CAPhO's 25th Anniversary - A trip down memory lane with Gabriel Gazzé, CAPhO President 2006-2007

Happy 25th Birthday to CAPhO!!

I started working as a pharmacist in oncology in 1994. I remember the days when Leucovorin was a cost issue (I know: I should not be bragging about such a thing…). I remember the arrival of Ondansetron which had a major impact on the quality of life of our patients but was a restricted medication for cost-containment issues. I remember the first days of Filgrastim G-CSF and how clinicians were skeptical and non-believers with regards to its efficacy and its potential impact for patients. I have seen the arrival of monoclonal antibodies in oncology; at the time, we were horrified by the cost and now we marvel at how they have changed the lives of our patients. I have seen the arrival of TKIs and how the concept of targeted therapy went from a theory to become a reality. I have seen the concept of anti-angiogenesis become another therapy added to the other treatments we have to fight cancer. And, more recently we have seen how immunotherapy and checkpoint inhibition have dramatically changed the landscape of how we treat our patients. Imagine what the next 25 years have in store for us and for CAPhO!

Before becoming President of CAPhO in 2006, I was already active within the association: I had been on several National Oncology Pharmacy Symposium (NOPS) organizing committees (now known as the CAPhO Conference) and I was the NCIC Pharmacists Network Steering Committee Representative on the CAPhO Executive. One year, the President-Elect position was vacant and I pondered on applying but was reluctant for fear of it not being the right time. I asked Lynne Nakashima, CAPhO President at the time, what she thought. Lynne simply said: “Gabriel, there never is a right time” (Lynne is always very convincing). I mulled this over for two seconds and said: “OK, I will do it!” And then I realized that I would be following in the footsteps of the greats: Larry Broadfield, Jeff Barnett, Lynne Nakashima and George Dranitsaris. It was quite intimidating, yet so inspiring.

Gabriel Gazzé in the poster hall with Betty Ridell, NOPS 2011
Gabriel Gazzé in the poster hall with Betty Riddell in Quebec City during NOPS 2011

It was a time when we were consolidating the foundations of the association. We were updating the CAPhO by-laws which needed to reflect more what the association was actually doing and where it was heading. Updating the CAPhO Standards of Practice was a way of defining the level of oncology pharmacy practice, which CAPhO was striving for, from a national perspective. Education was a key element for CAPhO at the time. We were developing on-line e-learning modules called HOPE; a CINV module along with a Molecular biology of cancer module. We were trying to find ways to make NOPS more enticing and accessible to more CAPhO members by adding an extra day of conferences and moving it around the country. Prior to that, NOPS was held only in Montreal alternating with Toronto.

I remember the many discussions about revamping the website, getting a new website and modernizing it, making the website bilingual. This was in-line with CAPhO’s need to increase its visibility and its membership. At the same time, we also developed travel grants, research grants and new awards for our members.

Throughout the years, many discussions had taken place on the workload of the CAPhO executive and how to facilitate getting things done. We were struggling; all of us were doing CAPhO related work on the corner of our desks during our very busy days in oncology. We needed help and we found that help in Sea to Sky Meeting and Association Management which is still our management company today. I was the first one to sign a contract with them and they have greatly helped CAPhO become what it is today. Many thanks to all our friends at Sea to Sky!!

Gabriel Gazze
Gabriel Gazzé presenting at NOPS 2011

There is another moment for me of great pride. It was when we held NOPS in Québec city in 2006 at the historical Château Frontenac. I was President of the NOPS Educational Committee for this event and it was the first time in CAPhO history that we had over 300 attendees at one of our events!

During my active years within CAPhO, I have met some fabulous people, I have participated in many wonderful projects, I have been highly implicated in promoting oncology pharmacy education. Being part of the big wonderful CAPhO family has always been the highlight of my career. I wish many more years of success to CAPhO and its awesome membership! Cheers! Santé!