Date

The Breast Cancer Society of Canada

Research saves lives!
Breast Cancer Ribbon

Archive for the ‘My Breast Cancer Story’ Category

I know firsthand how important research is – Ruth Ackerman

posted by:

Ruth Ackerman’s story inspires the kind of work the Breast Cancer Society is funding. We hope you will also find inspiration in her story and take part in Giving Tuesday on this November 28th, by giving to life-saving breast cancer research, because Research Matters

Ruth Ackerman became a pharmacist because she always was good at chemistry and math and the curriculum looked interesting. “I have never dreamt of inventing any magical pill,” she says smiling. “But my education helped me enormously in my cancer journey. As both a pharmacist and cancer survivor, I know firsthand how important research is.”

“We need research to gain evidence that something works. Yet, it is equally important to make sure that something does not work in the way we hoped it had to.” Let’s listen to the voice of Ruth, a 17+ year survivor of triple-negative breast cancer, and take part in Giving Tuesday. Because research matters.

Ruth Ackerman - BCSC Giving Tuesday 2017

It all began in 1999, when I asked my family physician if I could go on birth control pills. “You are in your 40s now, and I want you to have a mammogram before you start taking the pills,” she answered. The mammogram was fine. After just a month, however, I found a lump in my breast. “That’s weird,” I thought, but I was not worried much as I had just had a clear mammogram. But when I found a lump in my armpit a couple of months later, I was quickly in the surgeon’s office to have a biopsy.

He did a fine needle aspiration biopsy, showing cancer cells. Because the tumor was large – 4.5 cm –  I underwent a full mastectomy. I had 20 lymph nodes removed as well, and 17 of them had cancer cells. Shortly after that, I was given a diagnosis of invasive ductal carcinoma, stage III. The pathology report showed that the tumor was estrogen-receptor-negative, so I had no hopes for hormonal therapy. My treatment plan included 6 months of chemotherapy and then 7 weeks of radiation. My breast cancer was very aggressive, and they treated it aggressively.

Then and now Ruth had triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) – one of the most dangerous types of the disease, which is negative for estrogen, progesterone, and HER2 receptors. But at that time Ruth did not know yet that her disease is called TNBC. The HER2 testing was not used as routinely then as it is currently. Ruth’s test for HER2 was performed in 2004, and result came back negative. Patients now in the same situation often start their treatment with chemo before having surgery. It has been proven that such a regime shows better results in treating TNBC. Research matters. 

Because my tumor was so aggressive, I was referred to a researcher who explored high-dose chemotherapy with stem cells transplant in breast cancer. At the time, this regimen was showing good results in treating high-risk breast cancer; however, it was a controversial and undeniably toxic treatment modality.

While I was eligible to have the treatment, I was very worried about it. From a pharmacist standpoint, it seemed right, but I did a lot of research and realized that I could die from the treatment itself. And frankly, after 2 rounds of chemotherapy, I didn’t know how I would continue to work at my job if I went through with even more toxic treatment. After much thought, I said, “No, I want to do regular chemo.” Researchers later concluded that stem cell methods work well for blood tumors, but not for solid tumors like breast cancer. The high-dose approach to treating breast cancer was debunked.

Obviously, any chemotherapy may cause various side effects. I remember my physician telling me that he was going to drop my chemo dose to 75% as I had experienced protracted febrile neutropenia and had been hospitalized. After he saw the look on my face, he said, “I don’t want to kill you, Ruth. What I am trying to do here is to cure you.” I think that was the first time he said “cure”. It sounded extremely encouraging.

Ruth Ackerman - BCSC Giving Tuesday 2017

I am aware of how insidious cancer is. When I was diagnosed with cancer a second time, part of me was like “I know this.” It occurred in the same area which had been irradiated in 2000 and getting a proper biopsy proved difficult. After 4 months and 2 biopsies, I was told my new tumor was malignant on Christmas Eve. It was hard. My reaction was, “Ok, so then get it the hell out of me!” The tumour was completely excised 3.5 long months later in 2016, and I hope to never have to face cancer again.

Then and now Breast cancer patients benefit today from more accurate strategies that have been put into clinical practice in recent years. One of them is new radiation regimens that use improved equipment. They cause fewer complications. A lot has been done as well to introduce such methods as trucut biopsy, MRI, PET-CT scan, HER2 routine testing, personalized targeted treatment, etc. Research matters.

