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Breast Cancer Related Lymphedema Part 2: Early Signs, and Treatments

In Part 1 we discussed the risk factors of lymphedema and tips for reducing this risk. Today we’re helping you identify early signs and what treatments are available for lymphedema.

Breast Cancer Related Lymphedema Part 1: Risk Factors

Breast cancer-related lymphedema is abnormal swelling that can develop in the arm, hand, breast, or torso on the side treated for breast cancer where lymph nodes have been removed.  Lymphedema can develop suddenly or gradually. It can happen soon after surgery or can develop months or years later.

My beautiful baby saved my life

I remember sitting in the small room waiting for the doctor to come in.  I was nervous but didn’t think anything was wrong.  The doctor came in and asked how I was.  I gave my usual cheery response that everything was good but added that “it depended on what he was going to tell me…ha ha ha”.  I laughed but my jovial manner quickly subsided when my doctor sat down and the words “it’s not good” came out.  My heart dropped.  He then said, “It’s cancer”.  My heart dropped again.

Living flat is freedom

My name is Alison Thompson and I was diagnosed with breast cancer five years ago.  To give you some background, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer about 15 years ago.  Her cancer was an aggressive form. It spread to her spine and brain, and she passed away about three years after the initial diagnosis. 

Finding Harmony after Breast Reconstruction

I was forty years old, running a successful business, comfortable in my finances, and feeling ready to settle down and start a family. Suddenly, a breast cancer diagnosis upended my sense of contentment and sent me on a journey of chemotherapy, immunotherapy, hormone therapy, a preventative double mastectomy, and, ultimately, reconstructive surgery.

SurgeryGuide is much-needed

For Andrea Sveinbjornson of Regina, the Canadian Breast Cancer Network’s new SurgeryGuide is an invaluable tool, one that she wishes she had when she had to make decisions about breast surgery in 2016.

SurgeryGuide: Helping you understand your surgical options

We all know how integral surgery is for the treatment of breast cancer. It’s usually the first step in treating early stages of the disease which means it can come quickly after diagnosis. The time when you’re still processing your diagnosis is also the time when you’re making some of the most important decisions about your treatment. Trying to make these decisions while learning this new, complicated language called cancer doesn’t make those decisions any easier.

Here’s what you need to know about inflammatory breast cancer

Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) is a rare and aggressive form of the disease that doesn’t get a lot of attention. It’s tough to diagnose because of its unusual symptoms, and it’s more common in young women which makes it particularly tricky since the symptoms mimic that of mastitis, a common breast infection in new moms who breastfeed. Here’s what you need to know:

History of breast cancer treatment

People have known about breast cancer since ancient times.  For most of that time, there were no effective treatments.  However, in the last 120 years, advances in surgical and medical treatments have meant that today, 98 percent of patients with localized breast cancer survive at least five years after diagnosis.  The following timeline shows the development of breast cancer treatments.

Surviving breast cancer and living with lymphedema

January 4, 2010, I became a fly on the wall.  I was at my surgeon’s getting results from my biopsy.  It was supposed to be a quick appointment as the initial needle test of fluid prior to the biopsy was negative for cancer, or so we thought.  I remember hearing the doctor telling me “unfortunately it was cancer….” I felt like I was having an out of body experience. I was there but literally watching over my body and the doctor from a distance.  My world suddenly changed both physically and mentally.

Living like I’m dying

I’m from Ottawa. I was diagnosed de novo in March 2011 with metastatic breast cancer and metastasis to the bone. I am 53 years old. I am a mother, daughter, sister, artist, lesbian, atheist, and gardener.

Fear of recurrence runs high for triple negative breast cancer patient

Montreal resident Kelina feels like a “sitting duck” because although researchers are working hard to find treatments for triple negative breast cancer, there are no targeted therapies available to this cancer, which was diagnosed in December 2015. 

Triple Negative Breast Cancer Day

Triple Negative Breast Cancer Day is an annual global event on March 3. This is a day for a global awareness and grassroots fundraising aimed at helping to eradicate triple-negative breast cancer and celebrating the courage and strength of triple negative breast cancer patients and survivors.

How I regained control of my life when breast cancer made me feel like I had lost it

My journey began on New Year’s Eve 2015, when I noticed a red mark on my right breast.  It wasn’t long before my stomach dropped and I felt my face flush while my throat did that swallowing action reserved for moments just like this.

Overcoming the lasting side effects of breast cancer

Wendie Hayes of Stoney Creek Mountain, Ontario was diagnosed in 2011 with triple negative metaplastic phyllodes breast cancer at the age of 55 after she discovered a lump in her left breast.  Her cancer is a rare type, affecting less than one percent of breast cancer patients, so it took some time to get the right diagnosis. 

Is your swollen arm a sign of lymphedema?

If you have had surgery for breast cancer, you are at risk for lymphedema, a chronic swelling of the arm or another body part due to build-up of fluid. (This fluid, known as lymph, transports white blood cells and cellular debris throughout the body.)  Removal of lymph nodes under the arm during breast cancer surgery or radiation therapy can cause a blockage in the lymphatic system, which causes lymphedema. It can develop shortly after your surgery or many years later.