First ever Best in Breast Care Conference Proves a Success
For Nancy Brinen, Karen Simser and Chrystyne Ramsay, the Best in Breast Care Conference hosted by St. Joseph’s Health Care London was a family outing. Nancy and Karen are sisters. Chrystyne is Karen’s daughter All have had breast cancer.
“We’re always interested in anything we can learn about breast cancer,” says Nancy. “This conference was an opportunity for us to learn together.”
Nancy, of London, and Karen, of Lindsay, were both diagnosed the same year – 2010. Chrystne, of Ottawa, was diagnosed two years ago and continues to undergo treatment.
“This conference is a bonding experience,” adds Chrystyne.
Empowering both doctors and patients was the driving force behind the first annual Best in Breast Care Conference. A new educational event for Southwestern Ontario, the Oct. 15 conference featured leading experts in breast health, breast screening, diagnosis, treatment, reconstructive surgery, research, support, and survivorship. It attracted about 230 attendees from across the region, including family physicians, nurses, surgeons, radiologists, other health care providers and the general public.
Family physicians are the anchor to patient care,” says surgical oncologist Dr. Muriel Brackstone, Medical Director, Breast Surgery, St. Joseph’s Breast Care Program. “They are key to not just providing breast care but providing continuity of care over the long term. Having family physicians as part of our care team is invaluable and reaching out to them with education is our responsibility.”
For patients like Nancy, Karen and Chrystyne, adds Dr. Brackstone, education is power that helps women and men with breast cancer take charge of their health.
The keynote speaker at the conference was Dr. May Lynn Quan from the University of Calgary, a surgical oncologist focused on improving outcomes for young women with breast cancer. She talked about the unique challenges faced by women under age 30 with breast cancer and treatment considerations to improve their outcomes.
Dr. Quan is the principal investigator of the RUBY study, which is creating a prospective Canadian cohort of young women with breast cancer from 32 sites across Canada with the ultimate aim of improving quality of life in this population. Among her findings to date are:
- Most young women with breast cancer waited six weeks to see their doctor after finding a lump because they thought they were too young to have breast cancer so weren’t worried.
- Most had little knowledge about breast cancer.
- On their day of surgery, about half had not decided on the type of surgery they wanted due to the more difficult decision it is for younger women.
- Fertility is an issue that needs to be discussed with young women before they begin treatment for breast cancer.
St. Joseph’s is a top recruiter in Canada for the RUBY study. All young women with breast cancer in London are offered an opportunity to take part.
The Best in Breast Care Conference was supported by ONERUN. For the past four years, the charity has donated funds to St. Joseph’s Breast Care Program through the 100 km run by ONERUN founder Theresa Carriere. Following the overwhelming success of the run, ONERUN is now focusing on education and youth. In introducing the conference Theresa expressed gratitude to all clinicians in the audience for their commitment to caring for and supporting women facing breast cancer. She began her run, she said, to let doctors, nurses and patients know they were not fighting the battle alone.