Monday, December 07, 2015

CBCF Proudly Awards a Total of $2.2 Million Through Its Annual Grant Programs

The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (CBCF) is the largest charitable funder of breast cancer research in Canada. Since 1986, CBCF has invested over $300 million to fund more than 690 relevant and innovative research projects that have led to progress in breast cancer prevention, earlier detection, diagnosis, treatment and care. Breast cancer mortality rates have decreased by 44% since their peak in 1986 in large part due to research advancements.

2015 Fellowship Recipients

As we come to the end of 2015, we are pleased to announce that $2.2 million was awarded in grants this past year in British Columbia, thanks to the ongoing support and generosity of our donors. Please join CBCF in recognizing the talented researchers and community groups who were the recipients of these:

  • Five Operating Grants to Principal Investigators – $1M
  • Six Fellowships* – $458K
  • Four Studentships – $24K
  • Five Community Health Grants – $353K 
  • Four Small Initiative Grants – $22K
  • 24 Dragon Boat Team Grants – $58K
  • A multi-year partnership with Shoppers Drug Mart and the Screening Mammography Program of BC to fund three mobile digital mammography coaches. The first grant of $300K was awarded, with one coach unveiled in February 2015. The remaining two are expected to launch in February 2016.
Team at Eagle Ridge Hospital Foundation granted for their Areola Tattoo Clinic

CBCF’s grant applications undergo a rigorous peer-review by a panel of experts to ensure that every donor dollar supports the most promising breast cancer research and community projects.

It is worth noting that the breast cancer mortality rate in Canada is the lowest it has been since 1950. The 5-year survival rate in Canada is 88% and in BC is 91.8%. These statistics are significant, and the Foundation believes that investing in research and community health grants has contributed to this progress. We look forward to further advancements in 2016.

Learn more about CBCF and our fiscal 2015 highlights by visiting the CBCF Community Report:

*The CBCF Fellowship program is proudly funded by the Nite of Hope™.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

On Tour with CBCF

It’s no secret that I love my job. Don’t get me wrong, I’d happily be looking for other work if they found a cure for cancer tomorrow or if I was able to eradicate this disease myself, but until that time, helping to share information and empower people to know more and do better when it comes to their breast health is the next best thing.

Don’t Forget to Check on Tour supported by RBC Foundation is a campaign I manage and its goal is to reach young women and men, age 18-25, with our breast health information and risk reduction messaging. The campaign takes place in September and October when we visit post-secondary campuses throughout British Columbia as they’re getting into their fall semester after the summer break.

One of the reasons why I enjoy this campaign as much as I do is because of how receptive the students are. It is our opportunity to interact with them in a casual, fun way, while sharing important breast health and risk reduction messaging.  We hand out materials that are engaging and practical and we use our breast health trivia wheel for conversation and information sharing. It is hard nowadays to meet someone who hasn’t been affected  by breast cancer in some way, and these young students are no exception. Everyone has a story, but not everyone has all the facts. That is where we come in. My favourite memories on campus are the, as Oprah calls them, “a-ha” moments. Those moments when we’ve shared something they didn’t know before or helped to clear up a misconception they had.

Many post-secondary students are away from home for the first time when they go to college/university and the risk reduction messaging we share informs them that by adopting behaviours such as being active, eating well, limiting alcohol, not smoking, and knowing how their breasts normally look and feel, they can greatly affect their breast health. I am not naive enough to think that we can influence all of their behaviours, but I do believe that we arm them with the knowledge (and the “why” behind it) to make better informed decisions – that right there is one of the many reasons I love my job.

Knowledge is power, right?

Amanda McNally
Community Relations Specialist

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Walk the Walk: CBCF Team Fundraises BIG for the 2015 CIBC Run for the Cure

The old adage ‘give where you live’ couldn’t be more appropriate for the strength of fundraising power generated by my admirable and passionate colleagues here at the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. To date, our staff/friends and family team has raised more than $23,000 for the 2015 Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC Run for the Cure and the dollars are still coming from offline donations! 

