Division in the Media

Dr. Toni Zhong – Advanced post-mastectomy breast reconstruction improves women’s psychosocial and sexual wellbeing

TORONTO – Women who lose a breast to cancer report improvements in their state of mind and well-being three weeks after breast reconstruction surgery, a new survey indicates.

However, 20 per cent of the women experienced minor or major complications related to the reconstruction surgery, and many of the women were grappling with significant deterioration in the strength of their abdomen — the donor site for tissue to reconstruct the breast.

But study co-author Dr. Toni Zhong said that even when complications, lack of strength at the donor site, scarring and time off work were factored in, the positives outweighed the negatives.

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Dr. Melinda Musgrave – Breast Cancer Survivors Feel “Selfish” About Reconstructive Surgery

Dr. Melinda Musgrave was featured in Forbes recently with regards to breast cancer survivors and breast reconstruction:

Each year more than 254,000 American women battle breast cancer. But according to a new study very few of them will opt for breast reconstruction surgery after treatment.

Less than one-fifth of American women who undergo mastectomy currently choose to undergo breast reconstruction. Dr. Melinda Musgrave, a plastic surgeon at St. Michael’s Hospital who revealed findings that in Canada the number is as low as 7%, is determined to find out why this occurs.

“Reconstruction has a very positive effort on these women as they go through their breast cancer journey,” she says. “The problem is that it’s still seen as cosmetic or unnecessary and it needs to be brought into the correct light.”

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Drs. Joan Lipa and Laura Snell – Surgeons Team Up for Better Results

Drs. Joan Lipa and Laura Snell were featured in the Toronto Star with regards to Sunnybrook’s Odette Cancer Centre and breast cancer care.

When Lori Vajda woke up in the recovery room of Sunnybrook hospital after a double mastectomy seven months ago, the first thing she did was to look at where her breasts had been.

What she saw were her new breasts.

“Better than they were before,” says the 42-year old registered nurse who lives and works in Barrie. “They looked big again, very full.”

The 14-hour surgery, performed by an oncologic surgeon and a plastic surgeon working in tandem, was a significant medical, esthetic and logistical achievement.

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Dr. Ron Zuker – Gearing up for Canada’s First Face and Upper Limb Transplants

Dr. Ron Zuker was featured in the Globe and Mail recently with regards to Canada’s first face and upper limb transplants.

Specialists in Toronto are gearing up to perform Canada’s first face and limb transplants, experimental procedures that push the boundaries of accepted surgical practice and can bolster the reputations of the doctors and institutions that perform them.

Provided they receive approval from hospital administrators, surgeons at the University Health Network and the Hospital for Sick Children hope to perform the first surgeries early next year and then do about five face transplants and up to 25 upper limb transplants a year.

The techniques are still risky and highly controversial. But doctors in Toronto say the surgeries are now far enough advanced that they believe they can go ahead with them safely. At the same time, the area is still so young they can position themselves as leaders in a rapidly growing field.

“That’s what we’re here for is to explore new techniques,” said Ron Zuker, a plastic surgeon at the Hospital for Sick Children and co-director of the face and limb transplant program. “I think anybody who does it almost automatically is a leader.”

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Dr. Christopher R. Forrest – Easter rebirth: A 6-year-old gets a new face

 ANDREW WALLACE / TORONTO STAR Order this photo Yeabsra Hailmarim, 5, spent a day at High Park, playing with Constance McGratten, where she proved to be fearless, leaping off swings and racing up ladders. She did not notice the stares of some other children — and adults. (Photo taken April 2, 2011)


ANDREW WALLACE / TORONTO STAR Order this photo
Yeabsra Hailmarim, 5, spent a day at High Park, playing with Constance McGratten, where she proved to be fearless, leaping off swings and racing up ladders. She did not notice the stares of some other children — and adults. (Photo taken April 2, 2011)

By: Leslie Scrivener Feature Writer, Published on Fri Apr 29 2011

Six-year-old Yeabsra Hailmarim, wearing Easter chick elastics in her braids and an eager smile, strides to the front desk of the downtown Delta Chelsea Hotel and says: “My name is Yeabsra. How are you?” It is her only English.

If anyone is staring, she doesn’t notice.

She and her mother have arrived from Ethiopia, and up on the 15th floor their room is scattered with welcoming gifts. Yeabsra wraps her arms around the stuffed bunnies, turns the pages of the books and then examines herself in a full-length mirror. Delighted with what she sees — new clothes, a purple track suit and yellow T-shirt — she laughs and hops from side to side. In her homeland they call this being “full of popcorn.”

She does not appear to see in the mirror what most of the world sees: a harsh deformity, the middle of her face flattened and undefined, the space between her eyes too wide and two fleshy horn-like bumps — unprotected portions of her brain — protruding from her forehead.

Yeabsra and her mother have come to Canada for an operation to repair this extremely rare facial cleft, a procedure too complex to be performed in Ethiopia. A small Toronto charity, Transforming Faces Worldwide, has brought them here, while the Herbie Fund is paying hospital costs.

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