Oct 28 - Parker Message
Published Wednesday, December 6, 2023
Radialis One of Many Local Breast Cancer Care Advancements Over the Decades – Thanks to You
In October, some of the proceeds from the Thunder Bay 50/50 Draw are helping fund a new Radialis unit for our Hospital. What makes this technology so special is that it was developed right here in Thunder Bay.
Dr. Alla Reznik joined the Thunder Bay Regional Health Research Institute and Lakehead University in 2008 to research advanced imaging detectors such as solid state technologies for a type of nuclear imaging called positron-emission tomography (PET). She and a team of scientists including Dr. Oleksandr Bubon wanted to find a better way to detect breast cancer in women with dense breast tissue, where tumours can “hide” in traditional X-ray mammography images.
Their research led to the Radialis unit, an alternative to mammography that has the added benefit of being painless with no breast compression. Plus, it can potentially be used to screen for other cancers and even neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. The radioisotopes it will use are made at our cyclotron on Oliver Road.
This is just one example of the changes we’ve seen in breast cancer care. For over 30 years now, the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre and the hospitals before it have been on the leading edge of breast cancer screening, treatment, and research.
The Screen for Life Coach, which celebrates its 10th year of operations this year, is one of the symbols of our successes. It started with the Ontario Breast Screening Program (OBSP) in 1992 with a van and later a coach, travelling Northwestern Ontario to bring screening services to under-served/never-served women in their communities. Although the idea of a travelling coach almost routine in Ontario now, it was a major innovation at the time.
Breast cancer is still a terrible, terrible disease. But thanks to our efforts, more patients are getting screened, diagnosed earlier, and successfully treated. Most importantly, more women in Northwestern Ontario are now living with breast cancer than dying from it.
And I mean “our” efforts. The community including you and all of our donors has played a key role. Without you, we wouldn’t have funding for the Screen for Life Coach or the Linda Buchan Centre for Breast Screening and Assessment. Without you, we wouldn’t have the research programs that have brought so much hope to women – including Radialis. Without you, we wouldn’t have all the supports the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation funded over the years for breast cancer patients and survivors.
We are so lucky to have the staff that we do, developing these great programs. And we are so lucky to have donors like you, giving so much to ensure those programs have the funding they need. Your donations drive innovations and care programs that have made the difference for so many of our mothers, sisters, grandmothers, and daughters.
I encourage you to purchase your Thunder Bay 50/50 tickets to continue supporting regional breast cancer care and our new Radialis unit. You are clearly making a difference.
Chair, Health Sciences Foundation Board