University of Vermont

Vermont Cancer Center's 17th Annual Breast Cancer Conference

Social Workers

Information for Social Workers

Contact Us

Questions about this year's conference? Call (802) 656-2292.


Quick Facts
  • Please register for the conference by 8:00 am on October 3, 2014. Walk-ins are welcome after the registration deadline. However, space is limited and some sessions may be closed. Register early!
  • The conference will be held at the Sheraton Burlington Hotel & Conference Center in South Burlington, Vermont.
  • The conference opens at 8:00 am with over 60 exhibits in the Exhibit Hall.
  • Sessions begin at 9:00 am and end at 4:05 pm.
  • The sessions and exhibits are free due to the generous support of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Vermont-New Hampshire Affiliate, BlueCross BlueShield of Vermont, Front Porch Forum, and Seventh Generation.

The 17th Annual Breast Cancer Conference has been approved for 5.5 continuing education credits for social workers by the Vermont Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers.

Sessions which offer social worker credit are listed below.

Session One


1-1: Sex After a Cancer Diagnosis: Has Anyone Seen My Libido? / Patti Johnson, RN, OCN, CBCN and Mary Nolan, RN, OCN / This will be a patient-focused presentation with a wealth of information for nurses, regarding body image, intimacy, and dealing with short and long-term effects of cancer treatment. There will be a frank discussion of issues related to sexuality with time for questions. “Pandora’s Box”, a treasure trove of resources and enhancement devices, will be explored. Oncology RN and Breast Cancer Survivor Mary Nolan will share her personal experiences in overcoming the emotional and physical effects of cancer treatment as related to sexuality.


1-7: Integration of Palliative Care into Cancer Care / Janet Ely, MSN, AOCNP, FNP and Mary Giancola, MSW, LICSW / Palliative care is specialized medical care for people with serious illness focused on improving quality of life through relief from the symptoms, pain and stress of a serious illness. Care is provided by a team of caregivers who wholly support and care for the patient and family. Integrating palliative care into cancer care is appropriate for any cancer diagnosis and provides an extra layer of support from the time of initial diagnosis, through active treatment and, when needed, helping patients and families transition to end of life care.


1-8: Touch, Caring & Cancer: Simple Instruction for Family and Friends / Catherine Cerulli, M Ed and Janet Kahn, PhD, LMT / The Touch, Caring, and Cancer (TCC) program used in cancer centers, hospices, hospitals, and homes across the United States and has been found to support improved quality of life for cancer patients and their caregivers. This workshop will provide patients, caregivers, and health care professionals with simple, effective techniques such as massage, acupressure, mindfulness, and aromatherapy.


Session Two


2-3: Conversations and Choices for the Caregiver / Kathy McBeth, MAVCC / What are the plights that caregivers face when taking care of somebody who is suffering through cancer? This session will discuss some of the tough conversations and difficult choices that caregivers and patients face, as well as some ways to find guidance through those tough times.


2-4: Breast Cancer and Weight Gain / Jean Harvey, PhD, RDVCC / Weight gain is common in breast cancer patients after diagnosis. Unfortunately, survivors who are overweight are more likely to have their cancer recur than trimmer survivors. This workshop reviews why weight is likely to change during treatment and details activities you can do that have consistently been shown to reduce your risk of breast cancer, improve your odds of survival if you are diagnosed, and help prevent other illnesses.


2-5: Living with Metastatic Breast Cancer: A Panel Discussion / Rose Colletti, PhDVCC / Survivors living with Stage IV breast cancer will share stories and respond to various topics, including how they maintain HOPE and develop MEANING in the face of ongoing treatment. Audience questions and participation will be encouraged.