I cannot express how grateful and humbled I am by the interest, engagement and fun competitive spirit demonstrated by my team members who represent all departments of our 26 member strong team, here in the office in Vancouver. September and October represent the largest revenue generating months by the Foundation and our staff are working most intensely from August to November for the lead up and follow up to these busy activity months, especially in October – Breast Cancer Action Month. Yet with all this work activity, everyone was hard at work fundraising for our signature event.

As the CIBC Run for the Cure Development Manager, my primary role is to develop and execute an overall fundraising and stewardship plan to support our existing participants and donors in nine Run sites across the province and grow revenue by prospecting new teams and individuals. This plan is implemented not only by members of the Run team, but most importantly by dedicated and committed volunteer fundraising Run Directors and coordinators across the province who provide a local connection to their participants. We could not implement the stewardship we do without our amazing and hard working volunteers who check in regularly, but respectfully, by phone, email and sometimes in person with top fundraising team captains and individuals.

Abigail Thom (Left) and me at the
CIBC Run for the Cure in Kelowna
A sincere thank you to our top fundraisers across the province for the outstanding fundraising they demonstrated individually and collectively. We gratefully acknowledge the top individuals and teams fundraiser for the 2015 event. Our top fundraisers consistently account for approximately 65% of the funds raised in this province. Without the hard work of these top fundraisers, we could not fund the research and education programs we do. Thank you for your active and engaged participation. 

The stewardship the volunteers and I provided to individuals and teams is the same support I applied to the CBCF staff this year.  You know what? – it not only worked, but it exceeded my expectations. We set a team goal of raising $10,000 so we have easily doubled this! How did we do it? How did we knock our fundraising out of the park?

I truly believe it is based on the strength of the “ask” and the connections that every single staff person has to the breast cancer cause. Everyone’s high level of dedication and their passion for their roles here at CBCF transcended to their immediate networks of family, friends, industry peers, neighbours, etc. People give to people. Our CBCF team members reached out far and wide to their individual networks and they shared their personal reasons for why they raise money for the CIBC Run for the Cure.  They shared connections to the cause, be it they had a friend or family member affected by the disease or if they were inspired by a CBCF Local Hero.

I feel blessed to be involved in fund development work that is so meaningful to me and to have the privilege to interact and engage daily with so many inspiring women who are either going through treatment, are living with breast cancer, or are dedicated to the cause in memory of someone dear. But on top of that, I work amongst a team of intelligent, hard-working, empathetic, energetic and creative women who not only talk the talk, but walk the walk every single day. Thank you to everyone on the team for illustrating the power of collective team fundraising and inspiring me even more in what I do.

Lisa Capitanio
CIBC Run for the Cure Development Manager
Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation

Sunday, October 25, 2015

What the Shoppers Drug Mart Holiday Beauty Gala Means to me

Working at the Shoppers Drug Mart in the Jim Pattison Outpatient Care and Surgery Centre, I meet patients every shift that are affected by breast cancer. Seeing these brave women has hit home with me that breast cancer really can affect anyone. Taking part in the Holiday Beauty Gala is another chance to support those women. My team is thrilled to be able to make a difference!

Being a Shoppers Drug Mart Associate Ambassador at store #255, Langley Crossing, I share the commitment that the company has made to improve the health of all Canadian women in body, mind and spirit. Doing my part to help our community is a core value that I hold dear. I cannot think of a better way to help improve the early diagnosis of breast cancer throughout our province than helping mammography services be made available to remote locations of British Columbia. This is why the partnership of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation and Shoppers Drug Mart is so complementary and valuable.

In my very first week as Associate-Owner of Shoppers Drug Mart, Langley Crossing, my team approached me about holding a barbeque to help raise funds for CBCF. So we organized one to coincide with our Beauty Gala and raised over $1,500 that day! I realized then that my team was dedicated to making a difference. This year, we have a poster up near our staff room and are using it to encourage employees to post about the Holiday Beauty Gala over their personal social media pages. We are tracking the ticket sales and offering prizes to those who sell the most tickets.

So what exactly does the upcoming Holiday Beauty Gala on Saturday, November 7 mean to me? 

