Winnipeg Hosts 5th World Conference on Breast Cancer
Delegates from 32 countries, including Australia, England, France, China, Egypt, and Nigeria – along with those from across Canada and the USA – joined together to participate in the Fifth World Conference on Breast Cancer, June 4th to 8th, 2008. The approximately 550 delegates consisted of breast cancer survivors, their families and friends, health care workers, service providers, volunteers, public educators, researchers, community organizations, and scientists, all sharing perspectives on prevention, diagnosis, treatment and research, and all helping make the Conference truly multicultural.
The theme of the conference, ‘Heart, Soul & Science: It’s a Small World After All’, was chosen to highlight personal, spiritual and cultural aspects of breast cancer, as well as the medical and scientific. Barbara Shumeley, president of the WCBC Foundation, remarked that this year’s conference gave survivors equal status with social service, medical and scientific experts, since survivors could provide “a comprehensive, holistic look at the human response to breast cancer, the progress we have made and the work that still needs to be done.”
Keynote speakers included Dr. Annie Sasco, Research Director of the World Health Organization, who spoke on the worldwide issue of breast cancer as a threat to women’s health; Dr. Lovell Jones of the USA reporting on research into treatment issues for minority communities; Dr. Jeff Dunn of Australia pointing up the need for and function of peer support; and Dr. William Foulkes of Canada discussing hereditary breast cancer.
A four-day slate of presentations and activities left little down time but, by the looks of those in attendance, this was just fine – as they hustled from one workshop to another. A sampling of the workshops/presentations: breast cancer and heredity, environmental factors and breast cancer, reconstructive surgery, lymphedema intervention, how healing arts can contribute to recovery, and multicultural breast health, to name just a few. Several breast cancer organizations from outside North America discussed the progress being made by their groups. There was also a wellness component woven into the mix, as the physical, psychological, spiritual and cultural aspects were addressed either by presentations or activities like dragon boating, yoga or healing through music.
BCAM was well-represented at this year’s conference. Carol Secter and I gave an hour-long presentation followed by a question-and-answer session on the topic, “The Beast of Beauty: Toxic Chemicals in Cosmetics”. Carol also represented BCAM at the Youth Day—Hope for Tomorrow assembly as well as participating as a speaker on a panel discussing environmental issues and breast cancer.