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The Voice of People With Breast Cancer


& Resources

Breast Cancer Connection Podcast

Breast Cancer Connection is an informative, conversation-based podcast created and hosted by the Canadian Breast Cancer Network (CBCN). Designed for patients and caregivers alike, Breast Cancer Connection breaks down complex terms and topics through meaningful discussion with expert voices. It provides helpful information, resources, and authentic stories for those touched by breast cancer.

NEW Episode 10 - Getting the Most Out of Your Oncology Appointments: Tips from a Medical Oncologist

You may not know where to start when it comes to selecting metastatic breast cancer treatment, or maybe you wish you had a more active role during your appointments but you’re not sure how. In this episode, Dr. Christine Simmons shares tips and tricks on how to establish and leverage your role when it comes to decision-making between yourself and your care teams. This podcast episode was supported by Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc.

About Dr. Christine Simmons
Dr. Christine Simmons is a Medical Oncologist at the British Columbia Cancer Agency and the founder of Women in Cancer.

Helpful links and resources:
Find more information about working with your healthcare team.

Listen now, or on:

NEW Episode 9 - Where to Start? Navigating a Metastatic Breast Cancer Diagnosis

A diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer can feel overwhelming for both patients and their loved ones. In this episode, oncology nurse, Fiona Macdonald, guides us through navigating a metastatic breast cancer diagnosis by answering the question of “where to start.” This episode also features helpful resources, as well as coping strategies and ways to prioritize mental health while living with metastatic breast cancer. 

Other helpful links and resources:

Listen now, or on:

Episode 8 - Understanding Testing in Breast Cancer: Genetic, Genomic, and Biomarkers Explained

Genetic, genomic, or biomarker testing – what does it all mean? In this episode, Dr. Brandon Sheffield explains the key differences between genetic testing, genomic testing, and biomarker testing and how patients can make sense of the terminology to know when and why they are receiving a particular test and how it will inform their diagnosis. 

About Dr. Brandon Sheffield:
Dr. Sheffield is a pathologist, Medical Director of Immuno-histochemistry and Molecular Pathology and Physician Lead, Research at William Osler Health System.

Terms, tools and tips mentioned in this episode:
‘Genetic Testing’ is a type of medical test that identifies changes or mutations in a specific chromosome, gene, or protein. The results of a genetic test can confirm or rule out a suspected genetic illness or help determine a person’s chance of developing and/or passing on a genetic condition, such as some forms of breast cancer. Find more information about Genetic Testing here.

‘Genomic Testing’ looks at all your genes to understand how your body works on a molecular level, while genetic testing looks at a single gene. Genomic Testing in breast cancer looks for biomarkers that can provide information about an individual’s specific tumour. This testing is an important aspect of precision medicine, which can accurately assess if someone will benefit from certain treatments. Find more information about Genomic Testing here.

‘Biomarkers’ are molecules found in blood, bodily fluids or tissues that can indicate a condition or disease. In breast cancer, each person has a unique pattern of biomarkers (or tumour markers) that provide information about the cancer, with some of these biomarkers affecting how certain cancer treatments will work. Types of biomarker tests in breast cancer include estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR), and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2). Find more information here.

Other helpful links and resources:
For more information about genetics and genetic testing including the benefits and risks, check out CBCN’s Questions and Experts Session Guide on Genetics.

To learn more about access to treatment options in breast cancer, speak with your doctor or listen to our episode: Having a Say: How To Navigate Challenges & Barriers in Breast Cancer Care.

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Episode 7 - Having a Say: How to Navigate Challenges & Barriers in Breast Cancer Care

Living through a breast cancer diagnosis while navigating a complex healthcare system can be overwhelming for patients and their loved ones. In this episode, guest expert Niya Chari addresses challenges and barriers faced by patients, while providing tips to help patients be their own advocates throughout their breast cancer experience. This podcast episode was supported by Hoffmann-La Roche Limited.

About Niya Chari:
Niya Chari is the Director of Public Affairs and Health Policy at the Canadian Breast Cancer Network (CBCN).

Terms, tools and tips mentioned in this episode:

‘Drug Access Navigators’ or DANs are healthcare professionals mostly found in cancer clinics who assist patients with access to drugs and treatments as well as funding opportunities to access these treatments. Find more information about Drug Access Navigators here.

‘Patient Support Programs’ or PSPs refer to funding assistance sometimes provided by pharmaceutical manufacturers to patients on specific treatments. PSPs may provide patients with access to a specific drug for free until public or private coverage can be obtained, cover extra medical costs, deliver treatment to patient residences or assist with other services such as drug adherence reminders. For more information on Patient Support Programs, click here.

Click here to access the CBCN’s FinancialNavigator, a tool to aid in finding sources for financial assistance and national/provincial programs to help ease financial impacts.

The BEAT Cancer Coalition is a collaborative group of patient advocates, clinicians, academic centres, diagnostic manufacturers, and pharmaceutical companies with the goal of bringing equitable access to advanced molecular testing for Canadians with cancer. Learn more here.

