My life changed forever once I received the phone call no one wants to get early one morning in March 2015. My surgeon was on the other line with the results from my recent biopsy. The lump that was supposed to be only a pesky cyst was indeed cancerous. The surgeon further explained my diagnosis. But the only thing I heard was that I had cancer. My world felt like it was spinning out of control.
If you have had surgery for breast cancer, you are at risk for lymphedema, a chronic swelling of the arm or another body part due to build-up of fluid. (This fluid, known as lymph, transports white blood cells and cellular debris throughout the body.) Removal of lymph nodes under the arm during breast cancer surgery or radiation therapy can cause a blockage in the lymphatic system, which causes lymphedema. It can develop shortly after your surgery or many years later.
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.
Roughly 40% of Canadian women, meaning about 3 million women, have what is known as “dense breasts.” Dense breasts are normal and common, but they also pose cancer risks and screening challenges. Breast density can have a significant impact on cancer detection and the treatment and prognosis of a diagnosed cancer. Many women in Canada are unaware of their breast density, impacting their screening and their ability to be their own breast health advocate. Why is knowing and understanding your breast density so important?
On November 3, 2011, I received a phone call while waiting in line to pick up my sons, 2 and 4, from school. On the other end of the line was my wife’s GP advising me that Kate had a rare and aggressive form of breast cancer. The ensuing months brought bewilderment, fear and anger. I struggled to find a way to express what was happening to our family and to provide care.
For some, returning to work marks an important milestone in moving forward after treatment. You’ve done it, made it through treatment and are on the other side! But returning to work comes with its challenges.
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.
When Kim Bulpitt was diagnosed in March 2016 at age 53 with breast cancer, it wasn’t her first experience with serious illness. The Kitchener, Ontario resident was previously diagnosed in 1979 with kidney disease, in 2008 with Parkinson’s disease, and in 2012 with osteoarthritis resulting in replacement of both knees in 2014.
I had the privilege to attend the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer’s (CPAC) Conference on Optimal Approaches to Cancer Care in Canada. This was the first time that CPAC hosted this conference. Its purpose was to explore 4 key themes to cancer control: initiatives in quality care, economics of high-quality care, improving the quality of cancer diagnosis, and overcoming inertia in the cancer system (why don’t we do what we know works?).
In August 2015 when Tanya Figg of Coaldale, Alberta was six months pregnant with her second child, she was diagnosed with Stage III invasive mammary breast cancer. Her immediate thought was “what did this mean for me and my family?”
If you or your child has a cancer diagnosis and you need childcare in the Greater Hamilton Area of Ontario, Olive Us Care can help.
This new non-profit can provide up to 10 hours per month of free in-home childcare for children under 12 years of age.
Because fatigue is a predominant symptom of cancer, CBCN reached out to Georden Jones for advice on managing this symptom. Georden is a doctoral student in clinical psychology at the University of Ottawa. Her thesis focuses on cancer-related fatigue, in particular on the patient's experience with this symptom and how to implement assessment and interventions programs for cancer-related fatigue. Her thesis project is ongoing and is estimated to end by 2019. If you have any questions concerning her work, please do not hesitate to contact her by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
In 2013, I wrote a “My Life after Breast Cancer”, for CBCN’s Network News Spring 2014. It had been four years since being diagnosed with locally advanced, triple negative breast cancer, three years since the end of treatment. I was cancer-free and well, appreciating my bonus years.
When the nurse phoned me at 8:30 a.m. on December 15, 2015 to ask if I could make it to the hospital the same day, I knew it was serious. Receiving confirmation that same morning that I had breast cancer was devastating.
When I was suddenly diagnosed with breast cancer earlier this year, I really did go into shock the first few weeks. I think it's wrong to say that the diagnosis is the start of your journey. It is by no way a journey. It's a bad trip as far as I'm concerned.
In 2003, I was a happily married, active, stay-at-home mom in Calgary, Alberta, where I was born and raised. I was 46 years old and filled my days going to the gym to work out, volunteering at the school and church, and running an active household. My son was 13 and my daughters were 11 and 8 at the time. I felt healthy and not overly stressed.
“Great to see you back to your normal self,” a friend said to me recently. I nodded, and smiled my best fake smile. It’s been three years since my original diagnosis of breast cancer, two years since the end of treatment, and 18 months since my bilateral mastectomy. I've been bald, radiated, sliced, diced and pieced back together. I am strong. I am happy. But I am nowhere near “back to my normal self.”
I found a lump in my left breast by accident in the summer of 2006, shortly after I had turned 40. After a mammogram and biopsy, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was multicentric DCIS and quite aggressive. In short, this led to a whirlwind treatment and surgery plan that involved chemo, a bilateral mastectomy, radiation, a hysterectomy and eventually reconstruction surgery.
Patricia Stoop, 43, is a wife, mother, and home care occupational therapist living in a small city in British Columbia. In 2011, she found some lumps in her breast and was diagnosed with an aggressive, locally advanced HER-2 breast cancer.