While there have been many advances made in the diagnosing, treatment and management of breast cancer, individuals diagnosed with or living with breast cancer still face issues that are not yet being addressed by the organizations and government bodies that serve them. In addition to this, the public is generally not aware of the day-to-day impacts of a breast cancer diagnosis on individuals and their families.
Last year, we wrote a blogpost on the importance of advocating for yourself as someone with breast cancer. We also shared tips on how to go about becoming an advocate and being a part of your healthcare team. While the information shared is valuable and reflects situations you may find yourself in, we believe that the best way to learn is to hear from people who have been there already.
February 4th is recognized as World Cancer Day, a global initiative led by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) that is focused on awareness, education and action. The goal of this day is to create a world where death from cancer is preventable and where everyone can access proper care and life-saving treatment.
As the year slowly winds down, we look back on some of the many activities and projects that CBCN has participated in, developed, or updated. These efforts reflect our ongoing commitment to that ensure that the voice and perspectives of breast cancer patients are reflected in the work that we do.
Recently, after spending eight hours with abdominal pain so intense I was doubled over, I conceded to my sister Liz, who insisted a trip to the hospital was necessary and crawled downstairs, ordered an Uber, pulled a patterned facemask over my nose and mouth and went. Twelve hours, three hits of morphine and one magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan of my lower abdominal organs later, the emergency room doctor told me a lesion on the right side of my liver was the culprit. Based on the scans I’d had taken of my major organs prior to my breast cancer surgery, the lesion was new and potentially the result of the original tumor and/or the treatment I’d received post-operation. An ultrasound followed, revealing the lesion’s 5cm length by 5cm depth by 5cm width. A second MRI has been scheduled.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines ‘advocate’ as a verb that means “to support or argue for”. ‘Self-advocacy is defined as “the action of representing oneself or one's views or interests”. While the word, advocate might make us think of protests or political signs, that is not always the case. As someone with a breast cancer diagnosis, self-advocacy and being an advocate simply means being a part of your health care team. It means knowing yourself and speaking up for yourself to make sure that your cancer care needs are met. Self-advocacy is part of participatory medicine where “patients are actively working alongside their physicians to choose the best course of cancer treatment.”
I would have never thought that I would be telling my story to a large group of people but today I consider it an honour.
I am a 43-year-old mother of two amazing children, I have been in love with my wonderful Martin for 20 years now and I am a research professional in the health sector. Until August 2018, I was considered a breast cancer survivor. My cancer had been treated in the best way possible. My son was not yet one year old at the time (in 2012). I went through chemotherapy, radiotherapy, hormone therapy, a mastectomy and, finally, a breast reconstruction.
Every year on February 4th, World Cancer Day, we get the opportunity to reflect on the work we’re doing to help reduce the impact of cancer. World Cancer Day, led by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), has an action packed slogan: I Am and I Will. They’ve developed a set of key issues that affects us all. Here’s how CBCN is working to reduce the affects of cancer for Canadians based on these key issues:
Giving Tuesday is coming up on November 27th and we wanted to take this opportunity to highlight some of the amazing work Canadians have done to support the Canadian Breast Cancer Network. The Annual Pink Ribbons Project Gala hosted by the Full Circle Foundation for Wellness is a perfect example of community involvement shaping CBCN’s valuable resources.
Together we can accomplish great things! It’s always amazing to watch how individuals coming together as one united voice can truly make a difference in the lives of others.
This holiday season consider adding CBCN to your list for charitable giving! Here’s what you’ll be supporting.
How valuable is patient input to decision-makers and how can we work to make sure that the patient voice is really being heard? These are just some of the important questions that I and many others gathered to discuss at the annual Breast Cancer Patient Group Forum in Vienna, Austria.
This June I had the opportunity to attend the Europa Donna Metastatic Breast Cancer Advocacy Conference in Italy. The chair of our board, Cathy, was asked to speak and I was happy to join her to share with the group the advocacy that CBCN has been doing in Canada. While most of the participants that attended were representing various organizations, it was interesting learning that many of them were also women who were living with metastatic breast cancer.