2-6: Choices in Prophylactic Mastectomy: Figuring out what is Right for YOU / Clare Ginger, PhD, Robert Nesbit, MD, Patti O’Brien, MDVCC , and Michelle Sowden, DOVCC / The desire for body symmetry after a mastectomy is a well-recognized need. There are many ways to try to achieve this symmetry, and this will be a discussion about the many options. Patients who have chosen very different options will be talking about their personal choices. Some women choose to “add back” a breast using their own tissue, an implant, or a prosthesis. Some women want the option to remove the “normal breast” even if they do not carry a genetic risk factor. These are very complex personal issues. The plastic surgeon and the oncology surgeon discuss with each woman to help her pick what is going to be right for her.


2-8: Genetic Counseling and Testing / Wendy McKinnon, MSVCC / This session reviews the features of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer and explains who might be a candidate for referral for genetic counseling and, possibly, genetic testing. The talk will review what happens during a genetic counseling session and discuss the risks, benefits, and limitations of undergoing genetic testing for cancer risk.


2-9: Integrative Therapies in Cancer Care: Expert Panel Discussion / Philip Trabulsy, MD and Janet Kahn, PhD, LMT / A lively presentation and discussion will be presented by a panel of experts in the field regarding the growing body of evidence surrounding the clinical value of supportive cancer care using the best evidence-informed therapies from the field of Complementary and Integrative Medicine. The evidence continues to grow with regards to the use of Integrative therapies for symptom management, pain management, rehabilitation, survivorship, health promotion and cancer prevention. The clinical panel of integrative practitioners will discuss their particular healing disciplines approach to support the cancer patient. This will include such topics as integrative nutrition, natural supplements, herbal treatments, acupuncture, oncologic massage therapy, and mind-body medicine.


2-10: The Benefits of Nature Contact on Survivorship / Christine Vatovec, PhDVCC / How can the power of nature help cancer survivorship rates? This session will explore the scientific data surrounding the role that nature contact, such as walks in a natural area or having plants in a clinical setting, plays in survivorship.


Session Three


3-1: Screening: When, How Often, and Why? / Tracy Dolan, Sally Herschorn, MDVCC, Benjamin Littenberg, MD, Donal Weaver, MDVCC, and Marie Wood, MDVCC / Screening guidelines change from state to state and from person to person, but what does that mean for you? This panel will discuss the multiple screening guidelines out there, explain why recommendations differ, and help you figure out how to make the choice that is best for you.


3-5: What to Expect When you Get Called Back from your Routine Screening Mammogram / Elise Hotaling, MD / Approximately 10% of patients undergoing a screening mammogram are called back to further evaluate a finding seen on the initial images. Such findings may include calcifications, densities, and masses, any one of which may be a sign of benign or malignant disease. This presentation discusses the tools breast imagers use to complete this additional evaluation and what you can expect as a result.


3-6: Brighten Up: Bright Pink’s™ Educational Workshop on Breast and Ovarian Health  / Betsey Wesson / The Brighten Up Educational Workshop is a signature program that educates and inspires young women to be proactive advocates for their health. Facilitated by a certified Bright Pink Ambassador, these sessions ground participants in the basics of breast and ovarian health, introduce them to early detection techniques, and equip them with life-saving knowledge. Immediately following the workshop, participants receive access to tools that can help them calculate their personal level of cancer risk, develop an action plan in partnership with their doctor, and monitor for symptoms and signs of cancer.


3-8: Genetic Testing and Inherited Breast and Ovarian Cancer: Patient Perspectives / Wendy McKinnon, MS / This panel discussion includes several individuals who have undergone genetic counseling and testing for the BRCA1/BRCA2 genes. These two genes are associated with the majority of inherited breast and ovarian cancers. There will be a variety of results and a range of perspectives on the testing process. Anyone interested in learning more about the BRCA1/BRCA2 counseling and testing process is encouraged to attend.


3-10: Spirituality as a Cornerstone of Coping / Rebecca Brooks, Patricia Fontaine, MACP, and Roz Grossman, MA For many of us, a deep relationship with spirituality keeps us company during the healing journey with cancer. This panel of survivors, each with a different spiritual connection, offers reflections on what this relationship means to them. We welcome your questions and will leave plenty of time to reflect as a group on your own journeys.