What is one of the worst things about having breast cancer in your early 40s, which is when my cancer story happened? You feel pretty strong. You rely on your body and you feel perfectly fine. Breast cancer is tricky because there are no symptoms in the early stages. When you have been told you have “that thing” in your breast it is scary. It shakes your self-confidence. It changes a lot around you.

I like helping people and also value the help of others. I used the support of breast cancer support groups throughout treatment and beyond.  There was a diverse group of many women. Some of them had been 20 years cancer-free. Some had been newly diagnosed or were currently in treatment. But they all were so warmly inviting and supportive. They inspired me to fight and gave me strength and support.

Later, as a Peer Support Volunteer with the Canadian Cancer Society, I provided telephone support to those who had breast cancer. During our conversations I was someone who had “been there” and gone through what they were facing. It is such a wonderful feeling to talk to somebody who is so scared and give them some hope! We would chat about everything. Strikingly, the number one thing we always started with was their question “What did I do to cause this?”  The women said, “I had children, I breastfed them, I don’t smoke, I exercise, and here I have breast cancer. Why?”

Ruth Ackerman - BCSC Giving Tuesday 2017

Researchers know a lot about what may cause breast cancer; however, there is still much that is unknown. I have a history of breast cancer in my family. My two aunts and grand-aunt had breast cancer, and one of my aunts was diagnosed at 42 (the same age I was at diagnosis) and died at 43. It happened very quickly. My grandfather had male breast cancer, which is very rare! My genetic tests showed a negative result though. Subsequently, due to the most recent cancer I had in 2016, I was again referred to do genetic testing and once again it came back negative. Whatever I had, it is not genetic. Although my second cancer was likely caused by the radiation treatments I received in 2000, my first one seemed to be just random. This is what we know now. I believe we are always learning more about the cause of breast cancer since research is constantly evolving.

Then and now In the 1990s, achievements in genetics opened up the prospect for genetic testing to recognize mutations in BRAC genes associated with breast cancer. Ruth underwent her first BRAC test in the early 2000s. In 2016, her geneticist suggested that Ruth redo it because the BRAC test used in 2000 gave many false negatives. Since then, the technology has rapidly improved, and patients can now do more precise genetic testing. Because research matters.

As a pharmacist, I truly believe in research. Research is expensive because researchers must make sure that their research is accurate and always have to check and double-check the data. They need to have a significant cohort of patients to make sure that what they are researching they are getting right. I’ve been disease-free for more than 17 years. Research is a key for cancer patients because it gives them hope.

“Research matters because life is priceless.”
– Ruth Ackerman

Your donation to The Breast Cancer Society of Canada will help fund breast cancer research. Give today, help save lives by supporting life-saving breast cancer research because, Research Matters. Prefer to give using your phone? Text GIVE to 41010 to donate $5 

Ruth’s story was transcribed from interviews conducted by BCSC volunteer
Natalia Mukhina – Health journalist, reporter and cancer research advocate

Natalia Mukhina - Health Journalist

Natalia Mukhina, MA in Health Studies, is a health journalist, reporter and cancer research advocate with a special focus on breast cancer. She is blogging on the up-to-date diagnostic and treatment opportunities, pharmaceutical developments, clinical trials, research methods, and medical advancements in breast cancer. Natalia participated in numerous breast cancer conferences including 18th Patient Advocate Program at 38th San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium. She is a member of The Association of Health Care Journalists (AHCJ).

 

Kathy Steffan – What’s My Breast Cancer Story?

posted by:

Kathy Steefan - BCSC

Throughout my professional career, I have been involved with many non-profilt organizations, both as a board member and as an auditor/advisor. I feel that this is my most significant board involvement because of my personal connection with breast cancer. It involves my own baby girl, Nicole. Actually, she hasn’t been a baby for a long time, except to me.

Nicole’s story starts in 2006, at age 22, when she found a painful lump on her breast. Because she was young, healthy and active, she thought it meant nothing. Over the next 2 years the pain slowly got worse, and several doctors dismissed the lump as a benign cyst, because, of course, she was too young to have cancer. Finally, she had an ultrasound in Toronto and was eventually diagnosed with stage III breast cancer. Nicole started treatment at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto with a plan that included surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Within 7 months of the initial diagnosis Nicole received a clean bill of health. Her annual check-ups were good news for the following seven years.

