Breast cancer sufferer fast-tracks plans to end life at Dignitas

Health insurance, The patient was treated at the hospital with the health of the insured.
A breast cancer sufferer said she has brought forward her plans to travel to Dignitas in Switzerland due to the impending second lockdown in England. (Stock picture: Getty)

A 45-year-old woman suffering from breast cancer has fast-tracked her plans to end her life at Swiss clinic Dignitas due to “antiquated laws” and the impending second national lockdown in England.

The British woman has reportedly been granted a special waiver by the Swiss government to allow her to travel to Switzerland for a final appointment at the euthanasia clinic near Zurich without having to self-isolate for 10 days.

The woman told the Sunday Times she has brought her plans forward to avoid an “agonising, protracted death” due to the UK’s ban on assisted dying as well as the imminent second national lockdown, set to start on Thursday.

This picture taken on July 14, 2009 shows the building of the assisted suicide clinic, Dignitas in Pfaeffikon near Zurich. A renowned British conductor and his wife have died in the assisted suicide clinic Dignitas in Switzerland, their family said. Edward Downes, 85, was almost blind and deaf, and his 74-year-old wife Joan was terminally ill when they chose to end their lives, a statement released to the BBC said. AFP PHOTO/ SEBASTIAN DERUNGS (Photo credit should read SEBASTIAN DERUNGS/AFP via Getty Images)
The Dignitas clinic near Zurich, where the woman plans to go. (Stock picture: Getty)

Writing in the newspaper, she said she felt she should go now, before she was “truly ready”, saying that coronavirus regulations would mean she would be “forced to die in the presence of strangers, in unfamiliar surroundings, without my husband, family or friends to comfort me”.

The woman, who previously worked as a senior mental health professional in the NHS, said the current UK laws that rule assisted suicide illegal and punishable by up to 14 years in prison have created a ‘cruel’ situation and said she had been met by a “wall of silence” when trying to discuss the issue with medics.

She said: “When I have attempted to speak openly about what I feel is a perfectly rational desire to avoid a traumatic death, I have been met by a wall of silence from doctors.”

Watch: Assisted dying could be legalised in the UK within four years

She told the Sunday Times that she was diagnosed with stage four secondary breast cancer last September, then learned in August that it had spread to her liver.

She said she is in considerable pain and suffers from extreme fatigue and nausea, and is likely to die from blood poisoning, suffocation or strokes due to cancerous tumours in her brain.

The woman told the newspaper she “desperately wants to live” but since she cannot she is trying to seek an option that will allow her a peaceful death – something that is currently impossible due to UK laws.

Watch: What is long COVID?

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Mary J. Blige and other women touched by breast cancer talk importance of screening

The nine-time Grammy Award-winning singer said in an interview with “Good Morning America” that highlighting the illness is important to her because of the racial disparity in breast cancer death rates.

Higher death rates from the disease for Black women are due to several factors, according to the American Cancer Society’s biennial update on female breast cancer statistics in the U.S.

Some include “later stage at diagnosis and other unfavorable tumor characteristics, higher prevalence of obesity and comorbidities, as well as less access to timely and high‐quality prevention, early detection, and treatment services.”

Blige partnered with the Black Women’s Health Imperative (BWHI), RAD-AID and Hologic, Inc. for the P.O.W.E.R. of Sure campaign in hopes of giving women necessary information about breast cancer screening and why it’s so important.

Women who have battled the disease or who are currently battling the disease are also sharing more about their cancer journeys in the campaign.

The importance of getting screened: ‘Do it even when you’re scared’

Blige said she feels “a lot of fears and barriers” affect whether or not a woman will prioritize getting screened. After losing an aunt to breast cancer, the singer says she now believes a lack of awareness toward screening played
a role in her loved one’s battle with cancer.

“I believe if she had this information that she would be here today — the importance of a mammogram,” the singer said. “When we were growing up, no one spoke about a mammogram, breast cancer — anything like that.”

The singer recalled having many fears going into her first mammogram after losing her aunt and wondering whether it was going to hurt or if she was going to be diagnosed.