Lunch Sessions


KEYNOTE PRESENTATION: Looking for Avoidable Causes of Breast Cancer: No Trivial Pursuit! / Tom Ahern, PhD, MPH / The premise of cause and effect drives epidemiologists, scientists that deal with incidence, distribution, and possible control of diseases, in their hunt for avoidable causes of breast cancer. In this talk, Dr. Ahern will explain a theory which focuses current research efforts to find highly prevalent, yet avoidable, contributors in the development of breast cancer which, if mitigated, substantially reduce the burden of breast cancer in a population.


Session Four


4-1: Chemobrain / Owen Drudge, PhD, Julie Dumas, PhDVCC, Moira Mulligan, MS, CCC-SLP, and Patricia O’Brien, MDVCC / Women frequently comment that their memory declines during and after therapy for breast cancer. A panel of experts, including a cognitive expert, an oncologist, and a breast cancer survivor, discuss the science behind cognitive change and research efforts to increase our understanding of this condition.


4-2: PHYSICIAN TRACK: Deep Inferior Epigastric Artery Perforator (DIEP) Flap Breast Reconstruction / Robert Nesbit, MD / The DIEP flap is a common breast reconstruction procedure that has many benefits. This session will examine DIEP flap breast reconstruction as well as the benefits and challenges for physicians and their patients. This session is specifically geared toward primary care providers and other health care professionals.


4-3: Phthalates are Everywhere – But Do They Cause Breast Cancer? / Tom Ahern, PhD, MPHVCC / Phthalate compounds have made their way into a number of consumer products including food containers, children's toys, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals. Phthalates are suspected to disrupt hormonal pathways in our bodies, and have the potential to cause cancer. Dr. Thomas Ahern will discuss the pervasiveness of these compounds in our daily environment, summarize current evidence of the effect of phthalates on breast cancer occurrence, and introduce his new study, funded by Susan G. Komen for the Cure, which will thoroughly explore this topic in a population of women at risk for breast cancer.


4-4: Healing Through Play: Strategies to Care for Self and Family / Ali Waltien, CCLS and Julia Wick, MS, LCMHC / In this experiential session, Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor Julia Wick and Certified Child Life Specialist Ali Waltien acknowledge that breast cancer impacts all members of the family. Using therapeutic play techniques, Julia and Ali will work with adult participants to give them tools to address the many emotions of cancer to support themselves and all members of the family.


4-5: A Multidisciplinary Approach to Breast Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment / Kim Dittus, MD, PhDVCC, Maureen Harmon, MD, Deborah Rubin, MD, Mary Stanley, MDVCC, and Erin Tsai, MD / Current breast cancer care involves the coordination of multiple medical disciplines: surgery, pathology, radiology, and specialists in chemotherapy and radiation treatment. In this session you will sit in on a reenactment of a weekly breast cancer case conference where specialists review clinical, radiologic, and pathologic findings of patients recently diagnosed with breast cancer and discuss the best approaches to treatment.

4.8: Marijuana for Symptom Relief / Bridget Conry, Shayne Lynn, Jeffrey Wallin, and Lindsey Wells / What is my role as a provider? How do I become a registered patient? This session will focus on the process of registering with the Vermont Marijuana Registry and what happens after a patient is registered.

4-10: Mindfulness Tools: An Introduction to Practices and Scientific Evidence / Roz Grossman, MAVCC and Yujing Sun, PhDVCC / Research has shown that meditation and other mindfulness practices can benefit cancer recovery. This session will introduce Mindfulness Tools known to ease stress and anxiety and encourage calmness and wellbeing for cancer survivors and caregivers. Recently published scientific studies on mindfulness meditation in the areas of neuroscience, biology and immunology including clinical outcomes and potential mechanisms will be presented and discussed as well as resources for further mindfulness exploration. Both presenters have been trained in teaching the world-renowned Jon Kabat-Zinn, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program offered to cancer patients at the Vermont Cancer Center.

