I was diagnosed in December 2019 at the age of 47. I was healthy, happy and at the height of my career. Just as I said to my husband of 25 years “Life just can’t get any better”, our world came to a grinding halt - “you have breast cancer”.
Breast cancer awareness is about more than pink ribbons. Yes, we said it! It’s more than telling the world that breast cancer merely exists. We all undoubtedly know that it exists, and we likely all know someone touched by breast cancer. And yet, time and again, we hear patients say, “I wish I had known.” Because there is so much about breast cancer that goes unspoken.
Exercise has numerous benefits for individuals with breast cancer. These include a reduction in the severity of side effects of treatment, improved physical and mental health, and an overall sense of improved wellness. In addition, appropriate exercise is safe and plays a key part of care for lymphedema. Lymphedema is an abnormal swelling of the arms, hands, breast, or torso and generally occurs when the lymph node or lymphatic vessels are removed or damaged. Encouraging muscle movement and breathing techniques, during exercise, allows to stimulate the lymphatic system and helps improve lymph flow. Tailored exercise guidelines for cancer survivors have been developed and implemented worldwide. These guidelines recommend aiming for 20 to 60 minutes of aerobic exercise two to three times per week, along with resistance training of all major muscle groups twice a week, with an emphasis on cancer-specific considerations and safety precautions.
On August 15th, 2021, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, leader of the Liberal Party called for a federal election. While there are a many of items and issues to look out for from each parties’ platform, we have dedicated this post to the key takeaways from each party regarding health, healthcare, employment insurance etc. Although this is not an exhaustive list on all the points raised by the parties regarding health and healthcare, we wanted to provide you with a starting point of navigating the 2021 elections as it relates to breast cancer patients.
Breast cancer research is critical as it provides information on the detection, prognosis, treatment, and elimination of the disease. Researchers also continuously engage in studying breast cancer to help us better understand risks associated with breast cancer as well as how breast cancer interferes with other diseases and aspects of life.
Breast cancer research continues to show promising results and advances in the detection and treatment of the disease. More and more, work is being done in this area and studies provide hope to those diagnosed and living with breast cancer. With article headings boasting about new, better, and less invasive ways to treat breast cancer, it is important to understand the actual findings of the study and not get caught up in exciting headlines and summaries. In other cases, you may come across the results of a study from a news article or elsewhere online.
In today’s post, we provide the questions that were sent in and asked during the live session of our Questions and Experts session held in April 2021. In this session, Dr. Sandeep Sehdev, MD, FRCPC, a Medical Oncologist, answered questions about HR-positive breast cancer. In the parentheses, you’ll find the timestamp of where to find the question in the on-demand video.
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.
In today’s post, we provide the questions that were sent in and asked during the live session of our Questions and Experts session held in April 2021. In this session, Dr. Karen Gelmon, MD, FRCPC, a Medical Oncologist, answered questions about HER2-positive breast cancer. In the parentheses, you’ll find the timestamp of where to find the question in the on-demand video.
A genetic counsellor is a health care professional with specialized education, training, and experience in medical genetics and counselling. Genetic counsellors work with both individuals and families that have a medical, family history, or potential risk for an inherited condition. The role of a genetic counsellor is to identify families at risk for genetic conditions, provide information and supportive counselling, coordinate and review testing options, and connect patients/families with appropriate community resources.
It is a well-known fact that exercise has been proven to help with cancer-related fatigue, helping to manage the weakness and pain experienced due to treatment and its side effects, as well as de-conditioning. When you’re in pain, tired and feeling ill, it can be challenging to find the motivation to prioritize activity, but several studies show that performing a combination of strength, aerobic and flexibility exercise can help curb the symptoms that hold back our quality of life.
Throughout the course of a medical diagnosis, members of your health care team will order different laboratory blood tests. Many times, these laboratory blood tests will be repeated throughout the diagnosis, treatment, follow-up, and continuing care. Each medical diagnosis and treatment has specific factors that are required to be monitored. When it comes to the results of these tests and what counts are normal or not, it is important to know that “normal” ranges simply reflect average values in a population. It is common for some tests to be slightly outside of the “normal range” (low or high) without consequence and your clinicians can guide you with respect to their relevance.
Chances are, if you have breast cancer you’ve heard about Tamoxifen. I remember the first time my oncologist talked to me about the chemo-infused hormonal-therapy drug. It was during my weekly check-up when I was still having daily radiation. He explained that because the cancer cells found in my right breast were 95 per cent estrogen and progesterone receptor positive, my body’s natural hormones could attach to the cancer cells and help them grow. Obviously I didn’t want that, so I said yes to the drug without even hesitating.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), breast cancer is the most common form of cancer, with more than 2.2 million cases in 2020. It is estimated that 1 in 12 women will develop breast cancer and it will be the primary cause of death among all other types of cancer in women. However, breast cancer survival has improved significantly since the 1980s due to increased early detection, screening programs, and improved treatment options.
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.
Increasingly, the not-for-profit advocacy world has been questioned regarding industry funding. Many critics believe that any organization that receives funding from the pharmaceutical industry is automatically biased, but this ignores the great pains that health charities often go through to remain unbiased, ethical, and credible. And it certainly does not reflect the patient-centric approach that CBCN takes.
Living through breast cancer is a challenging journey. You will be searching for answers and information about the disease and its treatment; trying to understand how to live positively, and simply reckoning with what your future may look like.
If you are at high risk for developing breast cancer because of family history or because you have the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation, you have several preventative treatments to consider. These options include close surveillance, chemoprevention, and prophylactic mastectomy, with or without breast reconstruction.
When the COVID-19 pandemic was first declared in March 2019, there was a lack of information about the virus. As time went on and more and more research was conducted, we were able to learn more about how the virus worked, who it was infecting, its symptoms and more. One of the pieces of information from this research was that cancer patients were more likely to have adverse outcomes if diagnosed. Although there was not enough evidence to pinpoint which cancers made individuals more susceptible or enough research to definitively say whether past and present patients had the same concerns, the few findings were enough to label individuals diagnosed with cancer as high-risk. Of course, one’s risk level is dependent on many different factors and varies from person to person.
The goal of World Lymphedema Day is to make cures for lymphedema and lymphatic diseases a global priority. It is an annual awareness event with participation in many countries around the world. The Lymphedema Association of Ontario (LAO) has committed to improving the lives of people living with lymphedema since it began in 1996 and has become a more dynamic organization in the last year. World Lymphedema Day offers us an opportunity to continue our advocacy and awareness work. LAO partners with hospitals, our professional members, and patients to bring attention to lymphedema in Ontario.