“Once I went into the office and went to the procedure, I realized that it was nothing to it,” she said. “It wasn’t painful, it was just a little discomfort on each breast for a second or two, and then it was over.”

She emphasized how she received early results following her Genius 3D Mammography exam and even called the screening “enlightening.” She also said it made her want to know more about her health.

Kimberly Wortham-Macon, a mother of three, is fighting breast cancer and is featured in the campaign along with Blige. She is also adamant about emphasizing the importance of getting checked.

She said she had been considering putting off her mammogram because of the pandemic but quickly took action and went in for a screening after feeling a lump in her right breast. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in July at the age of 40.

PHOTO: Kimberly Wortham-Macon opened up on her battle with breast cancer for the P.O.W.E.R. of Sure campaign.

Kimberly Wortham-Macon

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The Oncology Institute of Hope and Innovation Treats Its 150,000th Patient as It Commemorates Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Since its founding in 2007, The Oncology Institute has been a leader in advancing cancer care and conducted numerous breast cancer clinical trials

The Oncology Institute of Hope and Innovation (TOI), one of the largest community-based oncology practices in the US, recently welcomed its 150,000th patient since its founding in August 2007.

It is fitting that this milestone was reached during Breast Cancer Awareness Month given TOI’s commitment to advancing treatment for breast cancer patients. TOI has treated nearly 13,000 breast cancer patients since opening its doors in 2007 and is currently conducting more than a dozen clinical trials on leading-edge treatments for a variety of breast cancers through its research arm – The Innovative Clinical Research Institute.

“Here at TOI we believe every patient deserves access to state-of-the-art cancer care in their local community,” said Brad Hively, CEO at TOI. “We are proud to have reached this milestone and look forward to bringing our personalized, compassionate care to patients across the country.”

About The Oncology Institute of Hope and Innovation

Founded in 2007, The Oncology Institute of Hope and Innovation (TOI) is one of the largest community oncology practice in the US and the nation’s leading value-based oncology services platform. TOI employs 75 physicians and mid-level practitioners in 40 clinic locations, with more than 500 total employees helping to offer leading-edge, evidence-based cancer care to a population of more than 1.5 million patients. TOI brings comprehensive, integrated cancer care into community settings, including clinical trials, palliative care programs, stem cell transplants, transfusions, and other care delivery models traditionally associated with the most advanced tertiary care settings. For more information visit www.theoncologyinstitute.com.

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New Thermography Shows Efficacy for Breast Cancer Screening

Sensitivity and area under the curve (AUC) analyses of thermography that is combined with diagnostic software demonstrate “the efficacy of the tool for breast cancer screening,” concludes an observational, comparative study from India published online October 1 in JCO Global Oncology, a publication of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

Siva Teja Kakileti of Niramai Health Analytix, Koramangala, Bangalore, India, and colleagues say that the product, Thermalytix, is potentially a good fit for low- and middle-income countries because it is portable and provides automated quantitative analysis of thermal images ― and thus can be conducted by technicians with “minimal training.”

Conventional thermography involves manual interpretation of complex thermal images, which “often results in erroneous results owing to subjectivity,” say the study authors.

That manual interpretation of thermal images might involve looking at 200 color shades, which is “high cognitive overload for the thermographer,” explained Kakileti in an email to Medscape Medical News.

However, an American mammography expert who was approached for comment dismissed thermography ― even with the new twist of software-aided diagnostic scoring by Thermalytix ― as wholly inappropriate for the detection of early breast cancer, owing to inherent limitations.

“Thermal imaging of any type has no value in finding early breast cancer,” Daniel Kopans, MD, of Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, told Medscape Medical News in an email. He said that thermal imaging only detects heat on the skin and perhaps a few millimeters beneath the skin and thus misses deeper cancers, the heat from which is carried away by the vascular system.

The new study included 470 women who presented for breast screening at two centers in Bangalore, India. A total of 238 women had symptoms such as breast lump, nipple discharge, skin changes, or breast pain; the remaining 232 women were asymptomatic.