It is an event where women can feel great about getting gorgeous and conversing with their community, friends and family. Shoppers Drug Mart holds these types of beauty events regularly for our customers, so having a chance to make it even better by helping CBCF and the breast cancer cause motivates us to have the best gala possible! We are going all out for this Holiday Beauty Gala – our event will include makeovers, eyebrow threading, hair styling, facials, some delicious food and of course, many glamorous prizes! This is our chance to pamper our customers and women supporting the cause.

Shoppers Drug Mart employee, volunteering at the 2015 Spring Beauty Gala.

So, book a date with beauty — it is a great chance to learn some new makeup tips, mingle with some fantastic people, have a glamorous makeover, enjoy a meaningful event and support the Foundation! Purchase your tickets in-store today.

Shenaz Singh
Shoppers Drug Mart Associate Ambassador
Store #255, Langley Crossing

Shenaz has been with Shoppers Drug Mart for over 10 years, starting as a Pharmacy Assistant in 2004. She graduated from UBC Pharmacy in 2009 and has been an Associate for five years. She has worked for over 20 Shoppers Drug Mart locations and has been an Associate-Owner of three locations (currently two). She is extremely proud to be a part of a company that is the trusted leader in taking care of the whole you.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

My Interview with Sandi – the Areola Tattoo Artist

In May 2015, the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (CBCF) granted Eagle Ridge Hospital Foundation (ERHF) $50,000 for their Areola Tattoo Clinic (an areola is the small circular area, in particular the ring of pigmented skin, surrounding a nipple). This will ensure that over 250 women receive areola tattoos – tattooing a new areola to a reconstructed breast – free of charge.

I was fortunate to visit Eagle Ridge Hospital at the cheque presentation with two other CBCF representatives. We met ERHF staff (they are so lovely and supportive), a breast reconstruction surgeon, a breast cancer survivor, the areola tattoo artist and clinical nurse, Sandi Saunier, and were given a tour of the clinic. Sandi shared stories about how she became involved; it was fascinating.

I left feeling inspired to contact Sandi and interview her for our blog. I wanted to share her story and spread the word about the work that she is doing to help women post-surgery. I’ve purposely saved Sandi’s story for October, as it is now Breast Cancer Action Month. Sandi is making a difference and taking action. Sandi is a hero in my eyes (though she doesn’t look at herself way – but she is). Allow me to share our interview:

Q1: Tell me about yourself and how you got started with areola tattooing 

I am a registered nurse and I started the tattoo clinic. I’ve been at Eagle Ridge Hospital for three years and prior to this I was at Surrey Memorial Hospital, where I started their tattoo clinic in September 2009. The clinic was then moved to Eagle Ridge in 2012.  I work closely with plastic surgeons who communicated that many women, post-reconstructive surgery, were not completing the process because they were either not comfortable going to a tattoo artist, or they did not have enough money.

Once we received funding so that women could receive areola tattoos free of charge, Dr. Dao Nguyen, the plastic surgeon at Eagle Ridge that oversees the tattoo clinic, asked me if I’d be up to the challenge – obviously I was!

Initially I was trained by a nurse from Kentucky that did areola tattooing. I also took a medical tattooing course and learned about performing both areola and cleft lip tattoos. Lastly, I spent time with a non-medical tattoo artist to see if I was comparable and watch his technique.

Q2: Tell me about your experience as an areola tattoo artist

I’ve completed close to 1,000 procedures, and practice makes perfect! I’m constantly researching and finding ways to better my service.

Sandi Saunier, Carol Shields and Dr. Dao Nguyen.

Q3: How did receiving the grant from CBCF make you feel?

It was a huge sigh of relief, because I was somewhat restricted on how many patients I could see per year. Usually I’d have to take two months off from the tattoo procedures because there was not enough money. The waiting lists were getting longer and patients couldn’t receive the procedures because there was not enough funding.

Eagle Ridge is part of the Fraser Health Authority, but I get calls from people outside of Fraser Health too. With my new additional funds, I’m now able to look after women in the entire Lower Mainland. I want to help everyone. 

