Skip to main content

Breast-cancer survivor wins political victory in N.B. election with new health-care promises

A breast cancer survivor and advocate had a sweet victory Friday: She saw the two leading parties adopt her cause as platform planks for the Sept. 24 New Brunswick election.

“I’m dancing a happy dance,” Kathy Kaufield said, after both the Liberals and Progressive Conservatives pledged Friday to ensure women are given information on their breast density following mammograms.

If implemented, New Brunswick would become the first province to routinely provide women that kind of density information.

Story continues below advertisement

Ms. Kaufield, who said the news makes her proud to live in New Brunswick, added that women need to know that having dense breasts is a greater risk for breast cancer than family history.

Ms. Kaufield, who completed cancer treatments two years ago, said few women are even aware it is an issue, so that’s why she launched her #TellMe campaign to have doctors give women that information.

“I had a mammogram and it came out clear, and then five months later I found a tumour the size of a golf ball. If I had known I had dense breasts I would have been checking my breasts more regularly and perhaps I would have found it earlier,” she said.

“Mammograms often miss the tumours in dense breasts because dense breasts appear white on a mammogram and so do the tumours, so it’s like trying to find a snowball in a snow storm.”

Breast density is assessed by the radiologist viewing a mammogram. An estimated 81,000 women in New Brunswick have dense breasts, with an estimated 18,000 women in the highest category of density.

Ms. Kaufield said breast density isn’t consistent in families and can change during your lifetime.

Progressive Conservative candidate Dorothy Shephard, who is seeking re-election in the riding of Saint John-Lancaster, was diagnosed with breast cancer last December. She had surgery earlier this year and just completed the last of her treatments this week.

Story continues below advertisement

On Friday, Ms. Shephard said she was just the second person in her family to have breast cancer, and had been unaware of the density issue.

“All of this information is so important for us to help women understand that they can be their own advocates. They can be very proactive in understanding what their health risks are,” she said.

Tory Leader Blaine Higgs pledged to make it mandatory for health professionals to inform women if they have an added risk as a result of breast density.

“This is not like it has to be a whole new procedure. It’s like making the patients aware that they have an additional risk factor, and then deciding the next step,” he said, standing in front of the provincial legislature.

Liberal Premier Brian Gallant made a similar announcement while campaigning in Moncton Friday.

“Information on breast density will be added to medical reports, as well as to the letters mailed to women accompanying their mammogram results. Enclosed information will also explain the implications of breast density,” he said.

Story continues below advertisement

Asked about the coincidence of both leaders making the same commitment on the same day, Mr. Higgs quipped: “Well, he and I don’t talk much.”

Also Friday, Mr. Gallant again pledged to increase the number of health professionals in the province, including 90 net new doctors.

The Tories also announced plans for a provincial advisory council on women’s health and a $5-million fund for research projects on women’s health issues.

The provincial election is Sept. 24.

Report an error
Comments

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • All comments will be reviewed by one or more moderators before being posted to the site. This should only take a few moments.
  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed. Commenters who repeatedly violate community guidelines may be suspended, causing them to temporarily lose their ability to engage with comments.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.
Cannabis pro newsletter