In early 2015,  Nicole was 31 years old and living in Calgary,  pursuing a successful career in Commercial Real Estate. That Spring, she started to feel pain and discomfort in one of her ribs after any physical activity. All of her doctors, including her original oncologist in Toronto, said it was a broken rib that would need time to heal. When the pain persisted into the Fall, a doctor in Calgary ordered a CT scan. This time, Nicole had stage IV metastatic breast cancer, and it was in her lungs and her bones–which had led to her broken rib.

Nicole on her 33rd Birthday in July 2017 with her fabulous puppy Bobby.

Nicole on her 33rd Birthday in July 2017.

We had expected that she would have to endure chemo, radiation and much more. However, we were pleasantly surprised to learn that because Nicole’s breast cancer is 99% estrogen, the treatment would be three weeks of radiation, followed by ongoing hormone treatment and ovarian suppression. Three months later, all of the tumours were reduced significantly and we continued to hope.

It is now September 2017 and we all feel very fortunate that the treatment is still working. In Nicole’s case, metastatic breast cancer has become a chronic disease that can be treated, which is a huge contrast to what it was in the past. And if the current treatment becomes less effective, there are lots of options.

Notably, the treatment that Nicole is now receiving did not exist in 2009. Her outcomes would have been very different. The advancements in treatment in even the last five to 10 years have been incredible. This is the core of the reason that I am involved in the Breast Cancer Society of Canada (BCSC). Because I am convinced that the research focus and mandate of the (BCSC) will make a difference. I feel confident that my involvement will actually make a difference.

I am encouraged and excited about the hope that exists, and look forward to the future when we finally put a stop to this disease.

Like Kathy Steffan start making a difference today give to life-saving breast research. Learn more about ways you can give at bcsc.ca/donate.

 

“Research is a shared responsibility of participants and investigators”

posted by:

Becky S., 37, calls herself “a girl on a winning streak.” That might sound a bit strange after you learn that she is a breast cancer survivor who has had an extensive history of surgery and chemotherapy. Yet, Becky truly believes that her hormone-sensitive stage II breast cancer, which was diagnosed in 2016, has been a stroke of luck, unlike other forms of the disease. “With my particular type of cancer, I seem to be eligible to participate in a clinical trial to become pregnant. I must take tamoxifen for five years. Hopefully the trial will give me a chance to have a baby safer.”

It has long been thought that pregnancy increases the probability of breast cancer relapse and the appearance of distant metastases, especially for women with estrogen-positive (ER+) disease. Estrogen plays a significant role during pregnancy, but it also provokes ER+ cancer cells growth and can awaken cancer cells that remain in the body even after the heavy treatment.

Clinical Trials Word CloudYet, findings from a multicenter retrospective study show that for women with a history of ER+ breast cancer, pregnancy can be safe. The findings of the study were presented at the 2017 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting by lead study author Dr. Matteo Lambertini (the Jules Bordet Institute in Brussels, Belgium).

Just a year ago, Becky had never heard words like “retrospective study” or “clinical trials”.  Her immersion in the field of breast cancer research unfolded gradually after a casual chat with her co-worker Lizzy at a party last year. Lizzy’s grandmother died of breast cancer many years ago, when tamoxifen was not available. The only option for endocrine therapy for women with ER+ breast cancer was oophorectomy, i.e. ovary removal. This procedure left women unable to have any biological children.

“Lizzy told me – Hey, you keep your ovaries inside, so technically you can have a baby! Science is constantly evolving. Just ask your doctor about the options for you,” recalls Becky. “Lizzy’s words firmly caught my mind. But my husband said pregnancy may be dangerous. He said, ‘I don’t need a child in exchange for your life.’”

Undeterred, Becky began searching for information on pregnancy after breast cancer treatment. She faced a lot of controversial opinions and specific medical terms. “I’ve read through so many specialised websites that I consider myself a kind of a self-taught researcher,” says Becky with a smile. Now, she confidently differentiates randomised controlled studies from, say, meta-analyses and reads a PubMed without having to double-check what a P-value is.

