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Breast cancer experts urge women to ‘get mad’ over new breast cancer screening guidelines

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Joanne Schnurr, CTV Ottawa


Published Thursday, January 17, 2019 5:56PM EST


Last Updated Thursday, January 17, 2019 6:05PM EST

Breast cancer experts say the lives of hundreds of Canadian women are at risk each year if Canada adopts new screening guidelines.

They’re urging women to “get angry” and fight to get these recommendations rejected. These experts say that 400 more Canadian women will die every year, the equivalent of two full airplanes, because of these new guidelines, announced in December; women in their 40’s and women with dense breast tissue who could benefit from early detection but won’t know they have cancer until it’s too late.

Rebecca Hollingsworth is a proud hockey mom, wife and sister and what she considers a lucky breast cancer survivor.

“There’s my sister and I when we were both in chemo,” she says as she looks through photos on her phone. Hollingsworth was just 44 years old when she noticed a lump a couple of years ago during a breast self-exam. 

“I kind of thought something didn’t feel quite right,” says the mother of 3, who is now 46.

A mammogram and then ultrasound revealed 6 cancerous tumors.  Within a week, her 40 year old sister, MaryEllen, would also be diagnosed. 

“We had different types,” says Hollingsworth, “Mine was large but not aggressive; it was a slower growing tumor but her cancer was small but aggressive.”

Both women were under 50, with dense breast tissue but no family history of breast cancer.

“These guidelines are very alarming to me,” says Hollingsworth, referring to the guidelines recommended just last month by the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care on Breast Screening.  Among the key recommendations:

  • no routine screening for women 40 to 49
  • no recommended clinical breast examinations to screen for breast cancer
  • no recommended self-exams to screen for breast cancer
  • screening with mammography every 2 to 3 years for women 50 to 69

The Canadian Task Force did not take into account breast tissue density, which Dr. Jean Seely, the Head of Breast Imaging with the Ottawa Hospital says is a significant risk factor for breast cancer, more important, she suggests, than family history.

“Breast tissue density increases the risk of breast cancer,” she says.

As for the recommendation against screening women in their 40’s, Dr. Seely says, “These guidelines, if adopted, will results in probably 400 lives lost every year to breast cancer. That’s equal to two airplane flights full of women dying from breast cancer unnecessarily every year.”

Dr. Seely says the Task Force ignored expert advice and based its findings on outdated data.

“Screening works. We have good data that shows that there are 40% fewer deaths from breast cancer when women are screened.  That’s on actual statistics and they did not use this data.”

In a statement, the Task Force on Preventive Health says it relied on “the latest, high-quality evidence about the benefits and harms of screening. Specifically, it relies upon evidence from randomized controlled trials, the gold standard for understanding the effects of healthcare interventions,” adding that it “sought and considered the input of many different stakeholders and was delighted to receive very positive comments on its guideline from many of Canada’s leading experts in cancer screening.”

Dr. Paula Gordon is with B.C’s Women’s Hospital Breast Program, “There are lives that could be saved and cancers that could be found earlier.”

She and other breast cancer experts are demanding federal and provincial governments reject the guidelines and urging Canadian women get involved.

“So this is why we need women to hear this important information,” says Dr. Gordon. “They’ve got to get mad and contact their MP’s and MPP’s.”

That’s what Rebecca and her sister plan to do.  They actually ended up in radiation at the same time.  Now, that incredibly strong bond that brought them through treatment together will carry them through the fight to help other women.

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List of Tourist Attractions Open Now in Ottawa

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With Ontario now in Step 3 of 2021 three-step plan for reopening, museums and other indoor attractions are allowed to reopen with capacity limited to not exceed 50 per cent capacity indoors and 75 per cent capacity outdoors.

Here is a list of Ottawa attractions you can visit starting July 16th.

Do remember to wear masks and buy tickets in advance.

