Help for Young Women with Breast Cancer

A new program for young women diagnosed with breast cancer is coming to the Juravinski Cancer Centre – with help from the BRIGHT Run! 

It’s called the PYNK Program and JCC medical oncologist Dr. Bindi Dhesy, who is leading the clinic’s establishment, says it will help women under 40, who face a range of unique issues because of their age and the nature of their disease. 

While local resources exist, they can be confusing to navigate at the same time as patients are focussed on treatment. The PYNK Program will help young breast cancer patients find the services they need. 

BRIGHT Run, in partnership with the Toronto-based Jesin-Neuberger Charitable Foundation, will fund the exciting new initiative. 

The local PYNK Program, which will be the third such program in Ontario, was announced Oct. 21 in conjunction with the announcement of a new Pynk Program at Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital. 

The first PYNK Program enrolled its first patient at Sunnybrook Health Sciences’ Odette Cancer Centre in 2008. The PYNK Program at Mount Sinai was launched recently, while the JCC clinic is in the planning stages. 

“I am so honoured to celebrate this exciting occasion,” Dr. Dhesy said during the virtual announcement. “Breast cancer is particularly challenging for younger patients, with more aggressive treatments and significant long-term impacts.” 

BRIGHT event chair Nancy McMillan says the BRIGHT Run is proud to partner and support PYNK. 

“The opportunity for BRIGHT Run to support such a well-established concept and bring a PYNK Program to our own cancer centre is truly a very proud moment,” she said. “Many young women I have met over the years have expressed the need for many of the unique services that this clinic will provide.” 

Receiving a breast cancer diagnosis at any age is very difficult, but for women under 40, there are unique concerns including: 

  • Body image issues 
  • Sexual dysfunction  
  • Accessing fertility counselling and support 
  • Accessing genetic counselling and education in a timely way 
  • Understanding and managing the impact of the diagnosis on relationships, both existing and future 
  • Managing treatments around emerging careers or education 
  • Talking about the diagnosis and treatment with their children 
  • Finding peer support 
  • Navigating the breast cancer system 

Dr. Dhesy says she knows many JCC patients have travelled to Sunnybrook for help from the PYNK Program and expanding the service to Hamilton, with local support from the BRIGHT Run will meet the needs of young patients at their home cancer centre. 

Every year, more than 800 new breast cancer patients arrive at the JCC; of those, approximately 90 are under the age of 40 years. Recent research, including some studies by Sunnybrook’s PYNK Program, indicates there’s a need to address that patient population’s particular issues. 

Dr. Dhesy envisions it as a fluid clinic, headed by the PYNK nurse case coordinator to ensure continuity of care and access from the point of diagnosis to treatment at the JCC and follow-up. 

The PYNK Program will also provide an opportunity for research and innovation to address the issues specific to young women with breast cancer, as well as being a source of participants for clinical trials.