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Educational materials for patients and families

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There is a wealth of good information and reading material about breast cancer on the web; it can also be overwhelming.

Here are some articles and resources that have been created or adapted by the PYNK team, including medical oncologist Dr. Ellen Warner and clinical psychologist Dr. Karen Fergus. A curated selection of articles from Sunnybrook’s Your Health Matters site and other trusted websites are also included.

» Fertility and pregnancy

Breast cancer and fertility: A short article by Dr. Ellen Warner about how breast cancer treatments can affect fertility, and what can be done about it.

» Fertility and cancer treatment
This video about fertility and cancer treatment was produced in collaboration by University Health Network’s Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and Sick Kids hospital.

Breast cancer and breastfeeding: This article from the Breastfeeding Medicine journal discusses the effects of breast cancer and its treatments on breastfeeding. It provides protocols for care of breastfeeding women who have been, or are currently being treated for, breast cancer.

» Genetics

This video, created by Sunnybrook’s Cancer Genetics & High-Risk Program, provides some background information on cancer and genes. It reviews how hereditary cancer risk assessments are done based on personal and/or family history of cancer, who is eligible for genetic testing and what those results can be for a person and/or their family members.

» Lifestyle

Which lifestyle changes can help reduce the risk of breast cancer recurring? Dr. Ellen Warner explores which lifestyle changes breast cancer patients can make to reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence.

Audio: Busting myths about breast cancer and lifestyle changes: Interview with Dr. Ellen Warner on Calgary Today to set the record straight on which lifestyle changes really may reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence.

Tips for reducing chemotherapy weight gain during breast cancer treatment: Weight gain during chemotherapy is very common for women with breast cancer, and avoiding it is arguably one of the most important lifestyle changes they can make to improve their outcomes. In this article, Dr. Ellen Warner suggests ten ways to maintain a healthy weight.

Does sugar feed cancer?: This article examines the relationships between sugar, diet and cancer.

Should I get the flu shot if have cancer?: This article briefly discusses some facts about the flu vaccine.

» Treatment

Hormonal therapy

These printable pamphlets explain how various hormonal therapies work and the most common side effects.

» Treatment side effects

Menopause

Breast cancer and early menopause – a guide for younger women: This pamphlet was adapted by the PYNK team from one of the same name published by Cancer Australia. The resource explains menopause and its relationship with breast cancer treatments, explores common symptoms and suggests coping techniques.

Vaginal dryness

Vaginal dryness as a result of menopause can significantly alter a young woman’s quality of life. This pamphlet will explain the causes and symptoms of vaginal dryness, and suggest techniques to manage it and counteract its ill effects.

Fatigue

Video and resources: How to manage cancer-related fatigue: Fatigue is the most common symptom experienced by people with cancer. This whiteboard explainer video was produced by Dr. Mike Evans with support from the Odette Cancer Centre and the Canadian Cancer Society. It provides information about fatigue, and simple techniques to combat it. There are also links on the page to written information and resources on the subject.

» Body image

Body image after breast cancer – video and resources: Created by the PYNK team in collaboration with psychiatrist Dr. Mary Jane Esplen and her team, this resource and video thoroughly explore how body image is developed, changes during breast cancer, and can be managed.

» Sexuality and intimacy

Sexual changes associated with breast cancer: Both the physical and emotional impacts of breast cancer can affect a couple’s intimate relationship, as this article by Dr. Karen Fergus explains.

Let’s talk about sex – a cancer patient’s perspective: This frank piece by a cancer survivor talks about the impact cancer has on patients’ and survivors’ sexual experience, and the often inadequate treatment of this topic by healthcare providers.

» Psychosocial effects of cancer

Living with loss and uncertainty after diagnosis and treatment: Dr. Karen Fergus writes about the uniquely personal feelings and reactions to the changes associated with the diagnosis of breast cancer.

Anxiety and cancer: People with cancer often experience anxiety. This article provides a brief synopsis of anxiety symptoms and ways to deal with them.

Letting go of control and finding purpose in the randomness of cancer: Psychiatrist Dr. Ralph Lewis discusses letting go of control and focussing on the meaningful parts of life during his wife’s experience with breast cancer.

Cancer and the not-so-positive power of positive thinking: There’s lots of talk about 'staying positive' when it comes to cancer diagnosis and treatment. Here, Dr. Elie Isenberg-Grzeda, a psycho-oncologist at the Odette Cancer Centre, tackles a few of the common questions he receives about positive thinking and cancer.

NEVER TOO YOUNG – Psychosocial information and support for young women with breast cancer: This in-depth pamphlet, produced by the Canadian Breast Cancer Network, thoroughly discusses psychosocial issues that affect young women with breast cancer.

Facing cancer as a younger adult: This article discusses particular challenges for younger people with cancer.

» Breast cancer and relationships

With partner

I wish I could fix it: Information for partners of people with breast cancer: Adapted from the pamphlet by Breast Cancer Network Australia, this work discusses challenges faced by partners as they adapt to new roles and challenges in their lives and relationships while trying to support a spouse through the breast cancer journey.

Breast cancer and the couple relationship: Dr. Karen Fergus, on how couples can weather the storms of breast cancer together rather than having these stressors tear them apart. 

With children

Communicating with children about illness: In this article, Dr. Karen Fergus steps through childhood from infancy through the end of the teenage years, with age-appropriate suggestions about how to talk to children about illness, and how to interpret their cues and responses.

Supporting Your children through your diagnosis and treatment: Here Dr. Karen Fergus discusses a number of ways to help kids deal with questions, experiences and behaviours (by children and their parents) that they are encountering as a result of their parent’s breast cancer.

How to talk to your children about your cancer by Laura Pasqualino, social worker. This short article gives some great tips and basic ideas in point form.

Talking to your children about cancer: Elaine Rapp, a social worker in the Odette Cancer Program, provides a brief guide to the basics of how to tell your child about your cancer and its implications for your family.​

The kids’ guide to mommy's breast cancer: Published by RETHINK breast cancer, and available in print as well as online, this booklet uses engaging illustrations and clear simple language to introduce kids to the basics of breast cancer in a factual and non-scary way.

With others

Relating to family and friends when you have breast cancer: In this article Dr. Karen Fergus addresses some of the many issues that come up between women with breast cancer, their family and friends. From asking for emotional and practical support, to dealing with insensitive remarks and other people’s feelings, cancer can complicate relationships.

Triggers that remind me of my daughter's cancer are everywhere: this highly relatable article in Cure magazine is written from the perspective of a mother who functioned as a caregiver for her daughter through her cancer treatment journey.

» Metastatic breast cancer

Newly diagnosed: A brief introduction for those newly diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer

Remembering the 'forgotten stage' of breast cancer: This article describes the experiences of a woman with stage 4 breast cancer.

'I don't have time for this: Diagnosed with breast cancer when you least expect it' (video)
A 45 minute documentary about five courageous and tenacious young women who will not let breast cancer get in the way of their lives – they simply don't have time for it. They've got too much to live for. Lumpectomies, mastectomies, chemotherapy, radiation, egg extraction, treatment schedules, menopause – who's got the time? This documentary was produced by Big Coat Productions, originally premiering on W Network on October 23, 2010