My Unspoken Hero

As an aspiring naturopathic doctor, I met Filomena in 2012, when I was starting my journey as a healthcare provider supporting cancer patients. I was searching for a place to learn more about the conventional side of oncology. I stumbled upon the CCAC webpage and was impressed with a grassroots support group CCRAN and excited about it potentially becoming a learning opportunity for me.

I reached out to Filomena and was pleasantly surprised that she was willing to allow me the opportunity to volunteer as a support group facilitator. For the first two months, I sat and listened to Filomena (Fil) discuss highlights of research updates on everything colorectal cancer related, from the latest targeted therapies to new radiation treatment techniques to lifestyle factors that can help reduce colorectal cancer risk.

I was awed by Fil’s breadth of knowledge, dedication as well as passion in the work that she does. I had no idea how much patient advocacy was lacking in the world of oncology. I will never forget the first time I emailed her at 10 p.m. on a Saturday evening, regarding a patient case. I had fully expected to hear back from Fil by Monday or Tuesday of the following week. To my surprise, Fil called me right away on my cell phone and wasted no time to delve right into discussing from which doctors the patient needed a second opinion, and what treatment options the patient should discuss with the oncologist. I have since stopped emailing her late at night, as no email to do with a patient ever gets neglected (not even for 12 hours).

CCRAN was founded in the summer of 2006 and incorporated by Filomena in 2019; it is TRULY a patient-focused organization. I now connect each and every one of our colorectal cancer patients with CCRAN such that they would not miss a single piece of information that may be of benefit to help achieve their best possible outcomes.


Lei Gu, N.D

Marsden Centre of Excellence