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An Opportunity to Try to Improve the Quality of Life for Certain Breast Cancer Survivors

Each year, the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation-Prairies/NWT Region directs millions of dollars to breast cancer research and community projects through its granting programs. These programs are integral to fulfilling our mission and realizing our vision of a future without breast cancer.

The Region funds research grants, breast health education & awareness community grants and opportunity grants.  Opportunity grants are intended to support initiatives that fulfill the mission and objectives of the Foundation in the areas of health promotion and education across the full spectrum of breast cancer, including risk reduction, early detection, diagnosis, treatment and supportive care. 

One of the most recent opportunity grants the Region funded was The Lymphedema Management Symposium in Regina, SK on April 19th and 20th.  The Symposium is hosted by Continuing Physical Therapy Education, the Lymphedema Association of Saskatchewan and Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region.  The grant was submitted by Stacey Lovo Grona, Program Director for CPTE and Tracy Gardikiotis, Physical Therapist with special interest in lymphedema and a member of the planning committee.  Tracy explains that lymphedema is an abnormal build-up of lymphatic fluid in the tissues that causes swelling, most often in the arms or legs and says it can profoundly affect the quality of survivors’ lives. 

“Those who develop it have reported physical discomfort and pain, functional impairment at home and on the job, poor self-image, reduced self-esteem, interrupted relationships and financial burden.”

Gardikiotis says many health care providers are not well informed about lymphedema, so many breast cancer survivors don’t receive adequate education on the risk of developing the condition or ways to try to prevent it.

Lovo Grona says the symposium will provide an evidence-based update on management of all types of lymphedema to a target audience of physical therapists, physicians, occupational therapists, nurses, massage therapists, kinesiologists, podiatrists and policy makers.

She says the money from the Region’s grant will be used to keep the registration fees for the conference down, while facilitating a top-notch event with expert local, national and international speakers.

The women say they hope that through educating various health care professionals about lymphedema and its management, the conference will improve lymphedema awareness and treatment services offered across Saskatchewan, and in turn, help minimize the impact it has on breast cancer survivor’s lives.