Ontarians pledge to reduce breast cancer risk and get screened

Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation's Pink Tour brings thousands on board

TORONTO, Nov. 27, 2013 /CNW/ - After four months on the road, travelling to 128 communities and meeting more than 21,500 Ontarians, the Pink Tour has officially parked for the season. As the bus crossed the province, the Pink Tour increased breast health awareness and understanding, inspired action and pledges for breast health, and contributed to provincial screening rates by enabling women who were on the bus to book mammograms through the Ontario Breast Screening Program.

Supported by CIBC and Shoppers Drug Mart, this is the second year that the Pink Tour enabled Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (CBCF) to bring critical breast health information to women where they live, work and play. This year, the 46-foot Pink Tour bus was filled with new interactive touch-screen tools, quizzes, and videos and materials in 13 languages, presenting a novel way to make this information even more accessible to diverse audiences.

This year's tour travelled as far north as Sioux Lookout and as far west as Kenora with an increased focus on reaching diverse and underscreened populations, visiting more cultural events and festivals, community health centers, and First Nation communities.

"We want as many Ontarians as possible to know that one third of breast cancers are preventable and that regular screening saves lives.  The Pink Tour provided a tremendous opportunity to travel across Ontario and connect with people one-on-one in their communities," said Sandra Palmaro, CEO, CBCF-Ontario. "Together with our partners, we provided women with concrete actions they can take to reduce breast cancer risk; we enabled women to locate their closest Ontario Breast Screening program (OBSP) clinic, a program of Cancer Care Ontario; and if they chose to, eligible women 50-74 could book mammogram appointments right on the bus."

Mortality rates for breast cancer have declined by 42 per cent since 1986 thanks to improved screening technology, earlier detection and better treatment, but one in nine Canadian women will still be diagnosed with breast cancer.

"One of our key learnings on the tour was that many women feel they need more information about how, when, where and at what age to get screened, and how to understand whether they are at high risk," Palmaro said. "Many still don't have access to a family doctor, and for those that do, discussions about breast health and screening aren't always taking place."

While women aged 50 to 74 can receive a mammogram without a doctor's referral and at no cost, currently only 61 per cent of women in Ontario are being screened and research shows that women are not aware that they can take steps to reduce their risk of breast cancer.

"Many people we met were surprised to learn about the various risk factors for breast cancer," Palmaro said. "The Pink Tour brought this information to women to encourage them to make positive changes in their lives."

Inspired by what they learned, more than 4,500 visitors wrote and recorded personal video pledges to live well. These included maintaining a healthier body weight, regular physical activity, drinking less alcohol, quitting smoking, limiting use of hormone therapy during menopause and reducing exposure to harmful chemicals at home and work.

"We'd like to thank our partners for their important contributions, and remind women that while the bus is parked they can get information on how to reduce their risk of breast cancer at www.cbcf.org," Palmaro said. "Women of all ages should discuss their breast health, including any unusual changes, with a health care provider.  Women aged 50-74 who are interested in booking a mammogram can call 1-800-668-9304 toll-free or visit www.cancercare.on.ca/obsplocations to find an OBSP screening site near them."

"CIBC was proud to join the Foundation once again as co-sponsor of the Pink Tour to help get the important message out to as many women and men as possible in our communities that getting screened can save your life," said Christina Kramer, Executive Vice-President, CIBC. "We are thrilled that the Pink Tour bus visited so many CIBC branches across Ontario so that our clients and employees had an opportunity to take part in this vital program."

"The Pink Tour has once again proved to be a valuable tool for raising breast cancer awareness in Ontario," said Michael Sherar, CEO, Cancer Care Ontario.  "By bringing information directly to women in all corners of the province, the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, along with our Regional Cancer Programs, is supporting our mutual goal of educating women on the importance of getting regular mammograms."

"Shoppers Drug Mart, powered by our community-based Pharmacist-owners, was proud to once again support the Pink Tour," said Mary-Alice Vuicic, Chief Administrative Officer and Executive Vice-President, Human Resources & Public Affairs, Shoppers Drug Mart. "With our primary philanthropic focus being Shoppers Drug Mart WOMEN, and our goal to empower women to make the right health choices for themselves, we reached even more women across the province.  We recognize that breast cancer screening rates are well below provincial targets, and Shoppers Drug Mart was proud to do its part in helping to deliver information about breast health and the importance of screening to women and their families."

About Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation
Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation is the leading community-driven organization in Canada dedicated to creating a future without breast cancer.  Our investments in innovative and relevant research and education have led to progress in breast cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care. Since 1986, we have been at the forefront of a nationwide movement supporting and advocating for the breast cancer community. Join us at www.cbcf.org.

About Shoppers Drug Mart Corporation
Shoppers Drug Mart Corporation is one of the most recognized and trusted names in Canadian retailing.  The Company is the licensor of full-service retail drug stores operating under the name Shoppers Drug Mart (Pharmaprix in Québec).  With 1,230 Shoppers Drug Mart and Pharmaprix stores operating in prime locations in each province and two territories, the Company is one of the most convenient retailers in Canada.  The Company also licenses or owns 56 medical clinic pharmacies operating under the name Shoppers Simply Pharmacy (Pharmaprix Simplement Santé in Québec) and six luxury beauty destinations operating as Murale.  As well, the Company owns and operates 63 Shoppers Home Health Care stores, making it the largest Canadian retailer of home health care products and services.  In addition to its retail store network, the Company owns Shoppers Drug Mart Specialty Health Network Inc., a provider of specialty drug distribution, pharmacy and comprehensive patient support services, and MediSystem Technologies Inc., a provider of pharmaceutical products and services to long-term care facilities.

About CIBC
CIBC is a leading North American financial institution with nearly 11 million personal banking and business clients. CIBC is committed to supporting causes that matter to our clients, our employees and our communities. We aim to make a difference in communities through corporate donations, sponsorships and the volunteer spirit of employees. In 2012, CIBC contributed more than $38 million to charitable and non-profit initiatives in Canada to support national, regional and local organizations.

About Cancer Care Ontario
Cancer Care Ontario - an Ontario government agency - drives quality and continuous improvement in disease prevention and screening, the delivery of care and the patient experience, for cancer, chronic kidney disease and access to care for key health services. Known for its innovation and results-driven approaches, CCO leads multi-year system planning, contracts for services with hospitals and providers, develops and deploys information systems, establishes guidelines and standards and tracks performance targets to ensure system-wide improvements in cancer, chronic kidney disease and access to care.

SOURCE Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation - Ontario Region

For further information:

ABOUT CBCF-ONTARIO REGION OR TO SET UP AN INTERVIEW:

Megan Primeau, Communications Manager, Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation - Ontario Region. 416-815-1313 ext. 208 or 647-405-2830.  mprimeau@cbcf.org