Q4: What do you want other women to know when facing breast reconstruction?

I appreciate where every woman is coming from; every story is different. It is each woman’s choice if she wants the tattoo done or not. But I feel if she is waffling about the nipple tattoo, she must do it. It’s the easiest part of reconstruction. You don’t need a ride home, you’re wide awake and you’re talking. During our time we decide on the size, colour and shape. You’re able to bring a family member in for support, but you don’t have to. I provide local freezing so it is not painful. I am certified and can confidently say that the procedure is painless. If you’ve done the pain of reconstruction, it is truly the icing on the cake. So easy – we talk, it takes two hours, it transforms your breasts from “I just had cancer breasts” to breasts that you can actually forget have undergone anything. It goes from a mannequin breast to a real breast. I invite all of my patients, post and pre-surgery, to call and talk to me – I provide my home phone number.

Q5: Is there anything personal about yourself you’d like to share?

The joy of my job is that I am able to send off satisfied ladies. The procedure takes away some of the anxiety they may have had if they did not complete the tattoo. It’s a plus for me and plus for them.
When I was a young girl my grandmother had breast cancer. I remember seeing her and she looked like she’d been burned from her neck to her belly button because of the radiation – she had no reconstruction. When I see how remarkable these women look after reconstruction and the tattoos, I am amazed by the progress that has been made so that they don’t have battle scars. There is never a day that goes by that I don’t think about my grandma.

Watch Sandi and breast cancer survivor, Carol Shields on Shaw’s That Talk Show.


Tia O'Grady
Marketing and Communication Officer
Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Who Are You Running For?

Shan was happiest during the dog days of summer. A time when Shan could feel the heat of the sun, swim off the sailboat, join friends at the beach or their cottage. To wake up to blue sky and sunshine was her happy place. We still call them “Shan Days.”

Shan was only 24 when she lost her life to breast cancer. Shan’s symptoms were misdiagnosed by a number of health care professionals and she was diagnosed late with metastatic breast cancer that had spread to her bones and liver. Shan faced the tests and breast cancer treatments with determined optimism, but it was too little, too late and Shan passed away a few months later.

In an effort to make a difference for young women following in Shan’s footsteps, Team Shan Breast Cancer Awareness for Young Women (Team Shan) was born. Team Shan is a national charity dedicated to educating the public, health care professionals and young women about early detection, risk reduction and prevention of breast cancer.

Team Shan has reached over 100,000 young women across Canada with their breast cancer risk and breast health information. Young women have responded, taken action for their own health and shared information. They have appreciated not being forgotten in breast cancer messaging and thanked Team Shan for being on campus.

This fall, through community grant support from the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation - BC/Yukon Region, Team Shan will be hosting a multi-faceted breast cancer awareness campaign on and around the University of British Columbia (UBC) Vancouver. Working with campus contacts and partners, the campaign will run from the first of October to the middle of November. Watch for billboard posters, transit shelter and bus ads, CiTR 101.9 radio spots, Ubyssey print media ads, displays, print resources on campus, website and social media posts.

Shan’s face and her story has resonated with young women and made an impact on communicating Team Shan messages. Messages on breast cancer facts, risk factors, symptoms and self care will be shared at UBC. Messages that have made a difference for young women diagnosed with breast cancer, e.g., “In Shan’s memory, I would perform self-exams on a fairly regular basis. The only reason I did these exams was because I would remember Shan, and the billboards and your messages on FB from the group. The happy news is, because I did regular exams, I found it very early. Thank you for running programs in Shan’s memory. Thank you for reminding me that it is not just a disease of older women. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!”

I will be on hand at the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC Run for the Cure event in Vancouver to share my expertise and help create a future without breast cancer. Shan was a runner; a gifted athlete. I will be participating in Shan’s memory.

Who are you running for?

Lorna Larsen
Shanna's Mom
Team Shan President

Monday, September 28, 2015

Binder a Reminder of Long Journey With Cancer

Sandy Przada

A binder full of doctor referrals, pill regimens, pathology reports and other miscellaneous documents tell the story of Sandy Przada’s two-year journey with breast cancer.

