While Canada has a universal healthcare system, this system does not universally cover prescription drugs, nor does it address out-pocket-costs that many, including breast cancer patients, face when they navigate our healthcare system. Every country that has a universal healthcare system also has universal prescription drug coverage – every country but Canada. This results in unequal access to treatment based on a variety of factors, such as where a person lives, the type of insurance they have, their age, their income, and more. To address this, many have suggested implementing national pharmacare – a universal drug coverage system that is publicly funded. We’ve written on pharmacare in the past, on what it is and why it should matter to breast cancer patients and on where Canada’s federal parties stand on pharmacare.
2020 was eventful, to say the least. It was a year where many had to shift and pivot from their everyday normal. Appointments were cancelled, surgeries were delayed and rescheduled, and patients found themselves having to access their doctors and healthcare team through a screen. Breast cancer patients had to not only worry about their risk of contracting the COVID-19 virus, but they also had to maintain their cancer care as best they could, something that was a challenge both mentally and physically.
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.
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.”
Research on breast cancer, and more specifically, metastatic breast cancer (mBC), is critical in helping us better understand this disease. While widespread knowledge of mBC is still limited, there are studies that look specifically at the detection, prognosis and treatment of this type of breast cancer. Similarly, clinical trials on metastatic breast cancer are crucial in helping researchers improve the current standard of care. Below are some of the latest research and some currently recruiting clinical trials on metastatic breast cancer.
Planning a funeral, especially if it’s your own, might be one of the most painful and challenging tasks that any of us will have to complete. The very idea can be overwhelming, anxiety causing and heartbreaking to even think about. That being said, so many people share that while they dreaded the idea of having to plan their own funeral, they often experienced a tremendous sense of peace and the feeling of having a huge weight lifted off their shoulders after completing this process. Since the period after the death of a loved one is incredibly distressing to families, pre-planning a funeral can relieve them of some of the stress and can also give you peace of mind that your wishes are being carried out.
Scanxiety may not officially be a real word, but the feelings it brings about are real. Very Well Health defines scanxiety as the term used to “describe the anxiety people with cancer feel while waiting for scans”. Regardless of whether the scans are for diagnostic purposes, monitoring treatment, checking recurrence or as a check-up, individuals can experience apprehension before, during, and while waiting for the results of their scans. The apprehension and fear that is felt can range from feeling claustrophobic in the scan machine to imagining the worst-case scenario of the scan results. Many people experience scanxiety so it is important to learn coping techniques that help eliminate the anxiety.
Cancer does not discriminate. It's an often-repeated phrase, used to highlight the prevalence of cancer. The idea behind it is that whether you are young, old, poor, rich, Black, White, we all face an equal risk of being diagnosed with cancer. Unfortunately, like many other aspects of our society, cancer does in fact discriminate. Below we provide 10 research findings on breast cancer specifically that highlight the unequal nature of a breast cancer diagnosis. These studies highlight that breast cancer affects social groups differently and while some of this difference is due to the insidious nature of cancer itself, some of these findings are due to systemic and societal inequalities that become highlighted when we look at health.
Indigenous Traditional Healing is a holistic practice that aims to treat imbalances in a person’s body, mind, emotions, and spirit together.These imbalances are thought to be the cause of illness and to result from ignoring sacred, natural laws. Tradition healing practices are distinct and culturally specific to the people who are practicing them. In Canada, First Nations, Inuit, and Métis view health as a balance of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual elements. These four elements can be impacted by the individual, their family, their community and the environment. For example, connection to the land is an important aspect of healing for the Inuit. Being out on the land and away from one’s community can bring calmness to the body and mind by removing outside influences and in turn promote personal well-being.
As with most other events planned for this year, the ASCO 2020 Conference was rescheduled as a virtual event, originally set to be held in Chicago from May 29th to 31st. The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Conference is a key research conference that brings together clinicians, researchers, and patient advocates from around the world. The conference included over 5,000 abstracts, posters, slides and videos, a day of video broadcasts and around 147 virtual exhibits. While we weren’t able to come together in person this year, ASCO successfully hosted a virtual conference that shared an incredible amount of research that’s relevant to breast cancer patients. Below are some of the highlights.
