Two Canadians diagnosed with kidney cancer who filled a gap in the Canadian health care system received Meritorious Service Decorations June 23, 2016, from Canada’s Governor General David Johnston at a ceremony in Ottawa.
Deb Maskens and the late Tony Clark, the founders of Kidney Cancer Canada, received the decorations in recognition of the support they have provided to thousands of Canadians touched by kidney cancer. They are part of a group of 52 Canadians receiving awards in the civil division. The decorations are in recognition of having performed an exceptional deed or activity over a limited period of time that has brought honour to their community or to Canada.
“I’m very proud to present the Meritorious Service Decorations, which gives me a chance, on behalf of all Canadians, to confer this honour on people who perform exceptional deeds and activities,” Johnston said in a news release. “Congratulations to all of the recipients, who inspire use to find our passions, to show compassion and to make this a smarter and more caring world.”
Sharon Clark received the honour on behalf of her late husband Tony. Clark and Maskens are credited with creating the country’s first patient-led advocacy and survivorship organization for kidney cancer patients.
Despite suffering from the disease themselves, they helped other overwhelmed patients access information, support and treatments, the release said. They also played a crucial role in the approval of and funding for life-extending drugs, saving hundreds of lives across the country.
“Tony and I were both being treated for kidney cancer in 2006 when we met by chance in a doctor’s waiting room,” Ms. Maskens said. “It wasn’t long before we agreed that there was a significant gap in the health care system. We needed more than medical care. We needed knowledge, advocacy and the support of others who have faced kidney cancer and survived. We formed Kidney Cancer Canada to advocate for access to new treatments, promote research and provide support, information and education to every Canadian touched by kidney cancer.
We’ve accomplished a lot since 2006. But there is still much work to be done. Even though Tony succumbed to kidney cancer in 2010, he left behind a strong patient-led community committed to fulfilling its mission to ensure that patients have a strong voice in decisions affecting their care.”
Kidney Cancer Canada is a donor-supported charity that has grown into a 2,000-member community led by a dedicated Board of Directors and supported by a Medical Advisory Board that includes a number of Canada’s leading kidney cancer specialists.
Photo credits: WO Ronald Duchesne, Rideau Hall © OSGG, 2016
Please contact Kidney Cancer Canada Executive Director Heather Chappell by phone (+1.416.603.0277 Ext. 5) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information or to arrange an interview with Ms. Maskens or a member of Tony Clark’s family.