Other helpful links and resources:
For more information about self-advocating during your breast cancer journey, check out the CBCN’s Advocacy Guides, short booklets compiled on common topics such as screening, accessing genetic testing, and breast cancer surgery decisions.

Listen now, or on:

Episode 6 - Clinical Trials 101: What They Are and What to Consider

Knowing the basics of clinical trials – and how they differ from research studies – is important for understanding your options. In this episode, Dr. Stephen Chia answers common questions, offers guidance on what to consider before deciding to participate, and outlines a ‘day-in-the-life’ experience for those enrolled in a clinical trial. This podcast episode was supported by Hoffmann-La Roche Limited.

This podcast contains scientific information about compounds and uses that are investigational and have not been authorized for sale by Health Canada. The views and opinions expressed by Dr. Chia during this podcast are his own. Patients should consult their physician for any questions they may have regarding breast cancer treatment.

About Dr. Stephen Chia:
Dr. Chia is the head of clinical research at the BC Cancer Research Institute, a medical oncologist at BC Cancer Research – Vancouver, Professor of Medicine within the Department of Medicine at UBC and the Division Head for Medical Oncology, Department of Medicine, UBC.

Helpful links and resources:
For more information on available clinical trials in the area of breast cancer, visit

Check out the CBCN’s three-part series on clinical trials for more resources and in-depth information on this topic:

Listen now, or on:

Episode 5 - Coping with Breast Cancer: Through Diagnosis, Treatment, and Beyond

Coping with the emotional toll of breast cancer – from diagnosis through to treatment and beyond – can be difficult for patients, as well as for their loved ones and caregivers. In this episode, Dr. Karen Fergus discusses the evolving needs of patients throughout their breast cancer journey, helpful resources and coping strategies, confronting mortality, and prioritizing life after cancer. This podcast episode was supported by Hoffmann-La Roche Limited.

About Dr. Karen Fergus:
Dr. Fergus is a clinical health psychologist at the Sunnybrook Odette Cancer Centre in Toronto, researcher, and professor of clinical psychology at York University.

Helpful Links and Resources:
Find more information about coping with the shock of a breast cancer diagnosis and looking after your emotional wellbeing. Several support groups are also available for those seeking peer-to-peer services.

Listen now, or on:

Episode 4 - Working With Your Healthcare Team: Tips and Guidance

Living with breast cancer can mean endless medical appointments and a multi-person healthcare team. In this episode, guest expert Jennifer Newton provides tips and guidance for patients on how best to work with their healthcare team and how to get the most out of their (many) appointments. This podcast episode was supported by Hoffmann-La Roche Limited.

About Jennifer Newton:
Newton is an oncology nurse educator at The Ottawa Hospital, as well as a clinical instructor, simulation facilitator, and course author for Algonquin College’s Centre for Continued and Online Learning program. 

Helpful Links & Resources:
Find more information about working with your healthcare team.

Listen now, or on:

Episode 3 - Breast Cancer and Personalized Care: What You Need To Know

Personalized healthcare is frequently referred to as the ‘future of breast cancer treatment’. In this episode, Dr. Nancy Nixon explains what it is, discusses the role of personalized healthcare in disease management, and talks about how it can help guide treatment decisions. This podcast episode was supported by Hoffmann-La Roche Limited.

About Dr. Nancy Nixon:
Dr. Nancy Nixon is a medical oncologist at Tom Baker Cancer Centre and an Assistant Professor at the University of Calgary.

Helpful Links and Resources:
Find more information on breast cancer treatments and clinical trials.

Listen now, or on:

Episode 2 - Recurrence: Terms, Risks, and Steps for Prevention

What is the likelihood of breast cancer coming back? For many patients, the risk of recurrence is a stressful concern that can significantly impact daily life – even after treatments are complete. Dr. Karen Gelmon discusses risk factors for breast cancer returning and ways to reduce the chances of recurrence. This podcast episode was supported by Hoffman-La Roche Limited.

About Dr. Karen Gelmon:
Dr. Gelmon is a Professor of Medicine at the University of British Columbia and Medical Oncologist at BC Cancer Agency at the Vancouver Cancer Centre.

Helpful Links & Resources:
Find more information on breast cancer treatments, the different types of breast cancer and how to best work with your entire healthcare team.

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Episode 1 - Breast Cancer Stages and Types Explained

Stage I vs. Stage IV, ductal versus tubular – what does it all mean? In this episode, Dr. Sandeep Sehdev explains the terminology behind stages and types of breast cancer and discusses the importance of understanding what they mean for both doctors and patients. This podcast episode was supported by Hoffmann-La Roche Limited.

About Dr. Sandeep Sehdev:
Dr. Sehdev is a medical oncologist and lead of the breast cancer medical oncology group at The Ottawa Hospital Cancer Centre.

Helpful Links and Resources:
Find out more information on breast cancer types and stages.

Listen now, or on:



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