In 2012, an estimated 22,700 Canadian women were diagnosed with breast cancer; (the most commonly diagnosed cancer among Canadian women). Thanks to improvements in screening, detection and treatment, breast cancer rates have declined in every age group since the mid 1980’s; the survival rate for women is now 88 per cent.
Early detection through mammography saves lives. The Evangelista/Adams Centre for Breast Screening, located at the St. Catharines General Hospital, has screened over 50,000 individuals since opening in 1998. The Centre was named after Canadian rocker Bryan Adams who performed a benefit concert in 1998 and concert host, supermodel Linda Evangelista.
Brian Adams returned to the Garden City in 2008 to perform a sold-out acoustic concert to kick start a fundraising campaign for an $800,000 Digital Mammography Unit. This state-of-the-art unit arrived in 2009 and is the first of its kind in Niagara.
Working like a digital camera, the new mammography machine beams images within seven seconds, which offers quicker diagnosis and greater clarity. Like a digital photo, the brightness and contrast of images can be changed, and certain areas can be magnified to get a better look – luxuries not offered by the old mammography film system. All X-rays go through a computer-aided detection system, offering a second look that might guide doctors to problem areas they may not have noticed otherwise. Images are also inputted onto a computer network that can be easily accessed by doctors inside and outside the hospital.
This unit exposes patients to a lower dose of radiation; provides clinicians with an exceptional image quality – reducing unnecessary recalls by 20 per cent; and is faster and more reliable than the original film unit.
The St. Catharines General Hospital (SCGH) Foundation was able to fund this unit, and other vitally important patient care equipment, thanks to the support of generous organizations, businesses, and community members.
With a desire to raise funds for breast cancer, Sherry Christie chaired the committee for the 1st annual “Niagara Tournament of Hope” golf tournament in 2002. This charity golf tournament, celebrating its 10th anniversary this past June, has raised an incredible $325,000 in support of cancer care in the Niagara Region; $116,750 of these funds have been directed toward the purchase of the Digital Mammography Unit. Sherry credits the success of this tournament to the strong support received from the community. “We’ve been very fortunate”, she says, “We’ve had some great sponsorships, and lots of donations from local businesses.”
In honour of a decade of hope, two beautiful handmade quilts were crafted by the talented Barb Brown – Niagara Tournament of Hope volunteer and breast cancer survivor. One quilt highlights the names of volunteers and sponsors who have been instrumental in the success of this event; the other quilt pays respect to long-time participants. Past participants were given the opportunity to decorate a square – some honoured the memory of friends and family, while others drew pictures depicting love, support, and hope. These quilts demonstrate the passion that Niagara Tournament of Hope organizers, sponsors, participants and volunteers have toward improving health care in Niagara. Patients and health care providers will have the opportunity to view these quilts as they will be displayed proudly in the new regional Walker Family Cancer Centre upon opening in March, 2013.
The generosity of Sherry Christie and her tournament organizing team has meant a great deal to the SCGH Foundation, health care providers, and most importantly our patients. In recognition of their continued support and dedication, an infusion bay area at the new Cancer Centre will be named in the tournaments honour.
For more information on the Digital Mammography Unit or how you can plan an event in support of health care in Niagara, visit: www.scghfoundation.com.