“It is not that overwhelming. Rather, the opposite, in fact. I would recommend all cancer survivors to be aware of what is going on in the field. Since I started learning more about cancer research, I feel calmer and a bit more protected. I see how hard researchers work on a cancer cure and how much has already been done to fight breast cancer. It’s highly supportive.”

Recently, Becky heard about The POSITIVE study that will research breast cancer and pregnancy. This study will evaluate the pregnancy outcomes and safety of interrupting endocrine therapy for young women with endocrine responsive breast cancer who wish to become pregnant. In other words, the goal of this study is to assess whether it is safe for breast cancer survivors to temporarily stop taking their hormone blockers such as tamoxifen and aromatase inhibitors, which are normally recommended for 5-10 years after initial treatment and may be dangerous for a fetus. The study also aims to evaluate different specific indicators related to fertility, pregnancy and breast cancer biology in young women.

Becky S Quote

“This study is exactly what I need,” says Becky. “I believe it is my chance to both become a mother and show other women that hormone-positive breast cancer is no longer a sentence to childlessness.”

Participants will put endocrine therapy on hold for up to two years to enable pregnancy, delivery and breast-feeding. Then, therapy will be resumed. Participants will also be followed for 10 years after enrollment in the study. More information about the POSITIVE study can be found on ClinicalTrials.gov (Registration # NCT02308085).

The good news is that The POSITIVE is currently active in Canada. I met with Becky at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, one of the participating institutions, where she came to learn more about the study. As a curious patient, she has already familiarized herself with all the details available on the Internet and compiled a list of questions to ask a clinical trials professional.

“Clinical trials and research are a shared responsibility of participants and investigators,” says Becky. “Some folks who are aware of my plan told me that I will be a kind of guinea pig, but they are completely wrong. I will become a teammate with a very special role, and hopefully I will become a mother some day despite the breast cancer in my past.

Natalia Mukhina –
Health journalist, reporter and cancer research advocate

Natalia Mukhina - Health Journalist

Natalia Mukhina, MA in Health Studies, is a health journalist, reporter and cancer research advocate with a special focus on breast cancer. She is blogging on the up-to-date diagnostic and treatment opportunities, pharmaceutical developments, clinical trials, research methods, and medical advancements in breast cancer. Natalia participated in numerous breast cancer conferences including 18th Patient Advocate Program at 38th San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium. She is a member of The Association of Health Care Journalists (AHCJ).

Marc Guay – What’s my Breast Cancer Story?

posted by:

Marc GuayMarc Guay sits on the Breast Cancer Society of Canada board of directors, we recently asked him what his cancer story is. This is the story he told us, this is Marc Guay’s cancer story.

It never really occurred to me that it would happen. And happen. And happen.

The first time was twelve years ago when I lost my beautiful sister-in-law, Kim. She was 38 at the time and the shock sent ripples of absolute devastation through our family.

Soon after, I lost my dear friend and colleague, Teri, to the disease as well. She was also 38—an equally devastating tragedy. And if that wasn’t enough—both my mother and another close colleague, Anne-Marie, were both diagnosed and are survivors of breast cancer—an absolute blessing. And it was these two positive outcomes that made me realize that there is hope and that there is a lot I can do to help.

Today, you will not likely find a single person who hasn’t been touched by the disease. In fact, in Canada, breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death and one in 30 Canadian women will unfortunately die from it—startling statistics wouldn’t you agree?

It is for this reason that my family’s mission is to actively support, raise awareness for and donate time and money to help fight it. Advances in medicine today are improving survival rates dramatically, and I strongly believe that both Kim and Teri would still be with us today if science, then, was what it is today. If we can save one mother, one wife, one daughter, sister, family member, friend and colleague, then it’s a fight worth pursuing.

Throughout my career, I have been in positions where I’ve engaged people in initiatives, projects and programs, developed to further the business objectives of my organization. I then decided that I wanted to use those skills to do the same for important causes, such as breast cancer. Having been touched by the disease so many times, I have and continue to be actively involved in the cause—taking part in Walk for Breast Cancer among other things—as well as being actively involved in raising funds to further breast cancer research.

Marc and Kim dancing on the dock at the cottage before she succumbed to the breast cancer.

Marc and Kim dancing on the dock
at the cottage before she succumbed
to the breast cancer.

