Eleven women are diagnosed with breast cancer in BC every day. It is the most common cancer diagnosis for BC women, and each year 695 women in this province will die from this disease.

The toll it takes on patients, families, friends and loves ones is immeasurable, and they deserve the best care during this difficult time in their lives.

That is why VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation is proud to announce the philanthropic support that is stepping up to transform the future of breast cancer care in BC with the appointment of Dr. Kathryn Isaac as the inaugural Dr. Patricia Clugston Chair in Breast Reconstruction Surgery at the University of British Columbia.

“VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation is honoured to be supporting VCH clinician Dr. Kathryn Isaac in her appointment to this transformational role, which was only made possible through the power of philanthropy,” says Barbara Grantham, President and CEO of VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation. “Thousands of women across BC facing breast cancer will directly benefit from her work.”

In her Chair role, Dr. Isaac’s mission is to increase access to breast reconstruction surgery, address health care navigation issues, improve the clinical experience through surgical innovation and ensure consistency of care across the province. The Chair will also develop and enhance partnerships, advocate to government, coordinate training and education, and build an efficient research team.

“I am incredibly proud to champion the betterment of breast cancer care and breast reconstruction in this province,” says Dr. Isaac. “Despite the exceptional comprehensive care available in British Columbia, women diagnosed with breast cancer can be faced with delays to accessing care and struggle to navigate the medical system on their own.”

Breast cancer patients often face the reality of a mastectomy to surgically remove one or both breasts. Approximately 2,000 mastectomies are done annually in BC, with 65% of breast reconstruction surgeries in Vancouver Coastal Health being performed at UBC Hospital.

Studies show that emotional, social and functional well-being, vitality, body image and general mental health are improved in women who have breast reconstruction surgery after their mastectomy.

The current journey to physical and emotional recovery for women with breast cancer can be a difficult one as in addition to dealing with the disease, they also have to navigate the breast cancer treatment system, which can prove challenging.

The Foundation secured $5 million through philanthropic gifts to support this Chair position.  In addition to hundreds of individual donors, the Chair was supported by the BC Cancer Foundation, the Canadian Cancer Society (previously the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation), St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation, CIBC, and the CURE Foundation.

Dr. Peter Lennox, Head, UBC Division of Plastic Surgery, could not be more pleased with these transformative gifts.

“Philanthropic leadership is launching a new era of cancer care for women and I cannot wait to see how it will shape the future of breast reconstruction in BC and beyond,” says Dr. Lennox.

The Chair is named in memory of Dr. Patricia Clugston, a talented surgeon who passed away at the height of her career. She was a champion for all women facing breast cancer who believed that every mother, wife, sister, grandmother and friend deserved efficient, consistent and coordinated care during their cancer treatment journey.

Dr. Isaac studied medicine and completed her Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery training at the University of Toronto. She subsequently completed a craniofacial fellowship at Boston’s Children Hospital and subspecialized further in breast reconstruction at the Health Sciences Center in Winnipeg. In addition to her surgical training, she completed a Master’s degree in Public Health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. In September 2018, Dr. Isaac moved to Vancouver and has provided her skills for VGH and UBC Hospital ever since.

Learn about the impact breast reconstruction can have on a patient’s life.