A new program offered through the McGill University Health Centre is providing patients suffering from chronic diseases with a much-needed helping hand.

The peer support group, called My Tool Box, gives people a chance to meet and discuss everything from stress-reduction techniques to managing pain and fatigue.

The free-six week program includes interactive workshops that focus on coping strategies for patients suffering from health conditions such as:


-heart disease




-multiple sclerosis

-muscular dystrophy



-chronic pain

Kathy Camozzi, who suffers from MS, participates in the workshops and serves as a mediator.

Camozzi believes patients need to find ways to deal with their illnesses in order to lead more fulfilling lives.

"If you let it get you down, then you'll feel it (pain) more," she said.

Deo Seemangal, who has diabetes, said the program has had a positive impact on his life.

"Coming to this course, it really made me think and change the way I do things," he said.

First in Canada

My Tool Box is the first program of its kind in Canada. It was the brainchild of Dr. Deborah Radcliffe Branch, who looked at Stanford University research that suggested offering patients weekly peer support decreases depression and hospital visits.

"When you work in a healthcare setting everyday, you really notice the need people have for additional support," she said.

Caregivers benefit from program

The program is not only for patients; it also offers support to their caregivers.

Mervat Atta participates in the workshop, because her husband, Brian Segal, suffers from MS.

"It's been helpful to me as well because I've been able to see other caregivers and see how they cope with their loved ones illness," said Atta.

For more information on My Tool Box, click here.