Third Annual Breast Health Symposium


On Thursday, March 27, 2014, the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation – Youth Advisory Council at the University of Alberta hosted its third annual breast cancer symposium. The number “three” is not necessarily a huge number, but it is important to keep in mind that little things matter. With each and every symposium hosted by YAC, we are educating more and more people about breast cancer. By increasing people’s awareness of this tragic disease, we are one step closer to finding a cure.

We invited three speakers to talk at our symposium, Dr. Judith Hugh, Dr. Margaret McNeely and Ashlee Rolheiser.

Our first speaker was Dr. Judith Hugh. Dr. Hugh is a professor as well as the director in the Division of Anatomical Pathology at the University of Alberta. She is interested in using biomarkers to find better ways of finding the best treatment for each breast cancer patient. I spoke with Dr. Hugh during the intermission, and she said that her job is a “way of life”. I was quite surprised by Dr. Hugh’s remark, but after our conversation, I realise how dedicated she was in her research to find new treatment methods for breast cancer.

The keynote speaker of the evening was Dr. Margaret McNeely. Dr. McNeely is an associate professor in the Department of Physical Therapy at the University of Alberta. She talked about the relationship between breast cancer rehabilitation and exercise. One sentence Dr. McNeely mentioned resonates in my mind. “Exercise is medicine.” Isn’t that interesting? Breast cancer patients that exercise while undergoing treatment have an increased rate of survival in the long run. So, not only is exercise good for preventing the development of cancer, but it can also be used as a form of therapy.

The final speaker of the evening was Ashlee Rolheiser. Ashlee is the daughter of a breast cancer survivor. She shared with us her experience with breast cancer and how it affected her and her family. After hearing Ashlee’s words, I have never felt so touched. From the quivering of her voice, I could sense her pain, but I could also feel her strength and determination.

Have you thought about how much courage a person needs to watch their mother suffer from breast cancer?

The amount of courage that Ashlee demonstrated was unimaginable.

My professor once said, “The more you know, the more you grow.”

What does this mean to you?

To me, this quote embodies everything needed to find a cure. With people becoming increasingly knowledgeable and aware of breast cancer, the more likely they are to be proactive with their health and make healthy lifestyle choices in hopes of reducing the risk of getting breast cancer. In addition, we can grow together as a community and work with each other to find this cure. Whether you are fund-raising money for research, educating those who are unaware of the disease, or doing the actual research, you are participating in a community that shares a common goal – a future without breast cancer.

If you already a part of this community, I would like to thank you. It is people like you that bring smiles to the faces of those affected by breast cancer.

If you are not, that’s okay. We are very welcoming and will be very happy to have you join us.

I would like to wish you all the very “breast” health.


Cary is the Youth Advisory Council, University of Alberta Historian and guest blogger on Unhooked!


2 thoughts on “Third Annual Breast Health Symposium

  1. It is a pity that there is no effort being made to present the link of hormonal birth control such as the pill and breast cancer. Women and especially young women should all get the opportunity to learn symptothermal birth control which is as effective as the pill but has NO side effects.

    • Thanks for your comment ginibinie! The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation actually has a dedicated page on our website which addresses the risks of exposure to synthetic hormones. You can read more about “The Pill, Fertility Treatment and HRT” as it relates to breast cancer here.

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