CCS adapting to COVID-19 realities to support Canadians during and after the pandemic
Together, we’re making progress against breast cancer.
Thanks to our generous donors and supporters, investments in cancer research are making a difference. Mortality rates for breast cancer are 44% lower than their peak in the mid-1980s and approximately 87% of people diagnosed with breast cancer are expected to live five years beyond their diagnosis.
Because of you, every year we support tens of thousands of Canadians from communities across the country with compassionate support programs, such as our lodges, transportation and peer support programs, as well as our trusted information available online, on the phone and in your neighbourhood.
With your support, a future without breast cancer is within our reach.
Harnessing the immune system against breast cancer
In his role as a pathologist analyzing and diagnosing breast cancer, Dr Torsten Nielsen is constantly seeing where more progress is needed. And in his joint role as a CCS-funded researcher, he’s helping make this progress a reality.
With funding made possible by our generous donors, Dr Nielsen is studying how the immune system attacks breast cancer tumours and how the tumour cells defend themselves from those attacks. He’s aiming to develop practical clinical tests to identify aggressive subtypes of breast cancer. Recently his team showed how to determine when new drugs may be more successful than conventional drugs in treating advanced breast cancers.
“Fundraising has allowed so much important research to be done on breast cancer,” says Dr Nielsen. “Advances in breast cancer research can help lead the way to breakthroughs in other cancers where we’ve not made quite as much progress.”
Making sure no one faces cancer alone
Thanks to the support of donors, the Canadian Cancer Society offers compassionate support programs and trusted information for people facing cancer and their loved ones.
When Sharon Sandhawalia was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010, she anticipated a few months of treatment and an immediate recovery. “I thought I’d be back to normal, 100%. I was 100% wrong,” she says. “I had no clue what I was in for or what side effects might linger.”
Many cancer patients are overwhelmed by their diagnosis and don’t know where to turn between doctors’ appointments. They appreciate a caring and informed voice. That’s what the Canadian Cancer Society’s Cancer Information Service is all about.
Since 1996, its trained specialists have empowered more than 1 million Canadians with information and helpful resources. The service is available in English, French and 100 other languages.
For Sharon, the service gave her prompt answers about breast reconstruction options. It referred her to the Society’s Peer Match program, which matched her with other women who had undergone similar experiences. She also joined a survivors’ group that gave her peace of mind.
“I would tell anyone facing cancer to get in touch with the Canadian Cancer Society for information and support. The resources are not there to scare you, but to let you know what to expect. That’s better than facing the unknown alone.”
Providing education, awareness and access
‘Knowledge’, ‘confidence’ and ‘empowerment’ are all words Angela Quartly would use to describe CCS’s Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day, or BRA Day. Unfortunately, these words aren’t what Angela would use to describe her own breast reconstruction experience.
Angela had a mastectomy and immediate reconstruction, meaning her decisions for reconstruction had to be made before the surgery.
“I didn’t have any support with regards to breast reconstruction prior to the mastectomy, so I just went with the plastic surgeon’s advice,” says Angela. “It was a very scary experience and I felt powerless over decisions that affected my own body.” Now, Angela is working to make sure that other women do not have to experience the same struggles surrounding breast reconstruction. For the last two years, she’s been on the organizing committee for BRA Day events in Regina.
BRA Day, or Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day, is a CCS program that promotes education, awareness and access for women considering post-mastectomy breast reconstruction. BRA Day events take place across the country and give women the chance to get answers to their reconstruction questions from experts, hear patient stories, connect with women who have been through reconstruction, and see real-life results of breast reconstruction.
“When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I unfortunately never found support in regard to reconstruction until after I had made my many decisions,” says Angela. “It’s so important to provide information and reassurance to women who are making decisions about breast reconstruction.”