Breast cancer awareness

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. As many of you know, it’s been almost 12 years since I had my last treatment for breast cancer. That is if you don’t count the hormone therapy which continued on for another 8 years. But, I don’t count that because it was preventative to help lower the risk of a recurrence. So far so good, knock on wood.

I have been very fortunate. Many others have not. The month of October is to help raise awareness, but it should really be all year round. According to the Canadian Cancer Society, 1 in 8 Canadian women will develop breast cancer during their lifetime, and 1 in 34 will die from it. Even with all the fundraising and research over the years, still the stats have not changed. Hence, we’ve all been touched by this disease whether it’s you yourself, a loved one, a dear friend, a neighbour, a coworker, even someone famous that you’ve never met but admire.

Photo of woman from the back with her arm on her head

Cancer care

I’m always drawn to and thankful for the organizations, programs, and practitioners who treat and care for the “person” living with the disease and not just the disease. There are so many great ones out there. Here are a few I’d like to highlight.

Rethink Breast Cancer focuses on historically underserved groups: people diagnosed at a younger age, those with metastatic breast cancer, and people systemically marginalized due to race, income or other factors. Rethink uplifts, inspires and most importantly, rethinks breast cancer to help people live better and live longer.

Dense breasts

Jennie Dale and Dr. Paula Gordon, along with many others at Dense Breasts Canada are teaching us how to advocate for ourselves when it comes to our own breast health. Did you know that the decision to start screening at the age of 40 is yours and yours alone? Your healthcare provider may not even be aware of this. Dense breasts increase your risk for breast cancer and make it difficult for breast cancer to be seen on a mammogram. There are categories for breast density with A being less dense up to a D for extremely dense. The level of density is determined by the radiologist during your mammogram.

I had no idea about this grading system until speaking with Jennie and subsequently having Dr. Gordon do a presentation in the COKANNA Coffee Shop. Up until that point, I had only been told I have dense breasts. And speaking of advocating for yourself, after asking my doctor, the clinic, and a few technicians for my density level, I finally managed to get a copy of my most recent mammogram report and guess what? No letter grade. Thankfully another helpful technician was willing to dig back in my file and found a mammogram report from 2019 that stated my breast density is indeed a D. I have to admit it feels like a failing grade. But, now I know and I can continue to advocate for supplemental screening.

Other resources

Another great resource is a local practitioner in Ottawa: Beth Hoag, Physiotherapist. She focuses on cancer rehabilitation and uses a “whole person” approach. Her goal is to empower you to live with connection, comfort, and confidence after a cancer diagnosis.

Also Head Start is a wonderful program for women newly diagnosed with breast cancer. It helps you feel less alone, confused, and overwhelmed and better prepares you for what lies ahead. It is offered by The Centre for Health Innovation along with many other integrative cancer care services.

These are just a handful of programs and services that I have first hand knowledge and experience with. Since I’m 12 years out though, I’m sure there are many more organizations and practitioners doing wonderful work. If you know of any (anywhere in Canada), I invite you to add them in the comments.

My giveaway

For my part in giving back to the community and helping anyone going through a difficult diagnosis, I’m doing a Cancer Care Give*Away. I’ve done these in the past, but this time, I would like to giveaway 3 separate prizes:

The first is a hot pink Maddison bamboo zip-up top. It can be worn as a top or a jacket and has been designed with the needs of a woman living with breast cancer in mind.

The Maddison has a front zip closure making it easy to slip on and off. And the zipper has a fabric underlay making it soft against sensitive skin. The standup V-shaped neckline provides adequate coverage and protection for incisions and scars. The sleeves and armholes are generously cut for comfort.

The hi-lo hemline dips down in back to cover your bottom. And finally the bamboo French terry fabric is breathable and thermal regulating (keeps you warm in cool weather and vice versa). It’s everyday style that makes you look good and feel better.

Photo of Maddison bamboo zip-up in fiery fuchsia, back view

Back view of Maddison with hi-lo hemline

2nd prize is a light charcoal bamboo headscarf. It features a long tail at back to protect you from the sun or cool weather. The ties are longer in length so you can tie them at the back or to the side. The bamboo jersey is soft against your skin and breathable. Wear the headscarf on its own or as a base layer under a hat.

3rd prize is a dark charcoal bamboo cap. This style of cap is soft and breathable and gender neutral. Wear it slouchy style or fold it up so it’s more fitted to your head. You can mix & match the cap and headscarf together for warmth and different looks.

How to enter

I’m making this contest as easy as possible. Simply enter your name and email address which means you’ll be on my mailing list. And, I know…not another mailing list. But, it keeps you front of the line for any giveaways like this one, pre-order opportunities, sales, and special COKANNA events.

Cancer Care Give*Away

Of course, if you’ve received this blog post via email, then you’re already a subscriber and in the know. Thank you for being here! And you can still enter the giveaway.

Once you’ve entered your name and email, that’s it. That’s all you have to do. There’s no tagging friends, sharing, or liking my post or page on Facebook or Instagram, although if you’d like to do that, I’d be grateful.

Enter to win for yourself or someone you care about. All 3 prizes make thoughtful and caring gifts. You’ll also receive free shipping. Please note this contest is open to Canadian residents with a Canadian shipping address.

Enter to win

How to win

The 3 winners will be randomly chosen on October 30, 2023. I will contact the lucky winners by email. So please make sure your email address is current and correct and place me on your safe list so it doesn’t go to junkmail. And FYI, I will never ask for personal & confidential information like a credit card # over email or phone. Beware of giveaway scammers.

An announcement will also be posted on Facebook and Instagram. And, if you aren’t a winner, you’ll still receive a coupon for 15% off as a thank you for taking the time to enter and share your email with me.

That’s it. Keeping it as simple as possible.

Best of luck,

~ Colleen

Colleen Kanna

I’m a recovering Chartered Accountant and Breast Cancer Champion turned Fashion Designer. My COKANNA Canadian-made bamboo clothing is all about comfort and style. Giving back to the community is important to me so I support local breast cancer organizations who treat the whole person and not just the disease.