It’s normal to experience stress if you’ve been called for a follow-up appointment after a routine mammogram. Finding distractions can help manage those stressful days while you’re waiting for additional tests. Read more tips from Dr. Karen Zhang for coping with “scanxiety” here.
After you’ve gone for a mammogram to screen for breast cancer, most of the time those x-rays are clear. But what happens if you get a call back after your test? Here’s what to expect during your follow-up visit at Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS)’ Breast Assessment Centre located at Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre.
Check out this post by Hamilton Health Science to learn more:
The CIBC Breast Assessment Centre’s parking lot has been closed for hospital construction. Two free spots for clients are available on Concession Street, directly in front of the Centre’s front doors. Spots are signed, Breast Assessment Centre Parking Only. For Hospital parking information and rates, click here: https://bit.ly/2lIZj2C. City of Hamilton street parking is also available. Thank you for your patience. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause
HAMILTON — If breast cancer awareness has a season, it is surely autumn.
October marks Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and here in Hamilton the Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre Foundation is sponsoring the Life After Breast Cancer Conference for people affected by any stage of breast cancer and their support network.
Registration is now open for this full-day conference, taking place Friday, Oct. 25 at the Hamilton Convention Centre by Carmen’s. There’s a discount on admission for anyone registering before Sept. 30.
This highly-informative conference has taken place every two years since 2001 and typically attracts over 300 participants, many of whom are breast cancer survivors. It also draws people who have not been diagnosed with breast cancer but are still deeply impacted, such as survivors’ family and friends and people at higher risk of developing this disease for hereditary reasons.
This year’s keynote speaker is Dr. Alexandra Ginty, the regional lead for cancer screening in Mississauga/Halton, a family doctor and hereditary high-risk breast cancer survivor. Dr. Ginty also has a masters degree in leadership and is an assistant professor at McMaster University. She has been dubbed `Dr. Both Sides’ because she has experienced cancer as both a physician and patient.
Dr. Ginty underwent a double mastectomy and lost her hair from cancer treatment. After discovering she carried a genetic BRCA mutation – associated with hereditary breast and ovarian cancer – she elected to pre-emptively have her uterus and ovaries removed. Her passion for awareness and change is strong, and she is heavily involved in survivorship and on provincial advisory boards. Her book, Both Sides: When the Doctor Becomes the Cancer Patient, chronicles her story and offers poems and healing tools to help people manage adversity.
The Life After Breast Cancer Conference features workshops, expert guest speakers, information tables, community resources and lunch. Topics cover a wide range of issues including cancer genetics, the role exercise can play in recovery, the impact of a cancer diagnosis on adolescents and young adults, managing lymphedema, cannabis and cancer, strategies to promote mental health, sexuality, breast reconstruction, nipple tattooing, and ways to manage fear of recurrence and survivor guilt.
Breast cancer survivor Kathie Ward has attended every Life After Breast Cancer conference, and has been on the event’s organizing committee for the past nine conferences. The Hamilton Mountain resident was diagnosed over 20 years ago and treated with surgery and chemotherapy.
“I’m 20 years on the other side of breast cancer, but I still find the conference’s speakers and workshops extremely helpful and informative,” says Ward, a retired registered nurse at the Juravinski Cancer Centre.
“This conference is ideal for people any stage of breast cancer, at any stage of their life.”
Registration cost is $40 before Sept. 30 and $45 after. To register, visit www.hamiltonhealth.ca/LABC call 905-575-6398.
By Dr. Callista Phillips and Leslie Maskell, co-chairs of the Life After Breast Cancer Conference. Dr. Phillips is a medical oncologist at the Joseph Brant Hospital in Burlington and the Juravinski Cancer Centre in Hamilton where she treats breast cancer and has a special interest in survivorship. Maskell is a registered nurse and gastrointestinal disease site team coordinator at the Juravinski Cancer Centre.
Sitting in a dark room with several computer screens, staff members and technologists enter one-by-one to talk to the radiologist. They’re focused on reviewing images of all the patients’ mammograms from that day.
The low light helps Dr. Kavita Dhamanaskar and other radiologists to pick out subtle abnormalities in these complex images, whether it is plain film radiographs, ultrasound, CT scan or MRI.
In breast imaging, this involves focusing on mammogram images to detect early signs of breast cancer in both men and women.
Kavita joined Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) 15 years ago as a staff radiologist. More recently, she took up administrative roles while continuing to provide clinical service, primarily at Juravinski Hospital.
She was appointed the medical lead of the CIBC Breast Assessment Centre (BAC) to create efficient, high-quality care for patients with breast concerns.
Going paperless to speed up operations
Kavita made several positive changes to the workflow at BAC since she started in this role. She credits much of her success to a team of passionate individuals.
“I’m a tech-driven person and I wanted the BAC to reflect that,” says Kavita.
As an example, Kavita implemented a paperless system for reporting the screening studies. This led to significant improvements in workflow, reduced errors and paper clutter that made her staff happier they no longer needed to manage the paper trail.
Ultimately, it also improved the patient experience.
“As a physical space, the BAC was designed to be a beautiful and welcoming place,” says Kavita. “I want patients to feel that entire experience as soon as they walk in the door.”
Most of the individuals coming for breast cancer screening are otherwise healthy but still have anxiety about their tests. The calming surroundings help mitigate some of their concerns.
Taking a shine to Hamilton
Kavita immigrated to Canada from India to attend fellowship in Toronto. When it was time to find a job, HHS was the first and only place to which she applied.
It was an exploration, one that was well rewarded. And she is thankful for the numerous opportunities HHS and McMaster University, where she is associate professor of radiology, offered to her growth.
“Back then, I just thought it was the right place for me to work,” says Kavita. “Hamilton is such a wonderful city with so much happening, and the health care innovation we see regularly is a big draw. This is home for me.”
Kavita is also the site chief of diagnostic imaging at Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre in addition to her role at the BAC.
“She works tirelessly to develop clinical guidelines based on best practices,” says Kathleen Bell, clinical manager for the BAC. “She ensures the BAC remains at the forefront of technology and expertise.”
A free bird
As the medical lead, Kavita does not take her influence for granted. She continues to network as hard as someone who’s trying to enter the field for the first time.
“I try to meet with as many people as possible, get to know them on a more personal level,” says Kavita. “Different people have different strengths and I try to understand what I’m good at and what I need others to help me with.”
Sometimes her advocacy helped get necessary technology upgrades in her department.
Her approachable personality is also on display as she interacts with various members of her team throughout the day to assess many patients that come in for exams.
Although she doesn’t feel like she’s different from anyone else, she was raised to stand out from the crowd.
“My father inspired me to be a free bird,” she says. “I was the first one in the family to consider medicine as a career and I haven’t looked back.”
Are you due or overdue for your mammogram?
You can book your own mammogram appointment by calling the Ontario Breast Screening Program located at the CIBC Breast Assessment Centre, 905-389-0101