Wednesday, July 22, 2015


So why would a woman GOHAVE1? Go have what?  A mammogram.  

Well, It would be nice if we could prevent breast cancer, and it’s thought that by making some lifestyle changes, that women can reduce their risk: exercising moderately, maintaining a healthy body weight (especially after menopause), and minimizing alcohol consumption have all been shown to be beneficial. But that’s not enough. For the women who will get breast cancer regardless, we want to find it as early as possible.

Regular screening mammograms can find cancers earlier, when they are most treatable. In fact, in Canada and in many other parts of the world, women who have screening mammography are 40% less likely to die of breast cancer than women who don't. Reduced mortality is an important reason to GOHAVE1, but there are more.

Smaller cancers can be treated with lumpectomy, so women whose cancer is found on a mammogram are less likely to require mastectomy. And they are less likely to need chemotherapy. And women with small cancers can usually have a “sentinel node biopsy,” and avoid extensive lymph node sampling in the armpit. This is hugely beneficial because a not uncommon complication of the bigger surgery is swelling of the arm and hand called lymphedema, which can require life-long management.

Book your mammogram today by calling 1.844.GO.HAVE1.

Some women mistakenly think that if they don't have a family history of breast cancer, that they are not at risk, and therefore don't need to have mammograms. They're wrong! The majority (75-90%) of women who get breast cancer have no family history. The likelihood of being diagnosed with breast cancer for an average-risk woman is about 1 in 8. Having a family history confers a greater-than-average risk, though.

 Breast cancer becomes more common as women get older, and the 10-year risk of getting breast cancer for a 40 year old woman is only 1 in 69. But 1 in 6 breast cancers occurs in women in their forties. And 40% of the years of life saved by mammograms are in women in their forties, so it makes sense to start having regular mammograms at age 40.

Some women say they won’t GOHAVE1 because it hurts. It should, but not unbearably and only briefly. The technologist will reduce the compression if you’re overly uncomfortable. So don’t be shy. Tell her!  Women can take a few seconds of being uncomfortable and maybe even endure a little anxiety about it, but I doubt they want to endure a little cancer.

Mammograms are not perfect; there are false positives and false negatives, like with any test. So if you notice a change in your breasts, you should see a doctor, even if you recently had a negative mammogram.

And you shouldn't panic if you are recalled for additional tests after a screening mammogram (easier said than done...) because most women who are recalled do not have cancer. Radiologists who read mammograms are better-safe-than-sorry folks. We’d rather have you come back; usually for just some extra mammogram pictures, sometimes an ultrasound, etc., just to be more sure everything’s fine.  That’s why, as a radiologist, I believe and I know that you should just GOHAVE1 I do.

Dr. Paula B. Gordon, OBC, MD, FRCPC, FSBI

Dr. Gordon is a Clinical Professor in the Department of Radiology at the University of British Columbia and is Medical Director of the Sadie Diamond Breast Program at BC Women’s Hospital. She is a member of the Order of British Columbia.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Beyond the Lab — Putting a Face to Research

On June 10, 2015 we welcomed over 100 guests to the Museum of Vancouver, for the 3rd annual Beyond the Lab event. Overlooking picturesque English Bay, guests were invited to "speed date" five CBCF funded researchers. Researchers discussed their work, how CBCF has contributed to the successes of their project and opened the conversation up for questions.

It was an enlightening and educational evening spent learning directly what some of our incredible researches are doing behind the closed doors of their labs, something most of us never have the opportunity to do. For example:

Dr. Torsten Nielsen has extensive experience in developing biomarker tests for cancer. His research successes include the development of the PAM50 breast cancer subtyping test to the point of FDA and Health Canada approval.

From left to right, featured researchers who met with guests that night: Dr. Torsten Nielsen, Dr. Sheina Macadam, Dr. Michael Underhill, Dr. Tehmina Masud, Dr. Timothy Beischlag.

He hopes his experience will help to develop new tests that can identify which breast cancer patients might be most likely to benefit from new anticancer immune-activating therapies.

Dr. Sheina Macadam’s CBCF-funded project compared patient-perceived abdominal symptoms and quality of life in women who have undergone different types of abdominally-based breast reconstruction.

Did you know that many breast cancer patients decide to undergo breast reconstruction using abdominal tissue following a mastectomy, which can result in post-operative complications such as abdominal wall weakness or hernia formation? The results of her study are helping to advance surgical techniques, facilitate evidence-based practice and improve the process of shared medical decision-making for breast cancer survivors and surgeons.

