PATIENT-CARE MANAGER and PATIENT
Judy-Lynn Mcgrath knows Sunnybrook from both sides: as a health-care professional and patient-care manager in Canada’s largest veterans care centre, but also as a breast cancer patient in the Odette Cancer Centre.
She credits early detection at Sunnybrook (which contributed to quick interventions and more treatment options) for saving her life. Within a week of a biopsy she had a lumpectomy and lymph nodes removed.
“During my treatments at the Odette Cancer Centre, I was treated professionally and respectfully and often with humour,” says Judy-Lynn, a lifelong vegetarian and fitness enthusiast with a family history of breast cancer. “I met many women at Odette and Wellspring, a cancer support network, who shared similar experiences and I found their strength remarkable and very inspiring. So much can be learned from each other, so many warm connections.”
Diagnosed two and a half years ago after a routine mammogram screening at 51, Judy-Lynn not only continued to work throughout her chemotherapy and radiation treatments, but also stayed on top of her vigorous passion for downhill mountain biking.
By continuing to do what she loves best during a challenging time, Judy-Lynn recovered quickly after surgery to face aggressive chemotherapy and radiation treatments while keeping her normal fitness and work routine.
“Keeping physically active helped me sleep, gave me an appetite and kept my mind focused and body strong, which was important to me. In downhill mountain biking you are going through trees, over jumps and rocks, down steep terrain and even ice and snow in the winter. It’s definitely very intense and technical,” says Judy-Lynn. She also rides cross-country trails year round and practices yoga daily.
For Judy-Lynn, the lesson is about pursuing what you love and never giving up. The great baseball pitcher Satchel Paige said it eloquently, “Never let the odds keep you from pursuing what you know in your heart you were meant to do.” – Sally Fur
ENSURING REALITY IN ALMOST-REALITY TV
A school-based mental-health program has earned a Sunnybook psychiatrist a consulting role on the hit Canadian television show Degrassi.
Dr. Amy Cheung was invited to consult on a script after its writers learned of the program she runs at a local high school. The program provides early mental-health care to students before symptoms affect their social and academic development.
Degrassi is known for story lines that include teen pregnancy, abuse and bullying. Dr. Cheung, a youth psychiatrist who spends much of her time diagnosing and treating adolescents with mood disorders, was the obvious choice for advice about the planned mental-health theme.
“Degrassi's writers want to ensure they are portraying situations involving mental health realistically, and in a way that its teenaged viewers can relate to,” Dr. Cheung says.
As a mother of three young children, Dr. Cheung appreciates Degrassi for bringing the realities of mental health to a younger audience. “As parents, we need to create an environment where our kids feel comfortable talking about their mental health, so that they don’t suffer in silence,” she says.
“Mental illnesses, such as depression, can often go unnoticed in teens, and is sometimes dismissed as typical teenage moodiness. In reality, it’s a condition that can have serious effects on the lives of those suffering from it,” Dr. Cheung says.
Her research shows that only 50 per cent of adolescents with depression are diagnosed before they reach adulthood. – Sybil Edmonds.
AFRICA WITH LOVE
AFRICA CAPTURED Dr. Valerie Krym's heart in 1999 on a four-month camping trip through nine countries in southern and eastern Africa. “I fell in love with the beautiful continent and its people. I have been going back ever since.”
Dr. Krym, a Sunnybrook staff emergency physician, is a founding executive board member of the African Federation for Emergency Medicine, which is helping build emergency medicine as a specialty in Africa. “I choose to give my time in Africa because the needs are so great and the opportunity to make a difference is also great,” she says. “There is a vibrant, unpretentious immediacy that makes one feel alive and joyful in connecting with others in focusing on the issue