Today’s member profile comes from Ms. Candace Vilhan B.A Psych., E.C.E, C.B.E Behaviourist, Certified Bariatric Educator, and Weight Management Clinic & Bariatric Centre of Excellence at The Ottawa Hospital, Ottawa, Ontario. Ms. Vilhan sits on the Clinical Adults Committee .
My name is Candace Vilhan and I am a passionate advocate for those living with obesity. I am also a Certified Bariatric Educator and work in bariatrics. I have been involved with Obesity Canada for several years and find that the combination of my professional experience and personal lived experience with the disease has given me a valuable perspective to approach my advocacy efforts.
I work at a large bariatric center on a mental health team supporting medical and surgical patients pre- and post-bariatric surgery. As a mental health care provider specializing in the field of bariatrics for 20 years, I have seen firsthand the unimaginable challenges and discrimination patients experience because of their size. Prejudice from loved ones, medical professionals, strangers, and at times blaming themselves for their chronic disease make managing obesity very difficult.
One of my core values is extending compassion through listening and working with clients to overcome these challenges. Having people share authentically their lives and experiences makes my job very compelling and rewarding as every day is different.
Hearing these stories fueled my desire to advocate for those living with obesity so that we can be treated with the dignity and respect we deserve. As a volunteer member of the Public Engagement Committee at Obesity Canada, I have been involved in a number of activities. I am currently reviewing education materials for physicians and allied health providers from both a professional lens and the perspective of someone living with obesity. I strongly believe we need to have respect for every BODY size and that the patient’s voice needs to be central to effective healthcare. Change starts with an open mind, listening, collaboration, willingness to learn, and most importantly respect.