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Nadine's Story

​From the operating room to the research office and beyond, Dr. Nadine Caron has made it her goal to make a difference in the lives of those affected by breast cancer. As Canada’s first female First Nations general surgeon, Dr. Caron has made history while making her mark as a breast cancer researcher, surgeon and mentor. 
Being of First Nations decent, Dr. Caron understands firsthand the many challenges that Northern and Aboriginal women face with access to health-care and other important resources. In her day-to-day life as a physician in Prince George, British Columbia, she finds herself  realizing more and more how the health-care experiences of women in the Northern parts of BC were vastly different than those of women in the south, particularly when it came to breast cancer.  A breast cancer diagnosis would result in many trips to the hospital for her patients who sometimes had to travel for hours—or even days— from their rural or remote communities. Nadine quickly recognized the true impact of geography on her patients’ options for health care. After realizing that too many women were getting “lost in the system” because they lived too far away, Nadine knew that she had to help create systematic change. 
“I think we need to address [this issue],” says Nadine, “so that when a person goes into an operating room they have the same chances and the same likelihood that they’re going to beat this disease, they’re going to get through it and it’s going to be an experience that is respectful and culturally safe.”
Nadine talks about the importance of the Northern Breast Cancer Database, a project funded by the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, in helping to create change. The database was created to collect and analyze information from previous breast cancer patients in BC’s northern communities. The information provides insight into everything from how and when women were diagnosed, to the treatment and long-term outcomes of their breast cancer.  The project aims to help fill the gaps of missing information about breast cancer patients in Northern BC while identifying their disparities between cancer patients in the southern parts of the province. Formally documenting this information helps to identify the changes that need to be made in order to achieve true equity in breast cancer care in Canada - regardless of where a patient may live.