The Ultimate Care is in the Details: Karen Addison’s Cancer Journey

Patient Spotlight

With a Team and Technology That Put the Patient at the Centre, Karen Moved Seamlessly Between Mackenzie Health’s Two Hospitals

Karen Addison’s colon cancer diagnosis came over the phone. 

“It was the middle of COVID and my surgeon, Dr. Weizman, had to call because most medical appointments were virtual,” she says. “I was stunned. I remember just sitting in my chair for 20 minutes after we hung up and thinking, ‘Okay, what do I do now?’” 

“Doing” has always been a part of Karen’s life. As a wife, the mother of two grown children and a long-time executive director of the Character Community Foundation of York Region, she knows how to get things done. “I’m a very organized, Type-A personality,” she says with a smile. “I like to have a sense of control.” 

Over the next few months, Karen would find out first-hand how Mackenzie Health’s two hospitals — and the state-of-the-art technology that enables them — work together to empower patients to take greater ownership over their own wellness. 

Dr. David Weizman’s life-changing phone call came in July 2021, but Karen’s cancer journey began five months earlier when she completed a simple, at-home colon-cancer screening test known as a Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT). 

Karen’s FIT result was positive, so her family physician connected her with Dr. Weizman for a follow-up colonoscopy. During the procedure, he removed two polyps and biopsied another. It was the biopsied polyp that turned out to be cancerous and needed to be surgically removed. 

Before Dr. Weizman would operate though, he ordered a range of tests that would give him deep insight into Karen’s overall health. “I just wanted the cancer out,” she says. “But Dr. Weizman wanted to move more cautiously, and I understood that.” 

“I just wanted the cancer out,” she says. “But Dr. Weizman wanted to move more cautiously, and I understood that.” 

The caution paid off when a pre-operative MRI indicated there was unusual thickening of Karen’s uterine wall. The growth was benign, but Dr. Weizman felt it should be removed anyway. Both surgeries were completed at the same time by Dr. Weizman and Dr. Ou congruently, saving Karen time and worry. 

That kind of patient-focused care is what Mackenzie Health’s two-hospital model is all about. In the lead up to her surgery, Karen moved seamlessly between Mackenzie Richmond Hill Hospital and Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital for a wide range of appointments. 

Along the way, our experienced Patient Care Team made sure she was prepared for every meeting or test. “My husband used to laugh as we got in the car and ask me which site we were going to today, but we were always ready thanks to the Patient Care people.” 

Being able to track her progress on MyChart™ was critically important for Karen. This online portal — which is linked to Mackenzie Health’s award-winning electronic medical records system — allowed her to manage her personal health information on her terms. “With all the different procedures and all the reports that came in, MyChart™ gave me a sense of being part of the process,” she explains. 

Now with her successful surgery behind her, Karen has had a chance to reflect on what it means to be able to get exceptional care so close to home. “I’m one of those people who doesn’t like to go below Steeles Avenue,” she says emphatically. “Being able to do everything 15 minutes from home made all the difference in the world.” 

Of course, Karen is the first to point out that Mackenzie Health’s two hospitals are about much more than convenience. It’s about better patient outcomes through increased access to essential health care. 

“I believe that having increased access to care with Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital’s opening made my experience faster and more seamless,” she explains. “I was very impressed with the coordination between the two hospitals and the technology. It really lets the experts do their jobs.” 

A Doctor Who Goes the Extra Mile is Good Medicine 

As Chief and Medical Director of Mackenzie Health’s Department of Surgery, Dr. David Weizman uses his considerable medical skills to help thousands of patients every year. But it’s his kindness and compassion that often stand out. 

No one knows that better than Karen Addison, who turned to Dr. Weizman for care after a colon cancer diagnosis. “The fear and the unknown are the hardest when you have cancer. But Dr. Weizman really listened to me and answered all my questions,” she explains. 

Keeping patients up to date on their care is also a hallmark of the way Dr. Weizman practices good medicine. “Several times he called me with test results late on a Friday because he didn’t want me to stew about it all weekend,” Karen says. “That kind of thoughtfulness makes a big difference when you’re going through a stressful time.”