Breast Friend
Reader's Digest Canada|November 2020
Breast Friend
How an Ontario doctor is improving women’s cancer care
Lauren McKeon

EARLIER THIS YEAR, Chetna Bhatt, a 55-year-old information manager in London, Ont., received a diagnosis of triple-negative breast cancer—a rare form of the disease that doesn’t respond to typical treatment. She had plenty of questions and even more fears. When she visited her family doctor, she found him to be less than helpful, even dismissive. An acquaintance suggested she contact Annette Richard, a local GP with a national reputation for helping women with breast cancer prepare for one of the most trying ordeals of their lives.

Richard, who is 59 years old, traces her start as a breast-cancer guru to the moment she learned, while training in palliative care, that a typical mastectomy is a day procedure. The thought chilled her—similarly invasive surgeries, including for prostate cancer, require significantly longer stays. “A woman would come in after breakfast and go home for lunch without a breast,” she says. “It just seemed wrong to me.”

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November 2020