One hand-scribbled note indicates directions to the store where she purchased her first wig after chemotherapy, while a calendar of radiation dates notes not only the appointment time but also the friend or family member who accompanied her for support.

Although it has been nearly 11 years since the diagnosis, Przada keeps the binder as a reminder of her journey.

“I forget every little detail of treatment - like before my radiation treatment I had to have three little dots tattooed on me so that the radiation would be placed exactly where it needed to be every time.”

“When I look back at my binder I can't believe I had gone through all of that.” she said. “I think it upsets me more now than when I was going through it.”

The diagnosis came in November 2004, after Przada, then 37, discovered the tell-tale lump and inquired about it during a regular check-up. First came the ultrasound, and then a needle biopsy which confirmed Przada had Stage 3 breast cancer.

She recalls it felt like a death sentence. Along with her husband Keith, they toiled over having to break the news to their three boys.

“You hit a wall, almost like you don’t believe it,” she said. “After a little while, I went ‘you know what, this is just a little bump in the road, I just have to do what I have to do and I can move on’.”
By mid-December, Przada was on the surgery table, where surgeons performed a full mastectomy on the left side and removed a two centimetre mass.

After Christmas with the family, Przada started six months of chemotherapy on January 6, 2005, followed by six weeks of daily radiation in Victoria.

“It takes a toll on your body,” she said. “With the chemo, you feel sick, and it’s like a constant hangover.”

Following the radiation, Przada became eligible for a government funded cancer treatment for Her2/neu, one of the types of cancers she had.

“They were testing [Herceptin] on the really invasive cancers, and it seemed to work for them,” she said. “It was supposed to be for a year, but as they learned more about it, they could double it up and it was a shorter time.”

From there, Przada was on the road to recovery. She continued to see her oncologist for two years, and now has annual checkups and mammograms. Regular biking, walking and eating well have become part of Przada's prevention strategy. She said once you have experienced breast cancer, it is hard to shake the fear of it returning.

“It doesn’t come often, but when you hear of a case, it brings you back and you think ‘nobody is safe’, it could happen to anyone, it could happen to me again,” she said. “So it’s always in the back of my mind.”

On October 4, Przada will be one of many local breast cancer survivors to participate in the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC Run for the Cure in Nanaimo.

Although she had completed the run in years preceding her diagnosis, Przada has since participated every year.

“My boys come and do it with me, and my youngest brother who is not a runner at all makes it a point every year to come and do it with me,” she said. “It’s easy to do and it’s a good event. It’s fun to be there.”

The CIBC Run for the Cure is on Sunday, October 4 at nine communities across the province including: Abbotsford, Kamloops, Kelowna, Nanaimo, Prince George, Surrey, Vancouver, Vernon and Victoria.  To register, donate or volunteer, visit
Niomi Pearson
Communications Coordinator
Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC Run for the Cure - Nanaimo

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Own Your Strong with CBCF and Mudderella – I am!

I’m a big fan of CBCF. I have a good reason to be.

Our family was lucky – blessed. We dodged a bullet. Judy Caldwell had surgery and radiation therapy. She was the picture of health six months after her diagnosis. We were shaken, but our feet were on firmer ground. A lot of families would heave sign of relief and move on, maybe donate some money. My mom, for lack of a better phrase, got pissed off. She was done with the whole concept of cancer. She had seen the chasm yawning in front of innumerable women and decided that instead of running away, she was going to go get a shovel and start filling that hole in, with whatever she could find. Ultimately, she founded the BC/Yukon Region of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation and built an organization to raise money, fund research, promote awareness and advocate for breast cancer patients and all people facing breast cancer. In short, Judy Caldwell rode her wave of anger and took action.

Karolina Turek Photography.
The lessons I’ve learned from my mom cover every facet of my life: how I work, how I parent, how I treat people, how I treat myself and how I treat my body and spirit.

Me, I’m Chelsea, Judy’s daughter. It’s a title that means the world to me, just like she does. I’m a 41 year old lawyer with a busy practice, a gorgeous husband and a 22 month old son. I also have a lot of really good makeup, because that whole situation, while rewarding, can really take it out of me.

