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Women’s Health and Cancer Awareness. Prepared by Kaylie Chow for BPW Ottawa Club October 10, 2013.

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women s health and cancer awareness

Women’s Healthand Cancer Awareness

Prepared by Kaylie Chow

for BPW Ottawa Club

October 10, 2013


Fellow members, friends, colleagues and visitors, I thank you for coming tonight. I am so glad you have come because I will speak on a subject in which I personally am deeply vested: Women's Health issues, cancer in particular.

I know it is not always easy to think about possible health issues - especially when you are busy, you feel fine, you are young (or think you are!) and you take good care of yourself,... or not.


As you likely know, October has been declared Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM), also referred to as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM).


BCAM is an annual international health campaign organized by major breast cancer charities every October to increase awareness of the disease and to raise funds for research into its cause, prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure.


I had hoped to bring in some experts who work in medical research, treatment and fund-raising - in general, not just for breast cancer, because I believe we need to be vigilant generally.

Given our timeliness, I was unable to get anyone in time for today. Instead, I would like to introduce some women I have known from around the Ottawa area. Maybe you will recognize a face, a name... or maybe you will be reminded of someone you know or love?

uta originally from germany
Uta, originally from Germany

twice-divorced, retired German Embassy diplomatic rep and world citizen, mother to two adult children, grandmother to a teenager

melanie originally from burke s fall on
Melanie, originally from Burke's Fall, ON

Twice married, church secretary and mother of four home-schooling children and an adult son

karen originally from charlottetown pei
Karen, originally from Charlottetown, PEI

Newly single, restaurant and café owner, and mother of two teenage children

jaimie originally from washington dc
Jaimie, originally from Washington DC

engaged to be married, parliamentary intern, political junkie, beloved member of a large, tight-knit, prominent, well-established Canadian family

camille originally from ottawa on
Camille, originally from Ottawa, ON,

high school student, dancer and soccer player, beloved member of a small, modest family of French-Italian descent

kaylie originally from ottawa on
Kaylie, originally from Ottawa, ON

married, self-employed practice management consultant, mother of two school-age children, first-generation Canadian, born into a small, immigrant family from China


Did you recognize anyone (besides me)? Did you notice anything these women had in common?

Marital status? No

Occupation? No

Age? No

Place of origin? No


Yes - all lived in Ottawa in the last 10 years Yes - I have personally known each of them

Yes – they are all female

AND each one of them has battled cancer.

Different cancers. Different outcomes.

The descriptions I gave you were true as at time of their diagnosis. Now for their current status…

uta originally from germany1
Uta, originally from Germany

succumbed to colon cancer after a courageous two year battle that took her from Ottawa to England to Germany in search of a cure

melanie originally from burke s fall on1
Melanie, originally from Burke's Fall, ON

divorced and in new relationship, has new career as esthetician and reflexologist, mother of one teenage son and four adult children, grandmother of two grandchildren, survivor of recurrent bladder cancer (3 times) presently cancer-free

karen originally from charlottetown pei1
Karen, originally from Charlottetown, PEI

Remains single, forced to sell café and close her restaurant, fighting recurrent uterine and ovarian cancer (2nd time) and now undergoing chemo

jaimie originally from washington dc1
Jaimie, originally from Washington DC

succumbed to neuro-endocrine cancer at age 23 following a courageous year-an-a-half battle that took her and her family across Canada and the United States in search of a cure

camille originally from ottawa on1
Camille, originally from Ottawa, ON,

succumbed to rare form of lymphoma at at 16 following a courageous one-year battle that brought in medical experts from across North America

kaylie originally from ottawa on1
Kaylie, originally from Ottawa, ON

still married, ramping up original career track, mother of 2 teenagers, survivor of breast cancer and presently cancer-free


Why did I want you to meet all of these women?

Because you need to know that “the big-C” (I mean cancer) is not selective. It can strike any woman regardless of place of origin, age, race, socioeconomic background or even family history.

cancer stats for eastern o ntario
Cancer stats for eastern Ontario

Provided by the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation

It is estimated that 1 in 9 women will get breast cancer in their lifetime.1

There are roughly 5,500 people living with Breast Cancer in our region.2

The three most common cancers diagnosed in women are:

Breast, Lung & Colorectal (Colon) .3

cancer stats for eastern o ntario cont d
Cancer stats for eastern Ontario (cont’d)

Provided by the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation

Breast, lung, colorectal and prostate cancers represent the majority (53%) of newly diagnosed cancers in both men and women.4

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men (27%), while breast cancer (26%) is the most common cancer in women. 4

