National Cancer Series: Navigation of the Health Care System | The Ismaili Canada

National Cancer Series: Navigation of the Health Care System

August 3, 2021 | Canada

Navigation of the health care system can, at times, be a daunting challenge for both cancer patients and their families. Understanding the teams involved in diagnosis, management, and survivorship, as well as how to foster the patient / health care provider relationship (which facilitates informed and shared-decision making), is an important process in improving patient-related outcomes.

External supporting agencies and groups outside of the health care system, such as the Canadian Cancer Society as well as regional cancer support groups, are essential adjuncts that can further aid the mental and physical well-being of individuals faced with a cancer diagnosis.

Join us for this sixth and final instalment of the National Cancer Series, where we will discuss optimal ways in which to navigate the health care system as well as how to utilize resources offered by cancer support groups and civil society organizations. This will help improve the physical and mental health well-being outcomes for cancer patients and their families.


Panelist: Shamim Jivani grew up in Rwanda and Belgium. She came to Canada in 1988, where she worked for the Federal Government as a client advisor in the Translation Bureau for 25 years. She has a degree in translation from the University of Brussels and is fluent in English, French, and Spanish.

In 2001, she formed the Ismaili Women’s Cancer Support Group in Vancouver in collaboration with the Women’s Portfolio and Canadian Cancer Society, for which she currently serves as the Coordinator.  As part of a TKN assignment during the Golden Jubilee, Shamim travelled to the AKU Karachi to guide the development of local cancer support groups and was part of a team that trained women to act as peer facilitators.

Shamim serves on the Board of Directors of the Canadian Cancer Society, and has recently joined Inspire Health to promote their wellness program for cancer patients in different communities. She is happily married with 3 children and 2 granddaughters, and currently lives in North Vancouver, where she finds joy in reading and nature walks.

Panelist: Dr. Zia Poonja is medical oncologist at the BC Cancer – Vancouver Island Centre. He is the site team leader for the lung tumour group, and in addition to lung cancer, he also treats breast and oropharyngeal cancers. Alongside his busy clinical practice, he is involved with clinical research as well as medical education. He is currently a Clinical Instructor with the UBC Faculty of Medicine. Dr. Poonja completed his internal medicine residency at the University of Alberta and his medical oncology fellowship at the University of British Columbia.

Panelist: Dr. Khairun Jivani is the National Vice President for Cancer Support at the Canadian Cancer Society. She is currently responsible for overseeing a diverse portfolio of supportive care programs and services across Canada for patients and families impacted with cancer.

Dr. Jivani has a Doctorate in Dental Surgery, a Master’s in Public Health, and an MBA. She has worked in the health care sector nationally and internationally for over two decades. In Canada, she has worked within oncology at provincial and federal levels for over seven years, and has led many programs and services throughout the patient care continuum, from prevention to survivorship and palliative care.

She has also served as the Chairperson for the Planning and Evaluation portfolio and the Project Management Office on the Ismaili Council for BC, and as a member on the provincial and national Health Boards.

Moderator Leila Dawood: After completing a Master's degree in French literature, Leila joined the Aga Khan Academy in Nairobi and started the Department of French language. She subsequently joined a Kenya-based international firm as a French translator before moving to Belgium, where she worked as a personnel assistant. She then moved to Canada in 1981. In Vancouver, she assumed the role of project officer with the newly established Aga Khan Foundation, and then worked as a French teaching assistant with the Coquitlam School Board.

Leila has worked with the Canadian Cancer Society as a peer support individual and was captain of ‘Team Salama’ during the Relay for Life.  She has been a facilitator within the Ismaili Women’s Cancer Support Group since its inception.

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