Campaigns for Change
Rethink’s advocacy program boldly puts young women’s issues on the agenda and tackles issues like access to treatment and gaps in care. We are working closely with young women, placing them at the center of making much needed changes to improve breast cancer services, treatment, education and research for all women.
To get involved in our Campaigns for Change please click on the links below or contact Shawna from Rethink.
A BITTER PILL: TAKE HOME CANCER TREATMENT
A cancer diagnosis can be devastating. But then imagine that the treatment you need, the one your oncologist says is best for your cancer, isn’t available to you simply because it comes in the form of a pill.
That is the reality for cancer patients in Ontario between the ages of 25 and 64 whose cancer can be best treated by take-home cancer treatments, or in other words, a cancer treatment in pill form that is taken at home. These patients don’t have a choice – their oncologist prescribes what’s best for their cancer and it may only come in a pill.
In Ontario, patients who are between the ages of 25 and 64 face two different cancer systems. One for IV treatments taken in the hospital that is fully funded. And another for treatment taken in pill form at home that includes delays, administrative challenges and out-of-pocket costs to the patient. If the best treatment for your cancer only comes in a pill – and you’re either not young enough or not old enough – get ready for added stress and a significant hit to your bank account. How is this fair?
This issue is especially important to young women living with breast cancer. For breast cancer, the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women, most of the newest treatment are in pill form and taken at home with more than 10 others expected in the pipeline. This offers patients a lot of hope and promise, but not if they cannot access these treatments in Ontario.
Ontario is in election mode. We are calling for a commitment from all candidates for equal funding for take-home cancer treatments.
The western provinces, northern territories and Quebec figured this out ages ago. Ontario needs to catch up. Now. Cancer can’t wait.
There is already too much uncertainty for Canadian women living with Metastatic Breast Cancer (MBC). MBC occurs when cancer has spread from the breast to other parts of the body. Women with MBC need treatments that help keep their disease controlled. Until there is a cure, it is treatments that give time and help them live a better life longer.
Research continues to show progress in treating metastatic breast cancer, and the price of these new treatments developed by pharmaceutical manufacturers continues to rise. The price of new cancer treatments is resulting in an unsustainable health system. This leaves metastatic breast cancer patients waiting longer for new treatments to be approved and listed in Canada compared to other jurisdictions – leading to more uncertainties about the availability of future innovative cancer treatments and the clinical trial sites. It’s time to change how metastatic breast cancer drugs are approved and listed to be more transparent and without delay.
Ensure the voices and values of women with MBC are represented when decisions about their health and care are made.
Care Guidelines for Young Women with Breast Cancer
Rethink Breast Cancer has developed a set of recommended Care Guidelines for Young Women with Breast Cancer to inform young women of the care they should be receiving and to inform health care professionals of the unique issues that young women face which should be addressed when treating young breast cancer patients.
The Care Guidelines have been developed in consultation with younger women with breast cancer as well as our professional advisors in oncology, nursing and psychosocial support. They are based on original work by UK specialist breast cancer support charity Breast Cancer Care.
Needs Assessment Survey
We are working towards making important changes for young women affected with breast cancer based on our Needs Assessment Survey results.
Oncotype Dx Test Funding
In 2013, we brought our advocacy messages to the provincial legislature in the provinces of Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario, calling for greater access to evidenced based treatments and diagnostic testing.
Our work paid off! Earlier this year, the provinces of British Columbia and Alberta announced they will fund the Oncotype Dx test for all eligible women in those provinces. Alberta announced funding on March 25, 2014, followed by a positive funding recommendation by the BC government on April 22nd.
We would like to see all eligible Canadian women have access to Oncotype Dx. Click here to participate in this on-going campaign
Deconstructing Breast Reconstruction
In December 2013, Rethink’s Executive Director, MJ DeCoteau, along with our Senior Advocacy Manager, Ashley Mac Isaac-Butler, and our Board Member, Dr. Sunil Verma, met with the Minister of Health in Ontario to discuss the lengthy wait times for women who are at high risk of developing breast cancer and choose prophylactic mastectomies.
Since that meeting, the Minister has commissioned The Breast Reconstruction Working Group and Expert Panel at Cancer Care Ontario (CCO) to examine this issue in-depth and advise on best practices in the area.This information will help inform CCO and the Ministry on the needs for services in this area, and address recommendations for the optimal delivery of breast cancer reconstruction services in the province of Ontario.
We see ourselves as a resource for ongoing information to the Ontario government on how to effectively help young women with breast cancer. We will be conducting our own background work into this issue and will work with CCO and the Ministry of Health, to ensure that young women facing this disease have timely access to prevention surgeries and reconstruction so that they can personalize their own care.
Click here to get involved in Deconstructing Breast Reconstruction