CAPhO’s 25th Anniversary – A trip down memory lane with Jeff Barnett, CAPhO President 1999-2001

It is hard to believe that CAPhO is now 25 years old. When I was asked to put down some memories from my time as CAPhO president, it really felt like a long but enjoyable trip into the past. I apologize in advance if some of the dates don’t mesh or if I forget anyone involved in those early days.

As a relatively young (and naïve) pharmacist, I remember my first few meetings with my oncology pharmacy colleagues.  As many of you are aware,  NOPS (the National Oncology Pharmacy Symposium) actually predates CAPhO by several years. I was one of the lucky pharmacists who were invited to attend meetings for pharmacists coinciding with NCIC meetings. This meeting started in 1986 as the Oncology Pharmacists Symposium. The symposium was supported by NCIC and ICI Pharma (ICI Pharma became Astra Zeneca). It was organized by John McBride who was, in essence, the NCIC Clinical Trials Pharmacist. Eventually, through the work of the late Larry Broadfield and Rosemary Bacovsky, this morphed into what was to become NOPS. The first official NOPS symposium was held in 1995 in Toronto. I remember this very well as it was held at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto and coincided with - of all things - an undertakers’ convention.  At this meeting, Larry Broadfield and a few of us discussed the concept for an organization for Oncology Pharmacy. We knew that our nursing colleagues had CANO so we wanted to create something for pharmacy. At the end of that meeting in a taxi, on our way to the airport, Larry and I came up with the acronym – although I have to admit that the brains behind this and the first logo was mostly Larry’s idea. We also found another pharmacist who was very interested, Julie Levesque, who came from the Moncton Hospital. Together we came up with the idea to create an association and establish ourselves by default the first executive.

Jeff Barnett and Larry Broadfield
Larry Broadfield and Jeff Barnett at ISOPP 2002 at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver.

As everyone knows, Larry was a well-known name throughout the Oncology community and served as the very first president. I was president-elect and Julie became our secretary-treasurer. This was the executive and I think our first membership was roughly two dozen. Our membership fee was very nominal - $10-$20. Our first official CAPhO meeting was at NOPS #9 in 1996. I remember going to Larry’s room in the hotel in Toronto and discussing with Larry and Julie the “constitution” and make-up for CAPhO. It was all nicely written on a wine napkin which Julie kindly transcribed onto paper. The early days were challenging as we were trying to increase membership and really make CAPhO the official voice of Oncology Pharmacy. Part of this was speaking with the Canadian Society of Hospitals Pharmacists who were establishing specialty networks at the time – we wanted to ensure that we were not trying to take members away – rather establish a unique organization that could coexist. We also wanted to ensure we had a close liaison with the NCIC Clinical Trials Pharmacist Group so as CAPhO evolved we maintained close ties. Larry was president for three or four years ( I am a bit hazy on this). I took over the role in 1999 at NOPS #12 in Toronto.

Highlights for me include; growing our membership, creating a newsletter, and expanding the executive. To that end, the late Betty Riddell from Saskatoon volunteered to be our secretary and Kim Stefaniuk from Toronto became our education chair. Kim had been very active along with Julia Elia-Pacitti in organizing NOPS.  Thus, we created an executive of five. The main thrust of our activities was the NOPS Symposium and growing CAPhO.

Jeff, Kim and David Suzuki
CAPhO Co-Chairs of ISOPP 2002 pose with David Suzuki, the Opening Plenary speaker

Prior to the creation of CAPhO a new international society for oncology pharmacists came into existence – ISOPP. We were fortunate that a group of us lead again by Larry Broadfield secured the third international symposium for ISOPP in Toronto in 1993. A major highlight in  my role of president CAPhO was working with a dedicated group of several CAPhO members to bid to bring ISOPP VIII to Canada. We were successful in landing the rights to host this symposium in Vancouver in 2002.I co-chaired this conference with Kim Stefaniuk. CAPhO was very much a part of this, lead by the new president George Dranitsaris. The only one negative is that I had previously boasted to ISOPP that Vancouver was the most ideal place to have the conference because where in the world can you ski in the morning and sail in the afternoon. On the very first day of the conference in May it actually snowed!!!!