More Canadians are living with complex or chronic illnesses such as dementia, diabetes and arthritis – all clinical areas of strength at Mount Sinai Hospital, Joseph and Wolf Lebovic Health Complex. Through medical and scientific breakthroughs, incredible advances have been made, but living with chronic disease can pose great challenges for patients.
Cancer as a Chronic Illness
With great advances in cancer care, there is greater hope than ever that we may be able to one day treat certain types of cancer as a chronic disease – one that can be managed throughout a patient’s life. However, we are not there yet.
Every day, clinicians at our Christopher Sharp Cancer Centre treat cancers that can be challenging, fast-spreading and complex -- breast, bladder, prostate, gastrointestinal, endocrine, gynaecologic, opthalmologic and head and neck, as well as sarcomas. We are at the forefront of innovative treatments, surgeries and research that provides connected care for those facing this life-changing diagnosis.
In many cases, our patients never have a recurrence, or when they do, we can manage the cancer. But there are still too many patients who will not recover from their cancer. Jennifer Landa is one of those patients. And she is determined to help transform the future of cancer care by sharing her story.
Jennifer Landa’s Story
After more than a year of living breast cancer-free, Jennifer is facing a terminal diagnosis. In August, Jennifer was having trouble breathing; a CT scan revealed that her cancer had returned, and spread. Her doctors at the Marvelle Koffler Breast Centre developed a treatment plan to give her as much time as possible.
Then, in early October, she began to experience unusual tremors in her left arm and leg. Within an hour she was vomiting and could barely walk.
Her elder brother Michael brought her to the Schwartz/Reisman Emergency Centre at Mount Sinai, where clinicians treated her symptoms. In her follow-up appointment with Dr. Pamela Goodwin, Director of the Marvelle Koffler Breast Centre and the Murray & Marvelle Koffler Chair in Breast Research, a CT scan was ordered,
and she was admitted to the hospital, where she also had an urgent MRI. The tests revealed that the twitching was due to a localized seizure caused by one of 10 tumours in her brain.
After a few days in the hospital, Jennifer returned home, grappling with her latest diagnosis that she had just months left to live. Jennifer has faced her cancer journey with courage and grace and the determination to help others in the time she has left. Jennifer is leading her own fundraising campaign to raise money through her vast network of loved ones and supporters. To date, she has raised almost $150,000 to support the Marvelle Koffler Breast Centre.
“Jennifer has been a shining light,” says Dr. Goodwin. “She is strong and gracious and much loved and appreciated by the staff and other patients for her sense of humour, her joie de vivre and her unfailing ability to positively impact everyone around her. She has become an important champion for our breast centre and for countless other patients living with this unpredictable disease.”