Women with breast cancer find strength

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On average, 23 women are diagnosed with breast cancer everyday in Ontario; with approximately 8,500 women being diagnosed every year. According to the 2006 Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation’s Up Front: New Perspectives on Breast Cancer report, women diagnosed with breast cancer feel a lack of support, are unsatisfied with the quality of information they receive, and continue to struggle with the cancer care system. To address this issue, a series of SharingStrength patient forums will be held across Canada to provide answers to questions about negotiating the medical system, searching for credible information online, and the physiological and psychological aspects of breast cancer.

“As physicians, we understand that a breast cancer diagnosis can bring considerable confusion and fear for patients and their families,” said Dr. Robert Rutledge, radiation oncologist, Nova Scotia Cancer Centre, Dalhousie University in Halifax, and SharingStrength presenter. “These national SharingStrength forums will help alleviate the uncertainty many patients feel after a diagnosis and help patients and their families get the information and personal support they need.”

Many newly diagnosed women are turning to the Internet for information. The Internet can be a valuable health resource, but the trouble is much of the medical information online is outdated, misleading or irrelevant to an individual’s personal needs. For example, typing breast cancer into a popular Internet search engine yields over 30 million hits. The recently launched website, www.SharingStrength.ca, will connect women to credible information.

“SharingStrength.ca simplifies the process of finding crucial resources and relevant information while connecting all Canadians affected by breast cancer to trusted organizations that provide support services, including Willow,” says Elaine Brown, executive director, Willow Breast Cancer Support Canada. “The site also provides a venue for the exchange of ideas, information and insights gathered by those who have lived with the disease, resulting in encouragement and emotional support for anyone who accesses it.”

Willow Breast Cancer Support Canada, in partnership with Mount Sinai Hospital will host the first free SharingStrength public forum for Toronto-area women living with breast cancer, their family and friends to help them navigate the complexities of living with this disease. The forum will take place in the Ben Sadowski Auditorium at Mount Sinai Hospital on Wednesday, May 16th from 7:00 – 8:30 p.m. There will also be patient forums held in Hamilton, Montreal, Halifax, and Calgary over the next few months. Please visit www.sharingstrength.ca for more information or call 416-848-1618.