Canada’s largest breast cancer centre opened at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre Thursday. The Louise Temerty Breast Cancer Centre is located on the sixth floor of M-Wing at the Toronto hospital’s Bayview Avenue location. The 28,000 square foot facility offers patients specialty clinics and unique programs with the latest technology and imaging.
With technologies such as the Marion C. Soloway Breast Rapid Diagnostic Unit, patients can receive rapid assessment and next-day diagnosis.
The centre also offers PYNK, which is a breast cancer program for young women and is the country’s only “comprehensive program meeting the needs of young women with breast cancer,” according to the hospital’s news release.
“When it comes to the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer, there is no time to lose. I know this new centre will make a world of difference to women and their families during a very challenging time,” said Kathleen Wynne, the premier of Ontario, who was there with her partner, a breast cancer survivor.
According to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation Ontario, breast cancer is still the most common cancer in Canadian women. One in nine Canadian women is expected to get breast cancer and one in 29 Canadian women will die from it every year. An estimated 434 Canadian women are diagnosed with breast cancer every week, or 62 women every day.
Melanie D’Silva was diagnosed in January, 2011, and has been a patient at Sunnybrook ever since. She shared her story at the new centre’s opening Thursday, calling it a journey that has been amazing and even peaceful.
“I have to say the care here is just fantastic and I’m not saying other hospitals are not good, but what I’m saying is because they are so focused on this, they’re able to provide that well-rounded treatment, the education, the aftercare. The service at Sunnybrook is what differentiates it from other hospitals. That’s what made it beautiful for me,” she said.
D’Silva is now breast cancer free and is back to work in human resources for a large Ontario customs brokerage company. Throughout her illness, she has taken up the hobby of making and selling jewelry using Swarovski crystals. She says it is something that is calming and she finds inner peace when she does it.
“I didn’t get frightened, but it was really nice to know…what to expect because all three doctors told me exactly what to expect. And when you know that and when they’re managing all the symptoms, it’s a piece of cake. They seem to have it down to a science, with no pun on the word! But they just know exactly,” D’Silva said, in an interview after the press conference.
D’Silva has been part of four clinical research studies at Sunnybrook. During the studies, she said she was able to see her tumour disappear on screen.
“This new centre promises to deliver what women facing breast cancer need the most: hope. It is a wonderful example of specialized research, innovative treatments and compassionate care converging under one roof to offer patients the highest standards of care,” said Deb Matthews, Ontario’s Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, in the hospital’s news release.
Matthews and the premier are not strangers to breast cancer. Both women have gone through it with their loved ones.
“My mom was one of those women who was diagnosed with breast cancer, and did receive excellent help here. She’s doing great and I will forever be grateful to the people at Sunnybrook for providing excellent care for her,” Matthews said.
Wynne’s partner, Jane Rounthwaite, was also diagnosed with breast cancer. She was treated at Sunnybrook and is doing very well. Wynne’s said, “like Deb, I am eternally grateful.”
Dr. Martin Yaffe has been one of the leading developers of new cancer detection equipment at Sunnybrook. He took reporters on a tour of the new facilities. In the mid 1980s, Dr. Yaffe helped develop digital mammography. He says a new machine at the hospital can replace digital mammography as a screening tool in the future, however tests have to be done properly.
“Digital mammography was more accurate for women with dense breasts…younger women. So this is really the next step to try to do a kind of digital mammography CT. It’s called tomosynthesis…it’s on the same platform of digital mammography except we can take angulated views without moving the breast,” he said on the tour. “What we think is, we can actually find cancers that are missed in conventional mammography because of super positioned overlapping of tissues and also to reduce the false positive rate because of suspicious findings because of overlapping tissues.”
Over the last five years, Ontario’s Ministry of Research and Innovation has dedicated $1 million to Sunnybrook for research on breast cancer. Louise and Jim Temerty made a private donation of $10 million.