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Queen's University


Working Together to Understand Breast Cancer

1 in 9 Canadian women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.

These are our mothers, our daughters, our sisters, our wives and our friends. I don’t know anyone who has not been touched by breast cancer in some way. Which is exactly why I am dedicated to changing that statistic.

Here at Queen’s, I have the unique opportunity to work together with a team of students, professors and researchers across a variety of specialties, all housed within three stories of Queen’s Cancer Research Institute. All working towards the same goal – to understand cancer, improve treatment options and, ultimately, find a cure.

The path we start on doesn’t always take us in the direction we planned. This is true in life as well as in research. Sometimes, opportunities offer us a better path; if we’re lucky, a more meaningful path. And this is exactly what Queen’s has done for me.

Collaborating for a Cure

As an undergraduate student, I had the incredible opportunity to work in cancer research with a pathologist who was a clinician – she spent a good part of her time diagnosing cancer patients. I saw the direct link between the research I was doing in the lab and patient treatment at the bedside. I knew then that I wanted to dedicate myself to cancer research – specifically, breast cancer research. I wanted to help in the fight against this terrible disease that has become an epidemic among women.

Today, I am a PhD student in the laboratories of Drs. Leda Raptis and Bruce Elliott, as part of the Collaborative Cancer Program at Queen’s – a unique program that unites six different departments across the University with the collective goal of advancing cancer research. Scientists from anatomy, biochemistry, epidemiology, microbiology and immunology, who may otherwise never come into contact, all work together under one umbrella.

As a student, the Queen’s Collaborative Cancer Program offers me an incomparable opportunity to work with people who are doing the very best work in their field. I work with extremely determined, talented people who inspire me and make me want to do the best work I can. When I need guidance, advice or just some input on my work, I simply walk down the hall into someone else’s lab.

This kind of opportunity for collaboration is exceptional. It offers a degree of cross-specialty collaboration that leads to innovation


From the lab to the bedside

The Cancer Research Institute, through its association with Kingston General Hospital, also allows me to see the clinical application of the research I’m doing. I can connect my work in the lab – the identification of proteins that initiate breast cancer – to what is happening with real patients. Motivation is magnified when you can see the research being applied – especially in research with the goal of improving patient care.

Where excellence meets opportunity

With the understanding I’ve gained here at Queen’s, I hope one day to change the outcome for women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. And more than that, my goal is to find a cure. I’m not unique. Queen’s students across campus are learning, discovering and innovating. Working together to make a difference. We have the spirit, the ambition and the initiative. All we need is the opportunity.

This is where you come in. You are an invaluable part of the equation because every donor, every dollar, every gift makes a difference. Please add your support to the 2013-14 Queen’s Annual Appeal, where every gift creates opportunity.

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Cha Gheill!

Jamaica Cass
PhD Candidate in Microbiology and Immunology

Kingston, Ontario, Canada. K7L 3N6. 613.533.2000

For general inquiries about Office of Advancement events and programs, please call our Contact Centre at 1-800-267-7837 (toll free in Canada or the US), or 613-533-2060.