Friday, 14 September 2012

Brazilian Carnival Ball’s last fundraising gala to take place Saturday


Brazilian Carnival Ball’s last fundraising gala to take place Saturday

Published on Friday September 14, 2012 Barbara Turnbull Life Reporter


After 46 years the sun is setting on the storied Brazilian Carnival Ball.
And though Toronto’s most consistently glitzy fundraiser is ending, efforts, dedicated to the memory of gala founder Anna Maria de Souza, are boosting cancer care in Ontario to new heights.
Saturday marks the last of the high-profile fundraisers — with the gold-painted, bikini-clad beauties, feathered headdresses and samba dancing into the wee hours. Amidst the frivolity, millions of dollars have been pumped into the city’s health, cultural and educational institutions.

“It will be a bittersweet night,” says Ivan de Souza, husband of the late, legendary grande dame of fancy, fun philanthropy. “I’ve done five balls since I lost Anna in 2007, now I am going to turn my efforts to cancer care through the de Souza Institute,” he says.
The Institute was created in 2008 by the provincial government with $15 million, to honour the contribution Anna Maria de Souza began making in 1966. It provides education support, professional development and career counselling to oncology nurses at no cost to them, and has set a new standard in oncology nursing excellence.
The couple learned much about the disease after Anna was diagnosed, de Souza says. They felt specific education about the complexities of the disease was sorely lacking. “Both Anna and I noticed it when she was in Princess Margaret — there was no consistency,” he recalls. “Some (nurses) were very good, some were not. It’s because they didn’t have the training.”
So he’s focusing his efforts on the Institute and elevating oncology nursing to higher standards.
And it’s working.
Since its launch nearly four years ago, 5,000 nurses have taken free courses and workshops, resulting in an almost 80 per cent increase in nurses with specialized certification in oncology and hospice palliative care.
With 27 current courses and more in development, the Institute is providing training in Alberta, as well as other countries like Kuwait and Brazil. Some courses are practical: chemotherapy and biotherapy, pain assessment and management. Others provide equally essential skills: psychosocial care, managing grief and loss. Still others are geared to supporting caregivers and nursing self-preservation.
“Ontario has the highest number of nurses with certification in oncology as a result of our courses,” says Shanna Brisebois, Institute spokesperson.
Nurses also have the option of working towards a designation as a “de Souza Nurse,” signaling the highest expertise in cancer care.
After starting courses in 2009 and getting hooked, Sudbury oncology nurse Nicole Foy achieved that designation. “There’s nothing like it in any other field of nursing,” she notes in a telephone interview.
Foy won a battle with cancer herself 20 years ago, but still found oncology nursing daunting when she began. The courses were a huge help, she says.
“It’s really given me the knowledge and confidence to be an oncology nurse,” Foy says. “I think it makes a big difference to the care I deliver to my patients.”
Foy says being comfortable and capable when delivering news, for example, telling a young person that their treatment is not curative but palliative, can have an enormous effect. “It’s a privilege to help them go through their journey,” she says. “That’s one of the most important things you can do as a cancer nurse.”
Proceeds from this year’s final ball — with more than 1,000 guests expected — will be divided between the de Souza Institute and the Canadian Association of Psychosocial Oncology.
This work makes his life meaningful, de Souza says.
“Before she passed away (Anna) asked me to get more attention to cancer care, so it’s really a natural thing for me to continue her legacy through the de Souza Institute,” he says. “That’s what I hope to spend the rest of my life on.”

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