Northwestern cancer center holds annual town hall on breast cancer

Rosalie Chan, Reporter

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Northwestern’s Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center held its annual town hall meeting on breast cancer Sunday.

At the Lynn Sage Breast Cancer Town Hall, participants asked experts questions and learned more about breast cancer resources. The meeting, which took place in the Arthur Rubloff Building at NU’s Chicago campus, gave information about local and national organizations that help breast cancer patients and survivors.

“It’s something we’ve done for a decade, every year,” said Feinberg Prof. William Gradishar, who specializes in hematology and oncology. “It’s an open forum for patients. Patients and their families are given an opportunity to ask whatever questions they want, and that’s essentially what we do.”

Dr. Christy Tangney of Rush University Medical Center attended the meeting to promote her diet, activity and lifestyle study, which looks at the physical activity and diet of breast cancer survivors in relation to perceived risk of recurrence. Tangney’s mother is a breast cancer survivor.

“Many of my students have family members who are breast cancer survivors, and they want to help them,” Tangney said.  “I think it’s important to talk to people about it. It’s one of the reasons I love going to events like these.”

Weinberg senior Megan Goss also attended the town hall to promote the NU swimming and dive team’s Breaststroke4BreastCancer fundraiser on Wednesday. Goss said about 160 people have already signed up to come to the event.

“It’s a pretty big cause for our swim team,” she said. “My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago, and other teammates know people who have been affected by it. It’s something our whole team feels strongly about.”

Gradishar, who moderated the annual meeting, said about 300 to 400 people attend every year. The town hall is a good place for people to voice concerns and invalidate myths, Gradishar said.

Various experts discussed different topics at the event, including managing symptoms of menopause, dealing with stress during and after treatment, understanding breast cancer genetics and new breast cancer therapies and new additions to the operating room.

Diane Lundy Walker, a nine-year breast cancer survivor, has attended the event each of those nine years. She has also volunteered for various organizations that support those with breast cancer. Walker said the event was a great opportunity for patients to be educated about the condition.

“The month of October is one of the greatest things that can happen for people with breast cancer,” Walker said.  “If you’re a person interested in learning, you come get all you can and give it back to others.”

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