Today—a retired business executive—I am dedicating a large portion of my time to breast
cancer research, which is why I am now serving on the Breast Cancer Society of Canada board of directors and am chairing its Fund Development Committee. Joining BCSC is very important as it allows me to make a difference and, of course, honour Kim and Teri—whose lives were taken too soon. Simply, breast cancer steals lives and I want that to end.

There is hope. And we can do this. Let’s work together to make it happen.

Like Marc Guay start making a difference today give to life-saving breast research. Learn more about ways you can give on bcsc.ca/donate

Pizza for Research

posted by:

Ethan Williams is six years old  and a breast cancer fundraising hero.The questions!  Oh, the many questions of a six year old.  As a breast cancer researcher with a young child I get the usual barrage of questions about life but with a few tricky additions like “why do people get cancer” and “what is cancer”.  For me, these are just questions to try understand my work, a fact that I am very thankful for. I often find myself having elaborate conversations with my son about my research.  His interest in research stems from the innocence of curiosity and is driven by the fascination of how the body works.  Children always have a unique perspective and it’s neat to see this applied to cancer research. He often comes up with ideas that he gets really excited about, such as “Mom, why don’t we train immune cells to attack the cancer cells like they attack bacteria” or the after-bedtime inquiry “what if we broke the parts of the cancer cells that let them move”?

After all the talks about my work and getting happily brought along to various walks-for-cancer he decided that he wanted to do his own fundraiser for breast cancer research. While a walk or run wasn’t an easy event to organize for his kindergarten class, he went for the next best thing: a pizza fundraiser. Let’s be honest, kids probably like pizza more than a 5km walk or run. I should also mention that he insisted on homemade pizza as “it’s healthier and that’s important”. When I asked him why this was important to him he told me that “when I first went on the breast cancer walk/run (the Breast Cancer Society of Canada Mother’s Day walk, a family tradition for 3 years now) I really liked it, I liked that people were raising money for breast cancer.  I wanted to do more to help so I raised money for breast cancer with my class”. He then continued on “because I know some people out there needed it and I really wanted to help people who have breast cancer and with more money we can do more research and know more about cancer and then we can fix it”.   He truly believes in the power of research and seems to really understand that through research we make new discoveries we can actually help people live better lives.

When the big day arrived, we baked a bunch of pizzas unusually early in the day and delivered them to some very eager kids. I was just hoping everyone would have fun and learn something, but when all was said and done, it turns out they also raised a lot more than we expected. If some kindergarten kids can bring together a fundraiser on a random Thursday, I think it proves any of us can do something towards an important cause that touches so many lives.
Karla Williams

Become a breast cancer fundraising hero like Ethan, make a donation to life-saving breast cancer research today: bcsc.ca/donate


Karla Williams
is a postdoctoral fellow who has published several papers on invadopodia in cancer cells.  Ethan Williams is six years old, he attends kindergarten, helps his mom (Karla) make pizza and is a breast cancer fundraising hero!

Shelley Warner: My cancer story, is not a death sentence

posted by:

We would like you to meet Shelley Warner. Over the next month’s Shelley will be sharing a window in to her cancer story with us. As an introduction to her story, Shelley brings us up to her present days with a little bit of the beginnings to her cancer story.

Shelley Warner, my cancer story:
Breast cancer does not have to be a death sentence

In June of 2015 at the age of 46 I faced every woman’s worst fear and found a lump in my breast. At that point I had lived in the Mississauga area for 8 years and had always struggled to find a family doctor. I got up the next morning and called 9 doctors who all refused to see me. I explained my situation and still they refused. Call number 10 resulted in success. A doctor examined me and sent me for an ultra sound and mammogram. A week later the clinic called and requested I come back for a biopsy. The biopsy indeed confirmed I had breast cancer. The day following my diagnosis I met with my surgeon and was scheduled for surgery 10 days later where I had a lumpectomy and lymph nodes removed. The week following surgery I was sent for a CT and bone scan which is standard for all breast cancer patients. The following week I met with my oncologist for what I thought would be a routine appointment to obtain my schedule for chemotherapy. By this time my doctor had my scan results and he revealed to me that my cancer was Triple Negative metastatic breast cancer, very aggressive, and had already spread to my liver, lung and spine.