Parliament Hill

Parliament’s Centre Block and Peace Tower are closed for renovation.

You can join for tours of the Senate of Canada Building (2 Rideau Street), House of Commons at West Block (111 Wellington Street) on Parliament Hill, and East Block at East Block (111 Wellington Street) on Parliament Hill.

When: Grounds open; guided tours of Parliament are suspended through the summer of 2021.
Where: 111 Wellington Street, Downtown Ottawa

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Ottawa performer leapfrogs from gymnastics to Broadway to TV

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A new AppleTV+ series set in a magical town that’s stuck in a neverending 1940s musical includes a pair of Ottawa siblings in the cast. 

Warren Yang and his sister, Ericka Hunter, play two of the singing, dancing residents of the village portrayed in Schmigadoon!, a small-screen series that takes its cues from classic musicals like Brigadoon, Wizard of Oz and Sound of Music, and skewers them with the offbeat comedic mastery of Saturday Night Live. 

In fact, you’ll recognize many of the names from SNL, starting with executive producer Lorne Michaels, creator of the late-night, live-comedy sketch show. Schmigadoon! also stars SNL cast member Cecily Strong and comedian Keegan-Michael Key, who hosted SNL in May. They play a New York couple who get lost on a hike and stumble into a strange town where everyone sings and dances. 

For Yang, a relative newcomer to show-biz, the series marks his television debut. For Hunter, the younger of his two older sisters, it’s the latest in a career path that began with dance lessons as a child more than 30 years ago. She attended Canterbury High School, Ottawa’s arts-focused secondary school. 

“Her dream was always to perform,” said Yang, 34, in an interview. “But that was never the path I thought was an option for me.” 

While his sister studied dance, Yang did gymnastics. He was an elite gymnast throughout his youth, ultimately leaving Merivale High School at 16 to train in Montreal, finishing high school through correspondence courses. He was a member of the Canadian National Team and received a scholarship to study at Penn State, majoring in marketing. 

A few years after graduation, Yang was working at an advertising agency in Toronto when he got a call from a Manhattan number. To his astonishment, they asked if he would be interested in auditioning for a Broadway revival of Miss Saigon.

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COVID-19: uOttawa to require vaccination for students living in residence

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Vaccination will be mandatory for students who want to live in residence at the University of Ottawa this year, with proof of vaccination and at least one dose required before move-in, or within two weeks of doing so if they can’t secure a shot before arriving.

Those who can’t receive a vaccine for “health-related reasons or other grounds protected under the Ontario Human Rights Code” will be able to submit a request for accommodation through the university’s housing portal, according to information on the university’s website.

Students with one dose living in residence will also have to receive their second dose “within the timeframe recommended by Ottawa Public Health.”

People who haven’t been granted an exemption and don’t get vaccinated or submit proof of having done so by the deadlines set out by the school will have their residence agreements terminated, uOttawa warns.

“Medical and health professionals are clear that vaccination is the most (effective) means of protecting people and those around them,” reads a statement provided to this newspaper by uOttawa’s director of strategic communications, Patrick Charette.

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“It is precisely for this reason that the University of Ottawa is requiring all students living in residence for the 2021-2022 academic year to be fully vaccinated. The University recognizes that some students may require accommodations for a variety of reasons and will be treating exceptions appropriately.”

Faculty, staff and students are also strongly encouraged to get vaccinated, the statement notes.

“Ensuring a high vaccine coverage in all communities is critical to ensuring an ongoing decline in cases and ending the pandemic. This will be especially important with the return of students to post-secondary institutions in our region in the fall of 2021.”

Neither Carleton University nor Algonquin College is currently mandating vaccination for students living in residence, according to the websites for both schools. But uOttawa isn’t alone in its policy – Western University, Trent University, Durham College and Fanshawe College have all implemented similar requirements. Seneca College, in the GTA, is going even further, making vaccination mandatory for students and staff to come to campus, in-person, for the fall term.

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