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Olympic Silver Medalist Rachelle Viinberg Cuts Ribbon to Officially Open OICC

Great Big Sea’s Murray Foster debuted and dedicated his new song “Open Arms” to patients of the OICC; The OICC is a new cancer care and research centre focused on prevention and improving quality of life for those living with cancer.


OTTAWA, October 15, 2012 – The Ottawa Integrative Cancer Centre  held a ribbon cutting ceremony at noon today, to mark the official grand opening of the first integrative cancer care and research centre in Eastern Canada.  Rachelle Viinberg, 2012 Olympic Silver Medalist, Dr. Colin Carrie, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health, and Paul Dewar, MP for Ottawa Centre cut the ribbon. Great Big Sea’s Murray Foster debuted his new song Open Arms, dedicated to the OICC and its patients.

Community leaders, partners and patients were among the ceremonial speakers, including Linda Eagen, President & CEO of the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation, Rabbi Dr. Reuven Bulka, Dr. Shailendra Verma, Medical Oncologist of The Ottawa Hospital, Dr. Bob Bernhardt, President & CEO of the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine, OICC patient Colleen Kanna, and Tamara Levine, OICC patient and published author of But Hope is Longer.

“As the first integrative cancer care and research centre of its kind in Eastern Canada, I am proud of what has been accomplished,” said Parliamentary Secretary of Health, Dr. Colin Carrie, on behalf of the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health.  “The positive impact that Ottawa Integrative Cancer Centre practitioners have on improving the quality of life of those touched by cancer cannot be overstated.”

“Cancer is the leading cause of death in Canada and is a severely debilitating disease that needs better management,” said Dugald Seely, Naturopathic Doctor, Founder & Executive Director of the OICC. “We must put more focus on research for prevention as many cancers are in fact preventable. Furthermore, by integrating complementary, whole-person care into the overall cancer research and health care process, much more can be done to help improve the quality of life for people living with cancer, as well as prevention of recurrence. When complementary cancer care therapies are applied in an integrative manner alongside conventional treatment, patients can better cope with side effects associated with chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. The OICC is committed to bridging the gap between conventional and complementary cancer care and research.”

“It’s about time that we looked at complementary therapies and practitioners as part of the health care process and system,” said Dr. Shailendra Verma, Medical Oncologist of The Ottawa Hospital. “It’s absolutely exciting for me as a practitioner of conventional oncology to have this option for patients to consider.”

Olympic Silver Medalist Rachelle Viinberg Shared Her Mother’s Story at Grand Opening

In the final 18 months leading up to the 2012 Olympics, Rachelle’s mother, June de Jong, was diagnosed with colon cancer. Rachelle and her mother had a pact. She would make the Olympic team, and her mother would be in the stands to watch her. With those two goals in mind, they communicated daily to discuss their journey, as June went through conventional and complementary treatment in Fort Langley, B.C. “The support integrative cancer care gave my mother minimized the side effects of chemotherapy, and I believe helped her go into full remission,” said Rachelle Viinberg, Naturopathic Doctor and Silver Medalist, 2012 Summer Olympic Games. “It has allowed both of us to achieve our goals. I won an Olympic medal, and she was in the stands to watch me.”

Tamara Levine, Newly Published Author of “But Hope is Longer” Shared Her Personal Experience of Straddling both Conventional and Complementary Systems of Care

“I feel so fortunate I was able to encounter what complementary medicine had to offer me very early in my cancer journey,” said OICC Patient and Book Author, Tamara Levine.  “It’s been an incredible journey of straddling both systems, and I feel, getting the most out of what each had to offer.”  Tamara’s healing journey conveyed in But Hope is Longer takes the reader from the devastation of a breast cancer diagnosis through treatment and recovery, with a unique addition of commentary from her “dream team” of health care providers from both traditional and complementary medicine. 

Great Big Sea’s Murray Foster Performed Uplifting Song “Open Arms” about the Healing Environment of the OICC

“It was a privilege to write Open Arms and to dedicate it to the patients of the OICC,” said Murray Foster of Newfoundland Celtic band, Great Big Sea. “Having seen the facility, it seems to me to be long-overdue. Dugald Seely and his team have a passion for the OICC that is contagious.” The music and lyrics of Open Arms convey the overwhelmed feelings of someone having been diagnosed with cancer, lost and out of control, and searching for a place of healing where they can find care for their whole being.


About the OICC

The Ottawa Integrative Cancer Centre (OICC) is the first integrative cancer care and research centre in Eastern Canada. As a not-for-profit, regional centre of the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine, the OICC welcomes patients at any stage and those wishing to prevent cancer or its recurrence. The OICC provides whole-person cancer care to improve the quality of life of those touched by this debilitating disease. The Centre works with patients and physicians, to provide therapeutic programs that decrease side effects and promote health during and after conventional treatment. Through clinical practice, research and education, the OICC strives to assess and reduce possible causes of cancer while exploring innovative integrative treatment approaches. The OICC is committed to bridging the gap between conventional and complementary cancer care and research.

The OICC opened quietly last year while it commenced renovations on the original CJOH-TV news building at 29 Bayswater Avenue at Somerset. With the official grand opening the OICC has nearly tripled the size of its facility in order to meet the needs of a growing number of cancer patients interested in receiving complementary care.  Over the next five years, the OICC will be raising funds to build a centre, four to five times the size of the current facility, expanding the OICC  model of care, with the ultimate goal of impacting the delivery of cancer care across Canada.

Watch the OICC video on YouTube for more information on integrative cancer care and to listen to patients’ stories.


Please visit the OICC website at www.oicc.ca

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Heidi Vincent
Marketing, Communications & Public Relations
Ottawa Integrative Cancer Centre
613-293-3564
hvincent@oicc.ca