CAPhO's 25th Anniversary - A trip down memory lane with Philip Shaheen, CAPhO President 2018-2020

I’ll confess it feels a bit odd to be asked to write a retrospective piece on my time as CAPhO President to help celebrate our 25th since I’m still in the Past-President role, and still ‘in the thick of it’ trying my best to continue assisting CAPhO to grow and strengthen as an association. I’ll do my best, and I imagine I will eventually look back on my career in the same way someday; I’ll remember the ‘resume stuff’, but I’ll remember my connections to the people the most. I think CAPhO itself is successful on its ‘connections’. They say life ebbs and flows. So has my involvement with CAPhO. I’ve had the honor of hosting CAPhO Conference in my home province of Nova Scotia as President; I’ve been involved as our educational offerings multiplied to include webinars, fundamentals days and specialty workshops outside our conferences, and I’ve had the fortune to lead the development of our newly re-vamped website. But I’ve also had to lead CAPhO through the challenging process of incorporation and had to help navigate through the decision to reschedule our 2020 conference at the early onset of the pandemic. That’s the ‘resume’ stuff and while it has ‘ebbed and flowed it’s all been worthwhile.

Philip Shaheen with Tina Crosbie and Mark Awad
Philip Shaheen with Rick Abbot and Tina Crosbie at the CAPhO Conference 2019 Awards Gala. 

I still recall my first CAPhO Conference in 2011, Quebec City. Some of us remember it was called NOPS back then. I was relatively new to oncology as my practice, with only a few ‘connections’ but looking to meet more people in the specialty and where I might fit in. Luckily, I made the trip to that conference not sitting on a plane; but on a chartered bus that was organized in an effort to both save costs and get as many of us Maritime folks to the conference as possible (budgets were tight even then). By the time we pulled into Quebec however, we had little concept of how much time had actually passed; as we had made professional and personal connections that still carry to this day. So much for: “what happens on the bus; stays on the bus”.

Had it ended there; it would have been good enough. But this theme carried on throughout that conference and every conference since; getting to know other welcoming, like-minded colleagues willing to mentor and share ideas on our profession and where it could go. By the end of that first conference, I was ready and motivated to become more involved with CAPhO. I had been to conferences and connected with others before, but none had been impactful in that way. I suspect MANY of you have a similar story or two from a CAPhO event. It’s those connections we make with each other as passionate oncology pharmacy professionals, as CAPhO members, and in many cases as new found friends that have been the most memorable for me. I’ll treasure that just as much if not more than the pride I’ve felt in the things I’ve been formally involved with for CAPhO…and I have been proud to be involved.

Philip Shaheen mingling with exhibitors at CAPhO Conference 2019 in Halifax
Philip Shaheen mingling with exhibitors at CAPhO Conference 2019 in Halifax. 

I’ll confess I think of my friend Larry Broadfield in these moments. I’d listened to Larry talk with great pride over the years on what CAPhO had become, and I think he would be even more proud of where we are now, and where we are going. Larry was my first connection to CAPhO and was the one who organized that bus charter 10 years ago. That act seems so insignificant when I imagine Larry and the group of similar passionate like-minded colleagues that CONNECTED and CREATED our organization 25 years ago in the first place. It is a remarkable achievement. That passion project started because of the connections THEY had 25 years ago, and CAPhO continues to grow and thrive because of the continued and new connections WE have. It’s all of that collectively that we celebrate this year. Congratulations to CAPhO on this 25th, to everyone who has connected to this organization during those years, and to all of those who will connect with it in the years to come. Be safe and well.