Conference to address surviving breast cancer

The Juravinski Cancer Centre will be hosting a conference at the gorgeous Liuna Station in downtown Hamilton next week — welcoming breast cancer survivors from across the province to learn, network and share the journey of breast cancer survivorship.

“It’s really exiting, the energy in the room,” said co-chair for the Life After Breast Cancer Conference Planning Committee, Linda Learn.

Learn is also a supportive care worker and regional psychosocial oncology lead at the Juravinski Cancer Centre. She says the event is a great way for breast cancer survivors to gather together and connect on the transition from cancer patient to cancer survivor.

“There’s just such a buzz in the room. These women get together and the most amazing thing is the networking that happens. They really develop a fellowship and its something wonderful for them to meet up with other women who are experiencing the same thing they are. They might have just been diagnosed with a metastases of the spine and at the conference meet up with another woman ten years out with the same diagnosis. It’s such an encouraging thing for them to be together and learn from each other’s experience.”

This years conference marks the 8th year the Juravinski Cancer Centre is hosting the event. Last year’s event saw over 350 guests in attendance and Learn said they anticipate a similar crowd for this years event.

Guests will also be treated to shopping with local vendors at the event like Hamilton’s Greta’s Flair, a local boutique that specializes in breast prosthetics and custom made bras to accommodate the reconstructed breast as well as other local vendors who supply supportive garments to breast cancer survivors.

“It’s really an opportunity for us to get these women together and pamper them; treat them to a great meal and a good time as well as learning from our experts,” said Learn.

Workshops held throughout the day include focusing on incorporating nutrition and exercise into life as a breast cancer survivor, as well as dealing with the psycho-social after effects a cancer experience leaves behind.

Kathleen Bell, a certified genetic counsellor will be discussing the importance of genetic counselling in what she calls the “Angelina Jolie Effect”. Last year, actress Jolie made national news when she revealed she underwent a prophylactic double mastectomy after testing positive for the BRCA-1 gene.

Women who test positive for the BRCA-1 gene have an 80% greater chance of developing cancers of the breast, uterus or ovaries than women who have a negative result. Making genetic testing a huge part of the preventative measures or early diagnoses methodologies that has taken breast cancer one step closer to being a “curable” cancer.

Medical oncologist Dr. Janice Giesbrecht will be speaking on how to best manage the long term side effects chemotherapy and radiation brings to breast cancer survivors. Issues ranging from weight gain to changes in vision, and from memory lapses to medically induced menopause are all real everyday issues many breast cancer survivors face daily.

Keynote speaker Dr. Rob Rutledge, a Radiation Oncologist will be sharing with those in attendance how daily habits such as relaxation techniques and positive thinking has been scientifically proven to change the structure and functioning of the brain.

Learn says this is a vital role in survivorship. “A positive outlook absolutely helps manage the anxieties that can arise in the journey of a cancer survivor.”

The Life After Breast Cancer conference will be held on Thursday October 22, 2015 from 8am to 4pm at Liuna Station in downtown Hamilton. It is presented by the Juravinski Cancer Centre.

To register and for additional information, please visit: Cost for the conference is $45 which includes a light breakfast, nutrition breaks and lunch. Those who need financial assistance to attend the day can also call Juravinski at 905-575-6398 to make arrangements.

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