All participants underwent a Thermalytix test and one or more standard-of-care tests for breast cancer screening (such as mammography, ultrasonography, biopsy, fine-needle aspiration, or elastography). A total of 78 women, or 16.6% of the group overall, were diagnosed with a malignancy.

For the overall group of 470 women, Thermalytix had a sensitivity of 91.02% (symptomatic, 89.85%; asymptomatic,100%) and a specificity of 82.39% (symptomatic, 69.04%; asymptomatic, 92.41%) in detection of breast malignancy. Thermalytix showed an overall AUC of 0.90, with an AUC of 0.82 for symptomatic and 0.98 for asymptomatic women.

The study authors characterized both the sensitivity and AUC as “high.”

The results from the study, which the authors characterized as preliminary, encouraged the study sponsor, Niramai, to start planning a large-scale, multicountry trial.

But Kopans, who serves as a consultant to DART Inc, which produces digital breast tomosynthesis units in China, suggested that this research will be fruitless. “Thermal imaging seems to raise its head every few years since it is passive, but it does not work and is a waste of money,” Kopans reiterated.

“Its use can be dangerous by dissuading women from being screened with mammography which has been proven to save lives,” he stressed.

Thermalytix

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One Houston woman’s inspiring battle against breast cancer

“Do or do not. There is no try.”

Houston’s Zulia Mejia leans on the simple yet powerful message from Yoda to get her through her battle with cancer.

“Yoda uses the force, I turn to God as my force,” Mejia said. She is battling invasive ductal carcinoma HER3 negative stage 3C breast cancer, but was happy to share with Chron that she is cancer-free at the moment.

Mejia is the epitome of a warrior ready for battle. Her life changed after her diagnosis. A single mother of two young children, Sabían, 13, and Zuly Estela, 7, she had no choice but to lace up her gloves for the fight of her life.

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“What made me go and check it out was a lump I had noticed in my left breast back in October 2019,” Mejia said. “Being 39 at the time, I thought, I’ll be going to get a mammogram soon, and I’m sure it’s nothing to worry about.”

According to Mejia, she kept an eye on it, but the lump continued to grow. Around the same time, Mejia was faced with having her gallbladder removed, shifting her focus from her breast to that surgery.

“After my recovery from my gallbladder surgery in January, I made an appointment with my OB/GYN letting him know that there was a lump growing fast that needed to be looked at,” she said.

Zulia Mejia was inspired to do this photoshoot with the encouragement of Hector Martinez of Herobuilt.

Zulia Mejia was inspired to do this photoshoot with the encouragement of Hector Martinez of Herobuilt.

Courtesy: Hector Martinez/Herobuilt

March 4, 2020 is a day that Mejia will never forget.

“I had my mammogram in February of this year, and I got the call in March from my breast specialist that I had cancer.”

Overwhelmed and scared were some of the words this 40-year-old mother used to describe the roller coaster of emotions going through her mind.

“I’m a single parent. No one in my family has it. What am I supposed to do? And then I said to myself what I’m supposed to do is accept what it is and move forward. You have to be strong because you have children that need you,” Mejia said.

Mejia and her two children, Sabian and Zuly Estella.

Mejia and her two children, Sabian and Zuly Estella.

Nina Hernández from Texas Coastal Photography

It’s that mentality that helped Mejia push on.

“After being diagnosed, I went in, and I asked, okay what do we do next?” Mejia said. “What’s the point of attack? What do I need to do because I’m ready to put it behind me.”

In April, Mejia began cancer treatment.

“It was almost a blessing in disguise when COVID hit,” she said. “I wasn’t required to be at work and didn’t have many days to take off.”

The next few months were full of chemotherapy treatments.

“Right after treatments, I chose to have a double mastectomy surgery on September 17, and that’s the process that I am at right now. I am healing,” Mejia said. “Having my breasts is part

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Rihanna’s latest Savage X Fenty campaign stars Black breast cancer survivors

Written by Jacqui Palumbo, CNN

Rihanna is using her latest Savage X Fenty campaign to shine a spotlight on Black breast cancer survivors.

