At Beyond Breast Cancer, Dr. Maureen Leia-Stephen guides women through the survivorship experience. Because monitoring for recurrence is no longer enough. Breast cancer survivors deserve support focused on wellness, recovery, and coordination of care.

The breast cancer experience irrevocably changes a woman’s perspective about herself and her life. The impact of breast cancer extends beyond the physical, ad affects an individual’s emotional, psychosocial, financial, and sexual wellbeing. It may significantly impact career, quality of life, and daily living. Most women don’t just pick up where they left off once their initial treatment is completed. Survivorship is the next phase, and it’s entirely different for everyone.

With early diagnosis and current treatment protocols, the reported survival rate at 5 years is 89%. Although this is reassuring, the statistic underplays the individual cost of the disease. Studies have shown:

  • 100% experience sadness, grief, and 70% go on to have significant depression
  • 61% have insomnia and other sleep disorders
  • 43% experience a reduction in income and 30% attribute a lack of advancement in their career as a result of breast cancer
  • Fear of recurrence can be paralyzing for some. Enough, that many request to have their other “normal” breast removed, even though, for the most part, there is no survival benefit
  • All experience immediate, significant menopausal symptoms without the recourse of hormonal therapy
  • Many describe cognitive/memory issues which affect their ability to work
  • Many experience a low body image especially after mastectomy – some dress/undress in the dark and will not let their partner see them
  • 2 years after treatment, 70% of women report difficulties with sexuality
    • 82% decreased frequency of sex
    • 47% decreased ability to orgasm

This is NOT a comprehensive list.

In the past, follow up simply involved monitoring for cancer recurrence. Now, there’s been a paradigm shift, and follow up has broadened to a concern for wellness, recovery, and coordination of care.

Beyond Breast Cancer Society is a survivorship program offered to anyone who has been diagnosed with breast cancer and has completed active treatment.

It addresses the 5 key areas of survivorship.

1. Education/Information

All patients within our program fill out an extensive questionnaire which is then reviewed with Dr. Leia-Stephen during their initial consultation. A treatment summary and list of survivorship issues is then created. Communication and assessment are ongoing. This provides the opportunity for women to have their questions answered and acquire a better understanding of the disease.

2. Surveillance for Breast Cancer Recurrence or New Primary Cancers

Regular physical examinations and appropriate imaging (including mammograms, MRI, ultrasound) are part of long-term follow up. Patients will also be monitored for new symptoms. Depending on personal and family history, the risk of recurrence may be increased.

3. Assessment/Management of Physical/Psychosocial Long-Term/Late Effects

There are many physical and psychological symptoms that women deal with post-treatment. The survivorship program offers patients with support and resources to best manage those symptoms.

4. Health Promotion – Modifiable Risk Facts

We are strong advocates for cancer risk reduction strategies like lifestyle changes and exercise. Obesity increases the risk of recurrence, therefore diet and exercise, especially resistance training, are important ways to reduce that risk, in addition to supporting general health.

5. Care Coordination/Navigation

As part of the survivorship program, Dr. Leia-Stephen coordinates referrals to specialists depending on need. This may include: plastic surgeons, physiotherapists, nutritionists, genetic counselors etc.

If you’re interested in participating in the Beyond Breast Cancer Survivorship Program, you can ask your doctor to send us a referral. In addition to your referral, please complete the registration form below and submit it to our office.