Session Five


5-1: Are There Choices in Fertility Management after Breast Cancer? / Elizabeth McGee, MDVCC / What are the options for fertility and family building after one has been treated for breast cancer? How can you know if you are still fertile? Can infertility be treated? Is it safe? Could it be an option for me? This session will answer these and other important questions about fertility management after breast cancer.


5-2: PHYSICIAN TRACK: The Many Benefits of Palliative Care as a Part of a Comprehensive Cancer Team / Jaina Clough, MD / Palliative care is an essential piece of treatment that many providers need to know more about. This session will discuss palliative treatments from a provider's standpoint and give a comprehensive discussion on how every provider can benefit from knowing more about this field. This session is specifically geared toward primary care providers and other health care professionals. Please note that in order to fill the palliative care portion of the new CME requirements, this session will run until 3:15 pm.

5-5: Clinical Trials and You / Chris Holmes, MD, PhDVCC / Clinical trials are among the greatest weapons we have in fighting cancer. This panel discussion will explore the world of clinical trials, how they help find new treatments for cancer, and how you can become a part of this important process.

5-7: What to do When you Find a Breast Lump / Ted James, MDVCC / This session is geared for anyone who wants to understand the nature of breast lumps and what to do when you find one. The talk will review the various causes of breast lumps and walk participants through the diagnostic process for evaluating a new breast lump. Recommendations to ensure timely, safe and high-quality care will be discussed.

5-8: What’s New in Breast Cancer Reconstruction? / Robert Nesbit, MD / In this session, we will focus on newer techniques for reconstruction after breast cancer surgery. Some of the techniques discussed may include oncoplastic surgery after lumpectomy, nipple sparing mastectomy, and new technologies that may improve reconstructive outcomes.

Session Six


6-1: Oncology Rehabilitation – Steps to Wellness / Kim Dittus, MD, PhDVCC, Kristie Grover, PhD, Rebecca Reynolds, BS, Diane Stevens, PT / Steps to Wellness is a comprehensive Oncology Rehab program, the program will be presented by the team that provides this care. It is also a research Program and Dr. Dittus will be discussing the findings of this research, the implications will be discussed. Persons interested in joining the program will fine the overview helpful, and professionals who want to build a team in their facility will learn gain an understanding of the team development. Fitness is very important, how a structured exercise program can improve health after cancer treatment will be presented.

6-5: Symptom Control During Chemotherapy / Jennifer May, RD, CD / This session will provide helpful hints for the management of common side effects of chemotherapy, including taste changes, nausea, and constipation. The goal of the presentation will be to help patients find strategies for optimal tolerance of treatment and preservation of quality of life. Additionally, focus will be placed on the maintenance of one’s nutritional status to ensure treatment can be continued uninterrupted, and aid in healing. Information will be presented through the collaboration of a dietitian and a panel of oncology nurses. Time will be allotted for questions and discussion.

6-6: Enhancing Treatment and Survival with ACT / Suzanne Hall, RN, BSW / This session will help care providers explore the ACT system (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy). Understanding the principles underlying ACT gives care providers a whole new set of simple communication and interpersonal skills to use when treating patients. ACT empowers patients to choose a new approach to the physical and emotional pain they experience during the treatment process, providing them with a new outlook and emotional understanding that can help them face difficult times.

6-8: Is There Sex After Cancer? Reviving your Sex Life After Cancer / Gale Golden, LICSW, BCD / When an illness occurs, the accompanying treatments, medications and surgeries may diminish desire for sex and intimacy. Even in the best of relationships, an open discussion about sex may be daunting and thus avoided. This discussion will offer practical help on starting the dialogue and reviving the comfort of an intimate and sexual relationship. Help is on its way!

Last modified September 23 2014 01:33 PM