In support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the singer’s lingerie brand asked three “survivors and thrivers” to model new styles from a capsule collection that will directly benefit the Clara Lionel Foundation, a charity founded by Rihanna in 2012. A press statement said that Savage X Fenty will donate a portion of the proceeds — up to $250,000 in total — to help the organization fund cancer research and support for Black people diagnosed with the disease.
Leiva, one of the three models, wanted her scars to be shown in photos. "I do not see my scars as scars," she said in an e-mail. "I look at them as my handmade jewerly pieces ... reminding me and others I am here and thriving."

Leiva, one of the three models, wanted her scars to be shown in photos. “I do not see my scars as scars,” she said in an e-mail. “I look at them as my handmade jewerly pieces … reminding me and others I am here and thriving.” Credit: Courtesy of Savage x Fenty

The campaign photographs feature Cayatanita Leiva and Ericka Hart, both 34, and Nykia McKenzie, 26, wearing the collection’s sporty new styles against draped pink fabric. Each model had a hand in how they were presented, either taking the pictures themselves or with the help of a loved one.

Hart, who posed in a gray bralette and panty set, was diagnosed with two types of breast cancer at once: HER2-positive and triple-negative. The model credited the Black femme and queer communities with being a source of support.

“The Savage X Fenty campaign was affirming of my experience as not just a breast cancer survivor but all of my intersections of identity as a Black, queer, non-binary femme,” Hart said in an email interview.

“Many cancer campaigns focus on one aspect, your chronic illness but not how your various identities play a role in how you navigate cancer … I also loved that the campaign didn’t focus on poses that focused on strength as the sole image for living with breast cancer, but rather is just showcasing people who want to share their experience to make a difference for someone else.”

McKenzie, 26, models for the new Savage X Fenty campaign.

McKenzie, 26, models for the new Savage X Fenty campaign. Credit: Courtesy of Savage x Fenty

Rihanna has focused on Savage X Fenty’s inclusive appeal since launching the lingerie brand, a follow up to Fenty Beauty, in 2018. The product range caters to a variety of “nude” skin tones, and offers a wide range of sizes. Her two runway shows to date, both held at recent editions of New York Fashion Week, grabbed attention for their theatrical performances and representation of diverse body types, ethnicities and genders, in stark contrast to the kind of lingerie shows the industry is accustomed to.
“My vision for the Savage X brand has always been having women feel confident and expressing themselves,” she said earlier this year, in a behind-the-scenes video following the second of her brand’s runway shows.

A striking disparity

As well as offering visibility to three individual Black breast cancer survivors, the campaign also brings attention to what it calls

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COVID-19 Related Breast Cancer Surgery Delays Could Result in Nearly 3,000 Additional Deaths Over a 10 Year Period

Delays in treatment also place patients at higher risk of metastasis, increasing cost of care by more than $375 million during that time

Delays in breast cancer surgery due to the COVID-19 pandemic could lead to an additional 2,797 deaths over the next decade according to Kantar Health, a leading global healthcare data, analytics and research provider, Delays in treatments could result in an additional $376 million in treatment costs over that time period due to more patients developing metastasis. The analysis, released as part of World Breast Cancer Awareness Month, is based on Kantar Health’s CancerMPact® Patient Metrics database, a decision support resource for oncology market analysis, strategic planning and identifying commercial opportunities.

Research from the American Association of Cancer Research found that 32% of those who were diagnosed with breast cancer reported a delay in care. Of these patients, 22% reported a delay in screening and 9.3% reported a delay in treatment.

Kantar Health’s CancerMPact Patient Metrics database1 estimates the incidence of breast cancer in the United States in 2020 to be 335,779. Of those, 319,700 patients will be diagnosed with non-metastatic disease. If these patients with non-metastatic disease receive appropriate and timely care, they have good potential for a positive outcome. However, delays in care, especially surgery, compromises this. For breast cancer, a delay in surgery of 60 days is estimated to cause an increase in the number of deaths of 4% and 7% at five and ten years post-diagnosis respectively2.

