Jenny Borgfjord, a MacGregor resident and Manitoba-based advocate for Dense Breasts Canada (DBC), is leading a "Know your Lemons" breast health class this Tuesday, May 14th, at the Heartland Multiplex. As a certified "Lemonista", this presentation marks another milestone in her efforts to empower people with knowledge and resources for proactive breast health management. Borgfjord says her work is a testament to her personal cancer experience and is driven by her commitment to bridge gaps in care and public awareness.

Last year, Borgfjord received treatment for early-stage breast cancer. She found a lump during a self-examination performed just weeks after receiving notice of a normal mammogram. She explains the reading she did in response to the diagnosis led her to discover that she was not alone in her experience of having breast cancer and normal mammogram results. She learned about risk factors impacting her case, which did not include having a family history of breast cancer, and that dense breasts can make imaging more difficult to interpret. 

"Throughout my journey, I have reflected and researched extensively, ensuring I understood what was happening to me. One of the pivotal pieces of information I learned is about the complexities of dense breasts and when I began publicly sharing my story, I was alarmed that the people around me did not know either."

Borgfjord began her advocacy work first through an email group and later through a personal blog. Once ready to share more widely, she took to social media. Hakuna Your Tatas is her Facebook page where she posts regularly about her learning and experience, all conveyed with a good dose of wit and humour. In January 2024, she connected with Dense Breasts Canada and the "Know your Lemons Foundation" (KYL). Borgfjord says the partnerships have equipped her with more tools for advocacy and a means to reach a wider audience. “With the help of resources from DBC and KYL and nearly 30 years of teaching experience, I aim to tailor my message using inclusive language and visuals to make the information more likely to stick with the audience. Resources are supplied so that learning can be re-visited or continue beyond the session. I also like to think I am kind of funny!”.

Borgfjord emphasizes that what she is offering is a patient's voice not medical advice. 

"I keep saying 'aware not scare', because this isn't about creating unnecessary fear; what I want is for people to understand the complex factors that affect their breast health and by being informed they can then monitor their health and advocate for themselves with confidence, especially when working with their healthcare providers."  

Borgfjord says her advocacy also aims to prompt the province of Manitoba to align its breast cancer screening guidelines and policies with current research and scientific evidence. "In Canada, we do have the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care (CTFPHC), which publishes clinical practice guidelines for our family doctors on a variety of healthcare topics; however, many advocacy groups and organizations, including the Canadian Cancer Society and the Nurse Practitioner Association of Canada, have recently withdrawn their support of this task force. The CTFPHC recommendations for breast cancer are concerning because there are no breast health experts on the panel; they do not consider racial disparities or breast density, and they demonstrate a clear bias towards not screening because treatments have 'improved'. These organizations and many prominent doctors are now advocating for screening to begin at the age of 40 and supplemental screening for people with dense breasts and The Coalition for Responsible Healthcare Guidelines has been created to address the concerns and advocate for change.".

Borgfjord says most other provinces and territories in Canada that have screening programs are lowering the screening age to 40. Having lost confidence in the task force, she says those provinces didn’t wait for the updated guidelines. Nonetheless, Borgfjord reports Manitoba breast cancer advocates have received written communication indicating the province will be awaiting these updated guidelines from the task force before considering changes. It's concerning information for Borgfjord,“As an early-stage breast cancer survivor, I can assure you that, while I am grateful for the healthcare I received, cancer and cancer treatments are harsh to go through. For example, I have lymphedema and achy joints, as a result of radiation and medication. Many treatments impact quality of life no matter the stage, and I can only imagine what treatments for later-stage cancers are like. It makes more sense to emphasize screening to me.”. 

To address this jurisdictional gap, Borgfjord has co-presented to some Manitoba MLAs on the subject and communicated with healthcare decision-makers to advocate for changes. She is also active on social media, tagging stakeholders regularly, and has written to her MLA and other elected officials. 

Borgfjord says those who attend the upcoming presentation can expect to walk away with organized and detailed information, as well as tools for monitoring their own breast health and participating in shared decision making with healthcare providers. She invites those who are unable to attend, but still interested in a "Know Your Lemons" breast health presentation to contact her via her online platforms to make arrangements. She encourages anyone at risk of developing breast cancer to monitor their health, “No matter what advice you are given, please continue to complete regular breast self-exams and track your results. Paper journaling works, or the Know Your Lemons Foundation offers an app that does not collect personal data and will remind you, teach you how to do a proper exam, and walk you through what to do if you do feel or see one of the twelve signs of breast cancer. If you do have a mammogram, read your whole letter and know your density. Know your normal and normalize talking about your body parts with others.”. 


There is a silver collection at the door, and registration is required for Tuesday's presentation. Contact the Heartland Recreation Commission for more information on attending. The presentation begins at 7pm.