You can learn more about our amazing researchers by visiting


At the Beyond the Lab event we were graced with the presence of numerous by-invitation-only partners and sponsors as well a few local celebrities, Mi-Jung Lee from CTV and Pamela Martin the Director of Engagement with the BC Liberal Party, to mention a few, and of course, our region’s founder, Judy Caldwell.

Wrapping up the evening the 2015 CBCF Fellowship and Studentship Grant recipients were awarded and adorned with their pink lab coats. It really was an evening to remember.

Events such as these are made possible in part by our sponsors; we'd like to recognize AstraZeneca as the Supporting Sponsor and Safeway as the Event Sponsor for the 2015 Beyond the Lab.

Abigail Thom
Marketing and Communication Coordinator
Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation - BC/Yukon Region

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Honouring Lina’s Legacy at the Lina’s Dream Golf Day

Lina’s Dream was established in April 2011 in honour and in memory of Lina Vassallo (Di Biase).  Lina was a mother to three young children and an active member in her community of Port Moody.  She was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 34. The disease had gone undetected for two years and was in advanced stages by the time it was diagnosed in 2006.  The incredible love she had for her children, her husband Cateno, family and friends kept her strong the entire time.  Lina passed away on January 6, 2011, at the age of 38.

Lina’s Dream was created as a partnership between Bob Tattle (a close family friend), Robert Bruno (Lina’s brother-in-law), Fatima Di Biase (Lina’s sister), and the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation – BC/Yukon Region (CBCF) to support the early detection of breast cancer.

Lina’s “Dream” was that no other woman would face the challenge she was forced to confront.  She hoped that no other person would go to bed worried about cancer, and that someday, the threat of breast cancer would not cloud the future for her family or any other family.

The Difference Lina’s Dream is Making

The first Lina’s Dream Golf Day was held in July 2011 at Westwood Plateau Golf Course – the 5th annual event will be held on Friday, July 17th, 2015.

Since 2011, this event has raised over $300,000 (includes expected funds raised from this year's event).  These funds have supported the Lina’s Dream Fellowship, which was awarded to Dr. Esta Bovill in 2013.  Dr. Bovill’s research focuses on investigating whether long wait times from diagnosis to a mastectomy – the removal of a breast, with our without reconstruction, in young BRCA-mutation carriers, increase the likelihood that they will develop breast cancer and be subject to psychological stress.  If there is an association of cancer development with wait times, this study will highlight the importance of expeditious treatment for BRCA-mutation carriers and guide decision-making amongst clinicians and policy makers, improving clinical outcomes and reducing breast cancer risk by approximately 90 per cent.  In addition, Lina’s Dream has also generously directed funding to CBCF’s Don’t Forget to Check campaign to help educate women in British Columbia, age 25 – 39 on critical breast health and breast cancer information with the goal of having women check their breasts.

What to Expect at Lina’s Dream Golf Day


The Lina’s Dream Golf Day is incredibly unique, because it’s a fun family affair!  Both adults and children participate in the tournament – with contests and fun-filled activities on the course for everyone.  At the tournament dinner, it’s truly a reunion – with family and friends coming together to celebrate Lina’s life and raise funds in her honour.  The event is a reflection of all that Lina held dear – including her family, friends and her passion for her community.  I personally walk away every year feeling honoured and inspired to be among such a tremendous group of volunteers, sponsors, donors and supporters.

It’s not easy to pull together an event of any kind... and Bob, Rob, Fatima and their close friends and family work incredibly hard to make it a success every year.  They have very busy professional and personal lives, and somehow, they make it look easy.  They astound me with their energy, passion and vision.  Through their efforts, they carry on Lina’s legacy – and are making a difference in the breast cancer landscape.  We greatly appreciate their continued efforts and commitment to CBCF in helping to create a future without breast cancer.

On behalf of the Foundation, I want to send our sincere gratitude to Fatima Di Biase, Rob Bruno and Bob Tattle.  They are amazing people, and we are thankful for their continued partnership.   But, I also want to acknowledge all of the sponsors, donors, volunteers and supporters who are so committed to Lina’s Dream, and making it a reality. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Jennifer Atkinson
Senior Manager, Community Partnerships
Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation – BC/Yukon Region