Based on Kantar Health’s estimates of the total annual number of new cancer patients, it is expected that the number of patients diagnosed with non-metastatic during the first three months of the pandemic totaled 79,925 patients.

Of these patients, Kantar Health forecasts that deaths among breast cancer patients could increase by 1,598 deaths five years post-diagnosis and 2,797 deaths ten years post-diagnosis.

Further, Kantar Health expects an excess in the overall costs of cancer treatment due to COVID-19, as a proportion of patients will develop metastasis over the course of their disease. In the five years post-COVID-19, additional costs will total $215.2 million for breast cancer patients. In ten years, this number could almost double, to $376.7 million for breast cancer care.

“The effects of the pandemic will be felt deeply in many disease areas, but none more so than in oncology,” said Jeremy Brody, Chief Strategy Officer, Kantar Health. “It is important that patients continue to maintain their regular appointments and screenings to detect and treat breast cancer. The COVID-19 global pandemic needs to be a catalyst for the healthcare system to seek new ways to reach patients and ensure early detection screenings continue.”

Refs

  1. CancerMPact Patient Metrics Database [Internet]. Kantar Health. 2020 [cited May, 2020]. Available from: www.cancermpact.com.

  2. Bleicher RJ, Ruth K, Sigurdson ER, Beck JR, Ross E, Wong YN, et al. Time to Surgery and Breast Cancer Survival in the United States. JAMA oncology. 2016;2(3):330-9.

About Kantar Health

Kantar Health, a division of Kantar, provides data, analytics and

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Olivia Newton-John talks new foundation and shares advice to women fighting breast cancer

Olivia Newton-John continually uses her platform to advocate for cancer research and now she is taking it a step further with the launch of her new foundation.

The four-time Grammy Award-winning singer and actress, who is currently battling breast cancer for the third time, launched the Olivia Newton-John Foundation this month to fund research for treatments and therapies to cure cancer.

The star was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992 and again in 2013. She revealed in 2018 that the disease returned and metastasized to her spine.

In a recent interview with “Good Morning America,” the actress, 72, revealed she is “feeling really good” and spoke about what led her to launch this new charity.

“I feel really positive and very excited about bringing this foundation and a lot of knowledge to people, and funding research to find out lots of answers — to find kinder treatments for cancer,” she shared.

“The inspiration has been a long one because I’ve been on this cancer journey for 28 years,” she added. “I’m a thriver of three times going through this process.”

MORE: Olivia Newton-John gives optimistic update on breast cancer diagnosis

Having gone through surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, she said she now is interested in funding treatments that aren’t as taxing to the body. “I’ve always thought, ‘Gosh, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could create kinder therapies that help boost the body’s immune system instead of knocking us down?'” she said.

PHOTO: Olivia Newton-John is photographed at her California home. (ONJ Foundation)
PHOTO: Olivia Newton-John is photographed at her California home. (ONJ Foundation)

Newton-John is an outspoken advocate for plant medicine and says that’s largely due to the influence of her husband, John Easterling. She affectionately calls him “Amazon John” because he spent several years in the Amazon rain forest learning about this type of medicine.

“I’m very lucky that I have him in my corner, and teaching me about the plants and the herbs,” she said. “He grows cannabis for me and I take tinctures that have helped me greatly.”

Ongoing efforts are being made to research what role cannabis may play in the future. “While some like Newton-John find relief of cancer-related pain and nausea from cannabis, it has not clinically proven to be the best choice,” according to health expert Dr. Imran Ali, a contributor to the ABC News Medical Unit.

Newton-John says she believes there is a significant lack of progress in research for these treatments.

“There are lots of ideas on how we can help people with cancer and treat cancer, but there’s been no real science behind the studies,” she explained. “So the idea is to raise money to fund the research on the other kinds of things that are kinder, including a lot of plant medicine.”

Newton-John is dedicating the foundation to all forms of cancer treatments — not just breast cancer research — because she dreams of one day “realizing a world beyond cancer.”

“That’s everything that drives me forward,” she said. “To think that we could help people to

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