When my mother told me Mudderella had chosen CBCF as a charity partner, I was thrilled, and not just because it meant that I had an excellent reason to take a weekend with my husband in Whistler. My mom and I exercise all the time. When I was pregnant, we both went to the gym every day. I wanted to keep that bump as healthy as possible. She wanted to be healthy and strong to make sure she could tote the bump stretching my pants out around on one arm. She was working out because she had asked herself an important question – what do I want the next 10 years my life to look like? Do I want to be strong? Confident? Flexible? Happy?

It’s a good question. Easy to answer. Tough to follow through on.

Before and during my pregnancy, I didn’t think about working out much. I did five miles on the bike the day before my son was born (I’m pretty sure everyone in the gym was waiting for me to go into labour. I looked ready to pop). It’s what I do to calm down. It’s where I focus and recover from the day.

After I delivered my son, I really did wonder whether everything would return to its former state. Thanks to my habits, and a baby that loved the running stroller, I had a very easy recovery and bounced back well. My jeans fit. Even the scary ones. Still, I didn’t look the same.  My husband told me I looked great, but I still felt different. I think that on some level I thought that if I worked out hard enough, I could reverse time and become a 23 year old again.  I could work out enough that sleep deprivation didn’t matter. My logic is not like your earth logic, and I refuse to be limited! Gravity and time? Who needs them?

I realized that my attitude had to change before my brain exploded. At 41, I needed to accept that I wasn’t magically aging in reverse. And that aging didn’t matter (not that much, I mean, I’m not giving up sunscreen or moisturizer). Aside from freezing myself (can’t, too much Trader Joe’s flat bread in the freezer), my face and body were going to change. I had to start thinking about what my body could do, not what it looked like. I’m not going to be a swimsuit model any time soon – and thank God, because I hate fake tans and false eyelashes. I took my son to the park and the playground. I saw how much joy sang through his little body as he learned and gained strength. I showed him how to climb and run and jump. I thought about what I wanted to feel – that natural high that comes with play. Adults don’t get a lot of chance to play. We get stuck in working out for our health, to manage our stress, to fit into our scary jeans. I wanted something different. That’s where the mud comes in. Running an obstacle course is fun.

Mudderella is a chance to play and jump and run without fear. We can have some fun getting to the finish line.

I think about how we go through the day, looking for approval and trying to succeed. So much of our self-worth is actually a reflection of what we see mirrored in the eyes around us. I’ve felt that, being a human/woman, for years. Absent some serious deprogramming, that isn’t going away. But, even when the mirror is not your friend, when all your kid wants is another exhausting, loud adventure, when there is one more expletive deleted thing to take care of, there is something that I own. I own what my body can do. That’s the result of the time I put in. Nobody gave me that. I built that for myself, one nasty horrible gut wrenching burpee at a time. Everyone’s body is different. Everyone’s achievements are different. No matter what they are, they belong to you.

I own my strength. I build it every day. I build it for me, for my son and my husband. For my whole family. When you own your strong, you can lend your strength to everyone around you. Like my mom did and still does.

So, I own my strong. Do you?

Chelsea Caldwell
Mother, wife, daughter and Mudderella

Visit – it’s not too late to register for Mudderella Whistler on Saturday, September 26. As a CBCF supporter you receive $30 of your ticket price, when you use code “CharityPartner100CBCF” at checkout.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Tea with a Good Dose of Purpose

Different people consume tea at different occasions, all across the globe. In Canada, we have the benefit of being exposed to numerous types of tea and occasions for the drink.

Images and words that often come to mind when thinking of tea are togetherness, understanding, caring, warmth and relaxation. No matter if it's hot tea, black or white, cold tea with sugar and lemon, bubbles or leaves, tea can bring a sense of comfort. Whether it's your tea ceremony, cooling down after a day in the sun, laying in bed sick, cozying up to read a book or sitting chatting around the kitchen table with friends – tea has been there.

Tea has new meaning for Josephine Bruno, a 19 year breast cancer survivor from Kamloops, British Columbia. Being Italian, drinking tea often meant that you were ill, but now tea means something much more to her.

