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 Dr. Pablo Cano

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Doctor treats people not patients.


Dr. Pablo Cano sees himself as “a poet charged with the task of preserving, protecting, restoring the beauty and wholeness of lives that have been wounded by disease.”

Cano is an exceptional physician and researcher. A humanitarian who has dedicated his career to care for others. A pioneer who has been a guiding light in the evolution of health-care services in Greater Sudbury over the last three decades.

Inspired by his father, a doctor in his native Peru, Cano attended medical school in Lima, and then came to Canada for specialized training in rheumatology and oncology at Toronto's Princess Margaret Hospital.

Those specialties were very much needed in Sudbury in 1977. He and his young family found their new community “very accommodating” and welcoming. After just a month, they felt at home, he says. Cano and his wife, Cecilia, have three sons, and one daughter. Oscar is a teacher, Raul is a firefighter, Patricia is a talented singer and Daniel is an aspiring filmmaker.

The doctor was nominated by the Supportive Care Program staff with the Sudbury Regional Hospital's Regional Cancer Program for a Community Builders Award.

“Despite meeting people at their most vulnerable, Dr. Cano's compassion, understanding and kindness provide a measure of relief from their suffering...For many patients, his involvement in their care provides them with a sense of hope, they say in the nomination letter. ”He chooses to distinguish between the person and the disease in a health-care system that is frequently fast-paced and may overlook a patient's individuality.“

According to nurse Suzanne Benoit, ”Cano's clinic does not run on schedule. If one requires one hour of his time in a 15-minute appointment, he will not rush the visit but give his full attention.“

Mark Hartman, interim vice-president with the Regional Cancer Program, says, “Cano is a pioneer in recognizing the need for palliative care at the end of life for oncology patients...He provided care and compassion to those whose cancer had progressed to a terminal stage for many years before a hospice was even thought of in Sudbury...He is a strong believer that medical care needs to include the whole person including psychosocial, spiritual, as well as physical needs, and demonstrates this through his holistic approach to caring for those in palliative stages of illness.”

Terry MacKenzie, manager of systemic treatment at the Cancer Program, notes that in addition to his oncology practice, Cano has also played a major role in the management of arthritis in the city. He managed a large rheumatology practice, in addition to his oncology practice, until 2004.

“Dr. Cano has been an avid supporter of The Arthritis Society in both its capacities to provide programs and services and also to raise awareness to find a cure,” says Jocelyne Murdoch, an occupational therapist with The Arthritis Society.

Cano remains hopeful and optimistic despite dealing with sickness and death on a daily basis. He says he takes comfort in knowing advances in medical care are curing some people and allowing others to live longer with a better quality of life than they did 30 years ago. He also knows, thanks to the quality of care in Sudbury, everything that could be done for patients, is done.

There are still many challenges ahead for the doctor. “Treating cancer with expensive drugs is not the answer. Prevention is more important,” he says. “Education about lifestyle choices, environmental and genetic factors, and early symptoms is key.”

Cano, who is a member of the Bel Canto Choir, is currently developing and advocating for the establishment of a music-therapy program to further enhance the overall quality of life for cancer patients.

His research contributions include the study of the effects of chloroquine on melanoma and non-melanoma tissue cultures, the therapeutic potential of medicinal floral of the Peruvian Amazon, and circulating immune complexes in Graves' Disease.

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