1 Canadian Cancer Society, 2011

2 Cancer Care Ontario, 2004

3 Cancer Care Ontario, 2012

4 Cancer Care Ontario, 2012

about women s cancers
About Women’s Cancers

About Women's Cancers

You have likely heard of the campaign to “end Women’s Cancers.” The reference is actually intended to include:

Breast Cancer

Ovarian Cancer

Cervical Cancer

Uterine Cancer

Vaginal Cancer

Vulvar Cancer

about women s cancers1
About Women’s Cancers

Women’s cancers are a huge threat—and demand an equally powerful response. One in seven Canadian women will be diagnosed with a women’s cancer in their lifetime. Statistics show that in 2012 alone, 32,150 Canadian women were diagnosed with a women’s cancer and 8,140 died from the cancer. (Source: Canadian Cancer Society: Canadian Cancer Statistics 2012.)

now for the good news

There IS something that you can do to improve your chances of surviving cancer.

Thousands of women beat cancer every year, either because they have seen their doctor for a routine check-up, followed screening guidelines or told their doctor about a change to their body.

(There ARE ways to improve your chances of not getting cancer, too. We will save that for another time.)

no matter how health you feel or how busy you are you must take the time here s why
No matter how health you feel or how busy you are, you MUST take the time. Here’s why:

When cancer is diagnosed at an early stage, treatment is often simpler and more likely to be successful.

Finding cancer early means that there is less chance that the disease has spread to another part of your body.

When you find cancer early, you have a better chance of surviving. It means that it can be treated earlier – and maybe stopped.

Taken from the Canadian Cancer Society 2012

what needs to get checked

A new or unusual lump or swelling in the breast or other body part

A sore that doesn’t heal on your body or in your mouth

A change in the shape, size or colour of a mole or wart

A cough, hoarseness or a croaky voice that doesn’t go away

Problems swallowing

Blood in the urine, stool or mucous

Taken from the Canadian Cancer Society 2012


Blood in the urine, stool or mucous

Unusual bleeding or discharge from nipple or vagina

Changes in bladder habits, e.g. pain or problems urinating

Changes in bowel habbits, e.g. constipation or diarrhea, that lasts more than a few weeks

Indigestion that does not go away

Unexplained weight loss, fever or fatigue

Unexplained aches and pains

Any new skin growth or areas of skin that bleed, itch or become red


Having any of the signs listed does not mean that you have cancer but only a doctor can tell for sure. to save an hour or two today? Or would you

You have nothing to lose by getting checked except the time it takes to see the doctor. You may have everything to lose by not getting checked.

Do you really need rather save the rest of your life?

things you can do to reduce your risk of getting cancer

Early detection as described above

Follow screening guidelines, e.g. mammograms, Pap tests, stool testing

Talk to your doctor about your risk factors, e.g. personal and family history, radiation treatment, lifestyle

Don’t drink too much alcohol

Be physically active

Maintain a healthy body weight

Taken from the Canadian Cancer Society 2012


Eat a healthy diet:

limit amount of red and processed meats;

avoid meat and fish cooked at high temperatures (e.g. fried or bbq)

consume high fibre foods, e.g. vegetables and fruit, whole grains and beans, peas and lentils

Limit exposure to HPV

Get vaccinated against HPV

Don’t smoke and avoid second-hand smoke

Avoid hormone replacement therapy or prolonged use of birth control pills

what can we do to help


Cancer patients need assistance in a variety of ways. A cancer patient may ask these questions:

Who will cook and/or clean for my husband/child(ren)/family?

Who will get my child(ren) to/from the babysitter’s?

Who will help my child(ren) with homework?


How will my child(ren) get to their music lessons, sporting events or other extracurricular activities?

Who will care for my pets if I cannot be there when needed?

What if I cannot pay my bills because I cannot work?

How can I get to the hospital for all my appointments and/or treatments?

It’s fairly obvious what we could do to help to solve these dilemmas.

what about the less obvious


Cancer patients face more than just the real day-to-day issues. The disease attacks not only one’s body but one’s spirit.

There are professionals and organizations dedicated to providing counselling and guidance for cancer patients. However, we can all offer a shoulder to cry on and an ear to listen. We can take it one step further and reach out regularly to offer encouragement and show that we care.

what else can we do to help


It is our hope, and the hope of every cancer patient, that medical science will find a cure for cancer. Effective treatment and preventative measures would be good, too.

This is an area that requires funding. We can help by donating funds for these purposes. Or we can take it another step further and contribute our time and effort to participate in any number of cancer campaigns. There is no shortage of these happening at all times.