Josephine’s story began in May 1996, when she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. Then and there, she made a commitment to support the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation – BC/Yukon Region (CBCF).

"Since I was diagnosed with breast cancer 19 years ago, my first duty was to go through treatment... and then to do something to raise money for breast cancer research. Fundraising for CBCF is like a good dose of medicine for me.”

And she has done just that. She participated in the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC Run for the Cure with her team of CAN-ITAL Ladies and her work colleagues. Along with her beloved nephew, Anthony Salituro, she helped to raise a tremendous $750,000 through the Pink Ribbon Charity Ball in Kamloops over 16 years. When the Pink Ribbon Tea presented by Blenz Coffee was launched in October 2014, she leaped at the opportunity to participate.

"25 guests joined me in my home to raise money for my special cause. Everything was pink – we had a wonderful time that was both fun and meaningful." 

This year, she is thrilled to once again be hosting a Pink Ribbon Tea presented by Blenz Coffee – in her home – with friends and family, and will be enjoying good food, playing games and sharing stories to raise funds for the cause. She has made a commitment to the Foundation to help make funding possible to create a future without breast cancer. Josephine hopes others will host a tea party as well, and share their own personal story.

Have you registered to hold a tea party yet? Learn more and sign up today at You won’t regret it.

Friday, August 14, 2015

CIBC Run for the Cure Local Hero - Vanessa Yu

Vanessa Yu, Team Captain and Local Hero, CIBC Run for the Cure

In 2014 my mom discovered a lump in her breast and armpit during a self-breast exam. She was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer. After a whirlwind eight months, she had a total mastectomy, endured chemotherapy, and completed radiation therapy.

Early in her diagnosis, I decided to create a team to support her and also give hope to her future by creating awareness and funding for breast cancer, especially triple negative breast cancer and its future targeted therapies.

Being a team captain was simple and straight forward, compared to what patients have to go through, as well as, I found it important for myself to be involved and take control of what I could to help my mom through it. The diagnosis of cancer leaves the patient and family feeling vulnerable and helpless in many ways.

Read more about Vanessa Yu's personal story and why she participates as a Team Captain for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC Run for the Cure.  Vanessa is one of 130+ Local Heroes across Canada sharing their stories to inspire others to continue supporting the Foundation's vision of creating a future without breast cancer.

With 50 days left until the CIBC Run for the Cure, there is plenty of time to participate. Walk, run, donate or volunteer.  For women like Vanessa, your participation means everything.  Join us on Sunday, October 4th at the 24th annual CIBC Run for the Cure. Learn more at

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

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Five New Facts you Should Know About the On All Fronts Blog

An inside look into the world of CBCF and the people connected to the cause.

Why blog?  When it comes to breast cancer, I was “there and did that” in 1991.  I am well and beyond grateful for the generosity and kindness of others who shared their intimate cancer stories and experiences with me, then and now.  Your tales have been real, inspirational, difficult, downright goofy, often hilarious and always food for the soul.

I hope that in blog-land, On All Fronts readers have found something of value.  Life moves on, and now I want to expand the blog to be for the entire Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation – BC/Yukon Region (CBCF), to share more about the inside world of CBCF and so many fascinating people who are connected to the breast cancer cause.

Below are five types of articles that you can look forward to reading:

1.  Ask an Expert
Discover what words of advice are shared in personal articles about breast cancer written by survivors, researchers, fellows, students, donors, volunteers, medical practitioners, and friends or family members that are connected to the cause.

2.  CBCF Staff Highlights
Who are the people behind the Foundation and what are their experiences working for the cause?

3.  Breast Health
Read about the latest breast health and cancer news, information, advice, and programs.  What steps can you take to reduce your risk of breast cancer?

4.  CBCF Events
Get an insider’s look at the many events that CBCF offers.

5.  And of course... articles written by ME!

Don’t miss out on the action and be sure to subscribe to On All Fronts by typing in your email address at the top left side of this webpage.

Happy reading!

Judy Caldwell
Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation – BC/Yukon Region