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New Rose Ages Breast Health Centre a game changer

The breast cancer patient Tanya O’Brien is happily smiling.

The new Rose Ages Breast Health Centre has given hope to patients like Tanya O’Brien, who has many family members who have had breast cancer.

Six years ago, Tanya O’Brien’s worst fear became a reality. A radiologist noticed some calcifications in her mammogram that required a biopsy. And then the biopsy showed she had breast cancer.

“Hearing that you have cancer is like watching yourself in a bad movie,” said Tanya. “Everything is suddenly in slow motion, except for your brain, which races into overdrive. Everything suddenly becomes a question. Is it everywhere? Will I die? What will happen to my family?”

Tanya’s family history had already caused her fear that this day would come. By the time she was 41, she had had one cousin pass away, two more cousins with lumps, one who had a preventative mastectomy, an aunt who passed away and two aunts who were finishing radiation.

“For as long as I was old enough to understand what was happening to my family, I feared cancer,” she said. “My fear could stop me in my tracks and ruin a perfectly good day in a second. It stole years of my life.”

Tanya, and the thousands of other people who will hear the words “you have breast cancer,” were the driving force behind the creation of the new Rose Ages Breast Health Centre.

Newly opened in the fall, the Breast Health Centre features state-of-the-art equipment and will provide a more efficient, comforting experience for those going through diagnosis or treatment. It’s a revolution in breast health that will benefit patients in the region for the next 30 years.

“It’s a little hard to believe it’s finally happening,” said Dr. Jean Seely, Head of the Breast Imaging Section in the Department of Medical Imaging. “We’re just so thankful to the community, and happy to see patients benefit from this new, efficient and beautiful space.”

Efficient care

The new comprehensive centre offers expertise in breast imaging, diagnosis, risk assessment, surgical planning and psychosocial support in a caring and efficient environment for people with breast cancer and other breast concerns.

New Breast Cancer Centre

The new centre was designed to be a peaceful, calm space and patients are finding it to be reassuring.

With both medical and radiation oncology already located at the Cancer Centre, patients can now go to only one place for their care, rather than several different sites. Overall, this greater access to care in one spot will lead to better communication and coordinated care amongst a patient’s numerous health-care professionals.

“Having one place where patients can come for various forms of diagnosis and treatment will make for a much more cohesive experience for both patients and staff,” said Dr. Amanda Roberts. “Patients who come here for care are often already stressed and going through a lot. Making their experience a little easier by giving them one place where they can come for all aspects of their care will hopefully take one more thing off their mind. As care providers, we’re also able to provide faster care to more people, by simply being available more often due to proximity.”

With the Breast Health Centre located at the General Campus in the Cancer Centre, on the 4th floor, patients are closer to the areas where they may have appointments or other forms of treatment. This makes their journey more cohesive because everything is in one location.

All regular breast screening mammography appointments will continue to take place at The Ottawa Hospital’s Hampton Park Breast Screening Program location (1419 Carling Ave., Suite 214).

A peaceful environment

Dr. Seely finds the aesthetic appeal of the new centre particularly helpful, and she is not alone. When Brenda Burney first entered the new Breast Health Centre, she was comforted by the level of calm she felt.

“From the moment I walked in, the space just felt so calm, reassuring and professional,” said Brenda. “It was bright, clean and much more cheerful than you would expect of a medical space. I think that makes a big difference to the people coming here.”

Brenda, who is currently undergoing treatment for breast cancer, noticed the brightness of the space right away. According to Dr. Seely, that is all part of the therapeutic environment that the centre creates.

“The environment of this new space is beautiful,” said Dr. Seely. “It has lots of natural light entering the space through more windows, as well as natural colours and wooden features. While this may not seem like the most important aspect of a caring environment, this kind of atmosphere can be therapeutic for patients and feel less clinical. The space can have a profound effect on their mental wellbeing.”

Patients will also spend more time in a specialized care area, rather than in general hospital spaces where people from all walks of life and with different kinds of illnesses are visiting as well. For Brenda, it helped to be surrounded by people on a similar journey as her.

“Patients in any hospital are all going through a different journey, at different stages of their lives,” she explained. “Sitting in a waiting room with people who are going through something similar to you is reassuring. To me, it was a safe space.”

Not possible without the community

Dr Jean Seely

Dr. Jean Seely is grateful to community donors who have made the new Rose Ages Breast Health Centre a reality.

Dr. Seely herself devoted more than 10 years to make this new centre a reality. In addition to her and her team’s work, she credits community support for making this happen.

“This new Breast Health Centre was created entirely through community fundraising,” said Dr. Seely. “It’s a testament to the generosity of the Ottawa region, that they were able to come together and make something that is going to make a difference in the lives of so many people. Our city should be very proud!”

On the opening day of the new Breast Health Centre, Tanya was reminded of her family members who would have benefited from the centre, and how it could have made a difference.

“We have come so far as a community in changing the narrative of breast cancer,” she said. “Today, my aunt might still have had a fighting chance. She might not have been so afraid. Together, we have given people like me, like us, so much hope.”

Want to help expand breast health services in the Ottawa region? Please donate to The Ottawa Hospital.


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