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Hello fellow breast cancer sufferers,

I am a professor at the Department of Microbiology, later named Biomedical and Molecular Sciences, of Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada.

            As a postdoctoral fellow at Princeton, then Harvard University, I worked on tumor viruses, the kind used as models at the time to study cancer.  Later, as our techniques and knowledge evolved, like many other researchers I started studying basic cell division mechanisms, ie how the cell controls its multiplication and what goes wrong when it doesn’t and cancer, including breast cancer develops.  

Still swimming.

            In 2010 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I went through operations, chemotherapy, the works.  I became a member of the board of Breast Cancer Action Kingston (BCAK) and tried to put on paper some information of interest to people living with breast cancer. It is amazing what you can do with a little bit of practical information.  It helps you wipe your eyes to see the situation more clearly. This is what they call “empowerment”.  It consists of knowledge of politics and policies (advocacy), combined with a few basic facts on diagnosis and treatment and mechanisms to cope with the side effects.  I hope these short stories help…



If you have some information or interesting story we would love to hear from you.

Leda Raptis, Ph.D. Professor, Department of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences, Queen’s University, Kingston

January 25, 2020

* * *

This link connects to Breast Cancer Action Kingston https://www.bcakingston.ca/

I have found the site of the US group Living Beyond Breast Cancer (LBBC) very informative:

https://www.lbbc.org/learn

From the News Media:

August 2021

https://www.thewhig.com/news/local-news/holistic-state-of-the-art-breast-cancer-treatment-centre-coming-to-kingston

June 2019 White Coat Black Art at CBC gets award.

The CBC show on the Hidden Dangers of Dense Breasts featuring members of Dense Breast Canada just won GOLD (top honours) in the health/medical category at the New York Festival Radio Awards. 
Congratulations to Dr. Brian Goldman and the team at White Coat, Black Art on CBC Radio
Thank you for the special way you brought to light Michelle Di Tomaso‘s story and the devastating effects on women from withholding information about the risks of dense breasts. 
Michelle, was absolutely incredible! Thank you for sharing all you went through with the hopes that other women would not have to go through this. Here’s the award winning show. Thank you for sharing this post! (Link immediately below)

https://www.cbc.ca/radio/whitecoat/her-dense-breast-tissue-hid-cancer-for-years-now-she-s-warning-others-1.4824142?__vfz=medium%3Dsharebar&fbclid=IwAR1sh_bL9zXqmACh_Oyln9ex4e30y9BahjeJecnyKHDxpI2A0Ud-2Q4PYdw

May 23, 2019 Community Foundation of Kingston and Area Grant to BCAK.

Award recipients and members of the Community Foundation of Kingston and Area. May 23, 2019.  BCAK received $14,770 to help lymphedema sufferers. Leda Raptis is in back row, second from right.  Photo credit, Garrett Elliott Photography.

For most of us-breast cancers the story is shared. The lump, then surgery, chemotherapy, irradiation, hormonal therapy, depending on the case.  When all treatments are finished you may think that’s it. But no!  In about half the cases, lymphedema, a swelling of the arm and hand sets in.  This is because lymph nodes may have been removed because they might harbor cancer cells and the lymph has nowhere to go so it pools in the arm.  The biggest problem is that there is no immunity in the arm, and you are extremely sensitive to infections.  A tiny scrape can cause an infection that, if left untreated, may become life-threatening. 

Treatment for lymphedema is compression with special, custom-made sleeves and gloves, exercise and massage. All this costs money.  The Ontario government Assistive Devices Program (ADP) covers 75% of the cost of sleeves and gloves, but the patient portion comes to over $1,000 a year.  All this on top of special massage (90$/hr) and exercises, and the expense comes at a time when you have the cancer to fight…

This is where the Community Foundation of Kingston and Area (CFKA) comes in. CFKA is funding programs designed to help improve the Kingston community. BCAK applied for a grant last February and in May we were overjoyed to hear that the grant was approved!  We received $14,770, enough to give financial support to a good number of sufferers who cannot afford it.  We also received special prices for swimming passes at the Queen’s swimming pool at the ARC and at the RMC pool. As there is no lymphedema expert in Kingston, we will invite Dr. Anna Towers from McGill to give a talk and advice on how to fight it.

We are grateful to the Community Foundation and the Tragically Hip Community Fund and the Smart & Caring Community Fund for making all that possible. Special thanks are due to Penny Scott for the help she gave us in putting the application together. We hope that lymphedema, that once it starts lasts a lifetime, will be brought under control and people will be able to lead again happy and productive lives.

Disclaimer:

This website is intended for the general purpose of giving information to breast cancer survivors and people undergoing treatment. References are included where applicable, to ensure that the information is evidence-based. However, we cannot guarantee that the information is error-free or complete.  The information is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice from a doctor.  For answers to specific health-related questions, please consult your doctor. We do not have any financial or other interests with products or services mentioned in this site. 

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