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The Voice of People With Breast Cancer


Our Voices Blog

2023: Our Year in Review

2023 was a year of many changes, and CBCN’s work reflects that. In this post, we look back on some of the many activities and projects that we participated in, developed, or updated. With each development, CBCN is committed to ensuring that breast cancer patients and survivors are the driving force of the organization and that their views and concerns inform our priorities.

CBCN published its TNBC Project, which used perspectives and information from focus groups, an advisory committee, and key informant interviews conducted previously in 2022. The Project aimed to increase awareness of triple negative breast cancer within the breast cancer community and the public at large. Key takeaways and findings from this project can help inform future resources, education, healthcare, and advocacy for the TNBC population.

Patient Stories
In 2023 we published 22 patient stories in Our Voices blog, including monthly submissions from writer and editor Adriana Ermter. Topics ranged from mental health and hereditary genetics, to being a parent with cancer, to experiences with chemotherapy side effects. CBCN also contributed posts on knowledge and research-based topics such as adaptive clothing, dating with breast cancer, neutropenia, Indigenous healthcare gaps, and more.

Financial Navigator
Our Financial Navigator database tool was updated with the following program to help breast cancer patients and their families ease the burden of costs associated with a breast cancer diagnosis:

MedSearch updates
CBCN wants to ensure all Canadians have equitable access to breast cancer drug information. Our Medsearch digital database allows patients to access general information on breast cancer drugs in Canada including which provinces publicly fund them, where a drug is in the Health Canada approval process, if there is a manufacturer patient support program available, and drug information monographs. Some of the updates made to MedSearch this past year were:

  • Enhertu (trastuzumab deruxtecan) for HER2+ metastatic breast cancer was approved for reimbursement in Quebec (with condition of reduced price, and supervised use), and British Columbia.
  • Keytruda (pembrolizumab) for TNBC metastatic breast cancer was approved for reimbursement in Quebec (with condition of reduced price, and supervised use).
  • Verzenio (abemaciclib) for early-stage, HER2- and HR+ was approved for reimbursement in Ontario and Quebec.
  • Ogivri (trastuzumab biosimilar) for HER2+ metastatic breast cancer was approved for reimbursement in Quebec.
  • Trodelvy (sacituzumab govitecan) for late-stage TNBC is now funded in British Columbia.

In early 2023, CBCN launched PatientPath, an online tool to help guide breast cancer patients through their diagnosis and provide next steps on their journey. PatientPath tailors resources to the patient’s unique needs by filtering information based on their diagnosis, type, sub-type, and stage of breast cancer. This online tool also takes into consideration psychosocial and demographic factors such as ethnicity, disabilities, urban or rural locations, age, and sexual orientation. A French version of PatientPath will be available in the future.

Health Policy and Advocacy
CBCN connected with breast cancer patients to provide their lived experience for our patient submissions to the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health (CADTH) and L’Institut national d'excellence en santé et services sociaux (INESSS) for the following drugs:

We also regularly submit feedback on various health policies and recommendations that may impact patients, highlighting the need of equity and drug access. Some highlights of feedback to CADTH include a TNBC funding algorithm, a HER2-low provisional funding algorithm, and a CADTH funding algorithm for HR+, HER2-, TNBC, HER2-low. Submissions that we put together were input on Ontario's cancer plan through our membership in CanCertainty, and input to Health Canada on time-limited reimbursement regulations.

Virtual Webinars
CBCN hosted two focused patient education webinars with experts to help address the questions and concerns that breast cancer patients may have regarding advancements in oncological care and research; Early-stage Advancements in Care and mBC Advancements in Care.

Questions and Experts
We added six more Questions & Experts videos to our series, where participants asked questions to experts in nutrition, psychology, surgical oncology, and other areas. These videos join others in the series, which cover topics such as genetic testing and breast imaging.

Patient Advocacy
Through CBCN’s advocacy program, we connect with decision makers, industry stakeholders, and the public to help raise awareness around the needs of those affected by breast cancer and to inform policies that will improve the quality of life for patients. This past year, we continued our efforts to connect patients with drug manufacturers to inform health outcomes and care, and much more. Some highlights of our efforts include:

  • Olaparib letter writing – Outreach to private insurance companies
  • Verzenio access – Connecting patients with manufacturer patient support program
  • Letter writing to Quebec government to call attention to the prescribing inequality for mTNBC patients in Quebec

General Education and Resources
Each year, CBCN puts together or updates educational resources for breast cancer patients. These can take the form of patient magazines, guides, and handbooks. In 2023, we produced two new patient magazines, In the Minority: Young Women and Breast Cancer and Not Just a Patient, Also a Parent.

HERChoice Digital Counselling Tool
With a focus on HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer, this tool was developed to help patients understand their journey, choose their second-line treatment, and continually monitor their progress through the continuation of treatment.

Breast Cancer Connection is the CBCN’s podcast for patients and caregivers, in which we host experts who break down complex topics with meaningful discussions in easy-to-understand terms. We added three more episodes in 2023 on metastatic breast cancer terminology, being newly diagnosed with mBC, and medical appointment advice.

Advocacy Guides and Toolkits
CBCN's Advocacy Guides are short booklets that take a deep dive into a specific topic as a means to provide patients with the knowledge and tools to become part of their breast cancer care team. In 2023, we created three new advocacy guides:

CBCN also created a Precision Oncology Toolkit, which contains all the information needed to understand what precision oncology is, and how important it is for the future of breast cancer treatment and research. The toolkit also contains a detailed advocacy guide.

In order to continue providing the most current information and resources available to the breast cancer community, it is important that we stay on top of the latest news, advancements, and research in oncology. Some of the conferences that CBCN attended or presented, either virtually or in-person, were:

For a more comprehensive roundup for our 2023 efforts in educating and advocacy breast cancer patients and their families, be on the lookout for our upcoming annual report.