Shelley Warner, My cancer story

My oncologist proceeded to tell me that there is no cure for metastatic breast cancer. I remained very calm surprisingly and I looked up at my oncologist and said ok what are we going to do next? How are you going to treat me because I refuse to lie down and die! He told me we can do chemo but it will only shrink the cancer not cure me. I said surely shrinkage is better than letting it grow. Let’s start the chemo tomorrow I said! I looked my doctor straight in the face and I told him to please start telling me what he can do as opposed to what he cannot. With that he referred to his colleagues in the field and came back to me with a plan. I had 6 rounds of chemo every 3 weeks between September 2015 and January 2016. At the end of January, I had a CT scan and all the cancer was clear from my liver, lung and spine. My doctor said I was a miracle to be in remission. I continued to have scans every 3 months and each one clear until August 2016. I then began to suffer from a great deal of back pain in which a bone scan revealed the cancer was back in my bone. My lung and liver are still clear. I had just got to the point where I had a full head of hair again and back I went for 3 more rounds of chemo! I am now on an oral form of chemo called Xeloda. I’m only on my second cycle but so far so good.

Research is very important to me. Yes, without it I would not have the medication I am taking today to allow me a wonderful quality of life. However, my need for research goes beyond that. Metastatic breast cancer currently has no cure. Although I’m doing well on my current medication that could change at any time as cancer can become immune to the chemo. I am a huge advocate for research so that a cure can ultimately be found for this horrible disease. The current medication can buy me several years hopefully but a cure can save me all together.

My message is that metastatic breast cancer does not have to be a death sentence. This is a chronic disease and should be treated as such.  I am extremely active and live a full happy life! I work running my own successful recruitment firm. I travel and have been to Europe twice since my diagnosis and through my treatment. I live every day with the same zest and love of life as I always have.

Shelley Warner.

If you enjoyed this chapter in Shelley’s cancer story you can meet her in person.
Shelley will be one of the speakers at our Mississauga walk location on May 14. 2017.
Visit mothersdaywalk.ca for more information, to register to walk or sponsor someone today.

Shelly recently sat down to speak with Pauline Chan from CTV News to tell her story and why research matters to her. Watch the full story below or on the CTV website

Shelley Warner CTV News

Mark and Rebecca’s Mother’s Day Walk Story – UpDate

posted by:

On National Volunteer Week 2017 we are very excited to feature a post from one of our Ottawa volunteers, Mark and Rebecca Fillier.  They have sent us a recent update to Mark and Rebecca’s Mother’s Day Walk story, from April of last year. Mark and Rebecca’s passion for the cause has led us to expand our outdoor Mother’s Day Walk to include one in Ottawa this year.  Recently Mark and Rebecca were kind enough to send us an update to their story and here it is.

Mark and Rebecca Fillier
Here is an update to our continuing journey with Stage 4 Triple Negative Breast Cancer.

After a very successful 2016 Mother’s Day Walk where I managed to finish my fundraising at $10,000.00 we were excited to have been announced the 2016 Top Fundraiser. We started to look at all of the different options that were available to us with the Cruise fundraising prize. After much debate and discussion we decided that we would like to take the 15 day Trans-Atlantic cruise as our prize.

We did have some further setbacks in June 2016. Rebecca ended up in the hospital for 1 ½ weeks due to a large blood clot that had formed in her heart. This was caused by numerous factors and the initial plan was for open heart surgery. We decided against that route and now on top of all the other medications Rebecca is taking blood thinners are part of her daily routine.

Rebecca had her last chemo treatment on August 26, 2016 and we had the doctor’s blessing to go enjoy our vacation. Her cancer had been responding well to the treatments and she was also managing the sides effects well (well as well as could be expected). It was decided that we would wait until we got home to do a follow up CT scan to see where things stood with the cancer. Now with the okay from the doctor we got everything organized and ready to go on this trip of a lifetime.

This cruise started in Southampton, England and finished in Montreal, Canada, with many amazing stops along the way (France, Guernsey, Ireland, Newfoundland and Quebec). This was the perfect vacation for both of us for many reasons. Rebecca is originally from the United Kingdom and hadn’t been home in over 30 years, and although this trip didn’t exactly get her home to Scotland it did allow her to re-experience a boat trip she had taken at the age of 3.

