Every year clinicians, researchers, patient advocates and industry members head to Texas to share the latest breakthroughs in breast cancer research. It’s a key conference to learn about new treatments or new standards of care for breast cancer patients. Here’s some of the highlights that have the most impact on patient care today:
This year I was honoured to participate as a patient representative on the steering committee of the Canadian Cancer Research Conference hosted by the Canadian Cancer Research Alliance at the beginning of November.
For Naomi Pickersgill, living with metastatic breast cancer and being confronted with her own mortality has been a “roller coaster of emotions.”
If you are receiving radiation, you’ll know that there are often side effects that range from mildly annoying to severely debilitating. The self-care plan outlined by your medical team can help reduce the redness, pain, and irritation that come with radiation dermatitis.
Many women are living longer with ABC. Finding ways to cope with cancer’s various stresses becomes critical to leading satisfying longer lives.
Adriana Capozzi of Bradford, Ontario, was diagnosed in October 2014 with HER2-positive, Stage III breast cancer. She received four months of chemotherapy and one year of Herceptin, along with a bilateral mastectomy and 25 rounds of radiation.
The Canadian Metastatic Breast Cancer Priority Setting Partnership is a group of physicians, patients, and patient family members with the goal of identifying priorities in research by the people most affected by the disease.
I have never been a fan of roller coasters, too much up and down, made me feel sick. Ironically, my life seems to have become a gigantic roller coaster ride!
For Shelley Scott of Winnipeg, a metastatic breast cancer diagnosis in November 2016 had a silver lining.
“It helped me appreciate the moments of my life rather than worrying about what might be, which is kind of a gift,” she says.
She tells the story of two coworkers she knew who planned a big trip for the time when they both were retired. They never made the trip because one of them died.
In August 2016, Erin Richard of Sydney, Nova Scotia was diagnosed with triple negative metastatic breast cancer. She was only 39 years old.
I learned about “timely and equitable access” to oncology drugs at the Canadian Breast Cancer Network's metastatic breast cancer advocacy training in 2013. I was the first in Canada prescribed Perjeta, days after Health Canada approved the drug. My oncologist shared exciting trial results about dual blockade (using two drugs simultaneously against breast cancer). The trastuzumab emtansine (TDM-1) trial had closed days earlier. Another combo was available but it was “back pocket.” The caveat was that it wasn’t funded but my extended health insurance benefits agreed to pay. On route to my first infusion, I penned a sign: BELIEVE. We did. I had dozens of liver and lymph mets and my liver was failing. After two rounds, I had normal liver enzymes and after three, normal tumour markers.
I was born and raised in Southern Alberta and moved to Calgary to attend university and eventually raise my family here. I am an active senior who enjoys singing with a Calgary performing group, travelling with my husband, watching sports and movies on TV, spending time with my two daughters, who both live in Calgary, keeping in touch with my granddaughter, who now lives in Victoria, and watching my grandson grow up and enjoy his activities.
On July 19, 2011, at the age of 33, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. With a 10-month-old son, I was still glowing with the joy of motherhood—but when a lump that I had been attributing to breastfeeding challenges refused to go away, I decided to see my doctor.
The more researchers and doctors learn about cancer, the more they are beginning to understand that there isn’t one standard approach to treating it but many factors to consider to come up with the best treatment plan for each person. New research is adding to this knowledge and instead of treating a cancer based on its location in the body, clinicians are starting to personalize and improve treatments for individual patients based on genomics.
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.
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.
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 2014, Krista Dumas of Kirkland Lake, Ontario, was shocked to receive a diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer at the age of 33. The cancer was in her liver and L5 vertebrae.