Trevor Campbell is Focusing on Solutions

The Jack Ady Cancer Centre radiation therapy manager has built a career around facilitating care, fostering a tight-knit team and solving problems.

Photograph of Trevor Campbell at the Galt Museum & Archives in Lethbridge by Jackie Standing.

Trevor Campbell found his way to cancer care well off the beaten path.

Born in Winnipeg, Man., and raised in Saskatoon, Sask., Campbell first pursued a degree in forensic anthropology from the University of Saskatchewan. Looking to settle into a career in the relatively new field, he applied to be an RCMP officer, a requirement for forensic work in the province.

“About the second question on the application was ‘Are you colour blind? And if you are, go to question 56’,” says Campbell, who is, in fact, colour blind.

“And [question 56 is] ‘Thank you for coming, buh-bye’.”

Undeterred, Campbell regrouped and began looking elsewhere. The medical field became a focus. After chatting with his dad, who had recently done some electrical engineering work at the Saskatoon Cancer Centre, he decided to look into radiation therapy.

Shortly after, Campbell moved to Edmonton, Alta., to attend what was then the Alberta Cancer Board’s School of Radiation Therapy in the early ’90s.

More than 25 years later, Campbell now leads the radiation oncology unit at the Jack Ady Cancer Centre in Lethbridge, Alta., where he’s worked to establish the regional cancer centre into a welcoming environment for staff and patients alike.

Facilitating Care

Campbell says no two days are exactly alike at the Jack Ady. As the front-line manager for a staff of about 15, including radiation therapists and clerks, Campbell’s job is largely one of facilitating — making sure his staff has the resources, information and support they need to give patients the care they deserve.

Days begin with a huddle, where the staff give updates on the roughly 35 patients being treated at any given time. From there, Campbell takes meetings in his office while staying available to his staff in every facet. Simply put, Campbell says, “[I try to] be there and help where I can.”

On top of his Jack Ady responsibilities, Campbell is also the radiation therapy medical lead for the Alberta-wide transition to Alberta Health Services Connect Care. The project will see all patient information and best practices migrated to a central online hub for health-care professionals and patients to access.

Although his work can lead to tough conversations, and outcomes can’t always be exactly as the team hopes, Campbell says the environment at the Jack Ady is far from what outsiders may expect.

“People always say it must be depressing to work at a cancer centre,” says Campbell. “And in fact, I’ve stopped arguing with them. I just jokingly say, ‘Yeah, it’s terrible. I must be a saint to work here.’ But the reality is this is a wonderful place. It’s full of laughter; there’s lots of hope.”

Two Decades Of Teamwork

Campbell has played a major role in shaping the Jack Ady’s radiation therapy unit over the past 11 years, though he hasn’t done it alone. Throughout his whole career, Campbell has worked closely with his wife, Kim Campbell, who is a medical dosimetrist by trade.

The two met in Edmonton at the Cross Cancer Institute (CCI), where Trevor had begun working as a radiation therapist following graduation. Twenty-five years of marriage, two cancer centres and three children later, the Campbells still work together, and their daily tradition of meeting for lunch remains intact.

“I’ve always said, once I get sick of going for coffee and lunch with him, I guess the marriage is over. And we still haven’t,” says Kim. “So far, so good — I’m not sick of him yet.”

The choice to move from Edmonton to Lethbridge in 2010 was a joint one. The Jack Ady Cancer Centre was the first in Alberta’s Radiation Therapy Corridor, an initiative focused on offering radiation services to all Albertans closer to home. Today, the Jack Ady, along with Red Deer’s CentralAlberta Cancer Centre and the new Grande Prairie Regional Hospital’s cancer centre, means 92 per cent of Albertans are within 100 kilometres of a radiation therapy clinic.

Kim admits she was hesitant at first — as a born-and-raised Edmontonian, the prospect of moving came as a surprise, though after careful consideration, they decided to head south.

Both Kim and Trevor note creating something new at the Jack Ady was a big draw. The newly constructed centre offered a unique opportunity to take their favourite parts of the CCI with them and help build a work culture from the ground up.

Today, Trevor largely credits Kim with creating a unit they’re proud of. They’ve seen young radiation therapists thrive and have shared countless milestones with their tight-knit staff.

In turn, Kim says the clinic’s success in operation has come mainly from Trevor’s aptitude for finding solutions, no matter the task.

“He always comes up with ideas to make things work,” says Kim. “He never backs down.”

Outside the Jack Ady, Trevor’s can-do spirit persists. Kim notes that Trevor applies his work ethic and process to other commitments, from coaching community sports to his role in helping organize George’s Ride, a motorcycle ride fundraiser he lent a hand in putting together for several years.

Photograph of Trevor and Kim Campbell by Jackie Standing.

The Best Plan Is No Plan

From the CCI to the Jack Ady, Campbell says he’s made a point to never have a long-term plan with his work. Instead, he’s focused on the day-to-day, looking to contribute to the cancer centre, the patients and his staff wherever he can.

Whether it’s providing high-quality care closer to home, securing the funding to get sit-stand desks for his clerks or getting blanket warmers for patients in the radiation unit, finding solutions is something that keeps him going.

“It’s still a work in progress. It’s never ever, ever, ever complete. But we’ve done a lot of what we wanted to do,” says Campbell. “It’s all about what we’ve created.”

As for the colour blindness that led him to the role, Campbell says it hasn’t held him back.

“If people ask me to look at a text and they say, ‘Well, I’ve highlighted it in red,’ then they’re going to have to do that again because I can’t see the difference,” says Campbell of the rare occasions it comes into play.

“We got by,” he says with a smile. “Everybody’s gotten through safely.”

Trevor Campbell’s Career Highlights


Graduated from the Alberta Cancer Board’s (now Alberta Health Services) School of Radiation Therapy


Began career as a full-time radiation therapist at the Cross Cancer Institute


Became a clinical educator for the Cross Cancer Institute’s radiation therapy department


Started at the Jack Ady Cancer Centre as manager of the radiation therapy department upon its opening


Became the radiation therapy provincial lead for the Connect Care project

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