We flew to England on September 7, 2016 and boarded the Azamara Quest on September 9, 2016. All we can say is wow what an experience. Everything from the time we boarded until landing in Montreal was simply AMAZING. We met some amazing people and tried to experience everything we could during our trip, and boy did we have some memories created. During our 4 day crossing of the Atlantic Ocean Mother Nature decided that Tropical Storm Ian was going to give us some added excitement. The ship had to venture south to avoid heading into the eye of the storm (we almost made it to the Azure’s). Ian did present some rough days at sea with 15 foot waves but everyone managed well and we docked in St John’s Newfoundland as planned. During our stop in St John’s we met up with my (Mark’s) family and we covered as much of Newfoundland as possible in 7 short hours. Our journey continued down the St. Lawrence River until we docked in Montreal on September 23, 2016. Again it was an amazing trip and we wished it wasn’t ending, but it was back to reality for us.

On October 3, 2016, Rebecca had her CT scan and we saw the doctor the following week. The news we received was great. As we had shared previously her cancer had spread to her bones, liver and kidneys but the chemo treatments were doing the job. Everything was stable and had shrunk by 50% so it was decided that Rebecca will stay on a chemo break and give her body a break and let it rebuild.

Rebecca’s chemo break lasted until mid-December when her pain had increased really badly. We contacted the doctor and he ordered a CT scan right away. The scan did not bring us the news we wanted but with her symptoms we had expected bad news anyways. The cancer had started growing again and had now spread into her lungs. So we were headed right back to chemo treatments the same day we saw the doctor. The doctor decided that since the chemo treatments she was on before our cruise did their job we would go right back on the same regimen. Well unfortunately her body has not responded as well this time around and we are now awaiting to see a new doctor with regards to a new trial drug focused on TNB (Triple Negative Breast Cancer). Throughout this last year Rebecca has kept her positive attitude and she continue to work full-time. She is an amazing strong woman and continues to fight her battle with this terrible disease head on.

Now on to the Mother’s Day Walk, my continued support to Rebecca has driven me to become further involved with the Breast Cancer Society of Canada and we now have the 2017 walk planned outdoors. This was a vision I had during the 2016 mall walk. I am working with and alongside of some great people in order to make the 2017 Mother’s Day Walk happen. We have secured a location in Kanata (Walter Baker Park) and we are working hard at making this event a huge success. Personally Rebecca and I have raised our fundraising goal this year to $15,000.00 and I am committed to dying my hair pink again as soon as we reach the $7500 mark. As for the 2017 Ottawa Mother’s Day Walk I have a goal set in my mind to raise $100,000.00 in support of Breast Cancer Research through the Breast Cancer Society of Canada. Together we can make a difference and that is why my support and dedication for this cause will not waiver.

Hope for the Fighters
Peace for the Survivors
Prayers for the Taken

– Mark and Rebecca Fillier

What’s my Breast Cancer Story?

posted by:

Antoine Abugaber of the Breast Cancer Society of Canada shares his story

As a cancer researcher and an international renowned artist, I want to be able to one day say “we have finally found a cure for breast cancer. That really would be an amazing day.”

Antoine Abugaber - Breast Cancer Society of Canada Board Chair

Today, I serve on the BCSC’s board because I want to make a difference. I want to save the lives of breast cancer patients and decided, long ago, to use my scientific knowledge to do so.

So what’s my story? It really isn’t unique. We all have family members, friends, work colleagues and neighbours that are suffering or have suffered from this disease. And we’ve unfortunately lost many of them too. Knowing that 1 in 9 women will likely develop breast cancer in her lifetime—that is a startling statistic that needs to change.

As a researcher, I have been able to contribute to the international clinical development of five breast cancer drugs that have improved the survival rate in thousands of patients around the world and I am humbled by that personal and professional accomplishment. Today, I continue my life journey as the Board Chair of the Breast Cancer Society of Canada—an organization dedicated to patient-focused research that continues to make a significant difference in the lives of people suffering and surviving breast cancer.

BCSC works with organizations, institutions, research groups and individuals in an effort to cure all manifestations of breast cancer. We have made great strides, but there is a lot of work that still needs to be done. Putting an end to breast cancer can only be achieved through research, which is why BCSC is focused on funding breast cancer research and care across Canada.

There is hope. And we can do this. Let’s work together to make it happen.