of information during the 2nd Annual Silver Linings Cancer Wellness and Awareness Day held in North Bay over the weekend.

This year close to 50 information booths were set up throughout Widdifield Secondary School, an increase over last year.

Tofflemire was there to gather information to help a loved one on his cancer journey.

“I think it is great. There is quite a variety of things that touches cancer and your life, or the person you are supporting. It is very informative. We’re getting educated on what we need to know about cancer and ourselves. It is very helpful,” said Tofflemire.

“A cancer diagnosis is scary, and you’re withdrawn because who don’t know who to ask, or what to ask until you get to the right department, or in this case, the right booth. They’re there for you. They pick you up, and dust you off, and send you on your right way. We learned a lot today, and we’re going to go forward with it to our oncologist. We’ve got questions to ask, but it is all good now. There is a silver lining.”

The day focused on networking, to try and eliminate some of their fears.   

“If you have been diagnosed, it is scary. So this is about building community and finding support and knowing there are people here for you. One out of two people will be diagnosed with cancer in Ontario. I’m a firm believer that knowledge is king. Be proactive as opposed to reactive. The more we know, the more we learn, the more we will be able to face whatever challenges we may have,” said event co-founder Nicky Poulin.

“Listen to stories that people have, who have gone through different cancers, and what the silver linings are behind it. For every bad there is a good, even if part of it is just sharing your journey so someone else knows where to go or what to do.”

In addition to visiting booths, there were a number of workshops and presentations by guest speakers.

“A new addition is a booth, kind of a take-off of the Peanuts cartoon, where people can get advice. We’ve had doctors, we’ve had cancer survivors, we’ve had grief specialists, all these different people who are willing to sit at the booth for an hour. People can go up, talk to them, tell them their story or get answers to their questions.”

Although the day focused on cancer wellness, it touched on other health related issues regardless of age or sex.

“We have people talking about neuropathy which is something that can happen to people with diabetes. People can ask about chronic pain, we have a mindfulness program here. There’s so many different things because it is about finding the things that will make you feel better, or that will help you move through your journey.”  

The Taoist Tai Chi Society provided a demonstration, explaining the health benefits of this ancient martial art.

“We actually have a program for people recovering from any kind of illness. It gives you good blood flow because the movements are slow and gradual. It is great for the lymphatic system which runs through your body that gets rid of toxins, so that is going to help your immune system and keep you strong. It is wonderful for helping to steady your balance. And just for flexibility. It also help reduce stress and anxiety. It is an overall body experience,” explained club member, Joyce Woolley.

As a representative of the Callander Public Library, Melissa Sones, was available to explain the resources available at most public libraries.

“Not just books but online resources as well. We brought books about cancer, but also information on overall health and wellness. We also brought some relaxing reads because  sometimes you just want a good book to take your mind off other things.”

Everyone was encouraged to fill out a survey to help organizers move forward with its website.

“We want to make a network or a hub so that once somebody is diagnosed, they will at least have a place where they can go to find all the different peer groups, and the different facilities that are available,” said Poulin.

“The survey asks what cancer patients are looking for. During your journey, what do you want? What are you in search of? What we’re going to do is try and find those things in our area, or even if we have to go outside of our area. We’re going to try and make a network so people can navigate through their journey. Right now you can get to our website through There is a survey page on there. You can fill it out whether you have been to the fair or not. We still want to know what things you are looking for.”