Individuals diagnosed with cancer have been identified as being at a high-risk of getting seriously ill if they get COVID-19. Data from various studies show that the type of cancer, the stage, the person’s age, health, and other factors contribute to how high-risk a patient may be. In addition to this, the type of treatment a person is receiving and how long their last treatment was, can all impact their outcome. At the same time, a few studies have shown that breast cancer patients fare better, compared to patients with other types of cancers.
In part 1 of our clinical trials series, we explained that clinical trials allow doctors and researchers to test treatments, medical procedures and therapies for various diseases and conditions. In the second part of the series, we debunked 7 common myths on clinical trials. In both parts, we focused on the type of clinical trials most people think of when they hear clinical trials, studies involving drugs. However, clinical trials can study more than just drug treatments or surgeries. According to Clinical Trials Ontario, they can also be conducted to “test devices, genetic therapies, natural health products, psychotherapies, lifestyle and preventive care interventions, and many other things.”
The feeling appears on the heels of a breast cancer diagnosis so quickly I think the doctor delivering the “It is cancer” news should in the same breath say, “For the rest of your life, prepare to surrender any assumptions that you ever held even a modicum of control over your health, you foolish woman.” Certain you’ll never regain your equilibrium, you search desperately for the first thing that hints even slightly as an option to ground and balance you. For many women, that “first thing” is food. Unhealthy, unsustainable dieting habits all start somewhere and unfortunately, fad diets constantly cycle through the breast cancer community.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been particularly concerning and challenging for many cancer patients and their families. As you’ve most likely heard by now, cancer patients and survivors may be at higher risk of complications from COVID-19 because cancer and cancer treatments can contribute to weakened immune systems. This has left many patients with questions on how best to navigate their cancer care, including whether it is safe to continue their treatment, will their health care be de-prioritized by the healthcare system and how they can reduce their risk of contracting the virus.
Women are multi-dimensional and getting a breast cancer diagnosis does not change that. It doesn’t stop mothers from being mothers, daughters from being daughters, sisters from being sisters, etc. While a breast cancer diagnosis may put a pause on things such as your job and careers, some of the multi-dimensional roles and responsibilities that women play in life continues. One of these roles is being a mother. In honor of Mother’s Day, we asked breast cancer patients to share with us the age at which their children were, when they were diagnosed with breast cancer. We wanted to know how breast cancer impacted their life as a mother, and vice versa. Here are just some of their stories.
In part 1 of our blog series on clinical trials, we explained what clinical trials are, why you should participate in them and how to get more information about participating. You may now be familiar with clinical trials but still hesitant about enrolling in one because of certain concerns that you may have. These concerns are valid as many breast cancer patients have these same concerns. However, some of these concerns about clinical trials are ill-informed. In part 2 of our blog series on clinical trials, we debunk some of the most common myths surrounding clinical trials. We hope that this will provide you with some fact-based information to make a more informed decision about whether or not clinical trials are right for you.
Two years ago, I had the sincere pleasure of attending my first oncology nutrition symposium, a biennial event hosted by the Oncology Dietetic Practice Group of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Nutrition science ruled at this event, and “voodoo nutrition” based on conjecture, personal opinion, philosophies, and miracle cures was denied a seat at the table.
Like tai chi and qigong, acupuncture is another form of traditional Chinese medicine that has become a popular therapy used in the cancer community for help with side effects.
Receiving a life-limiting or terminal diagnosis brings with it a lot of difficult decisions that a person never wants to be in the position to make. The hardest of those is choosing to end treatment. Coming to terms with that reality and how it can affect a person’s family is not easy. Some people may consider the option of medical assistance in death. Today we are discussing this relatively new law and how it works in Canada.
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.