The MUHC Foundation's Health Matters

What is it like to live with low vision?

October 16, 2022 The McGill University Health Centre Foundation Season 3 Episode 1
The MUHC Foundation's Health Matters
What is it like to live with low vision?
Show Notes Transcript

This week on Health Matters, Brittany Sinclair describes the difference between an x-ray and a CT scan and how the technology is evolving. Tarah Schwartz speaks with Jacintha Findley, a busy mom of two and a full-time social worker who lives with low vision. Jacintha takes you into what she sees and shares why her ophthalmologist Dr. Hady Saheb’s blindfolded run means so much to her. Dr. Laurence Chapuy discusses winning the MI4 Pfizer Early Career Investigator Award and how she hopes to help people living with inflammatory bowel disease. And, Mary Provias shares why her seven-year-old daughter decided to cut her hair for cutting-edge breast cancer research.

Cette semaine à Questions de santé, Brittany Sinclair explique la différence entre le rayon X et la tomodensitométrie et parle de l’évolution de la technologie. Tarah Schwartz discute avec Jacintha Findley, une mère de deux enfants très occupée et une travailleuse sociale à plein temps qui est aussi malvoyante. Jacintha explique ce qu’elle voit et pourquoi la course les yeux bandés de son ophtalmologiste, le Dr Hady Saheb, est tellement importante pour elle. La Dre Laurence Chapuy confie ses impressions après avoir remporté la Bourse de début de carrière en recherche Pfizer MI4 et explique comment elle espère aider les personnes atteintes d’une maladie inflammatoire de l’intestin. Enfin, Mary Provias raconte pourquoi sa fille de sept ans a décidé de se couper les cheveux pour la recherche de pointe sur le cancer du sein.

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Tarah Schwartz:

Hello there. Thank you for joining us. I'm Tarah Schwartz and this is Health Matters on CJAD 800. On today's show, we speak with a patient who is living with low vision. She takes us into her world and shares what it's like to struggle with seeing. And she describes what it's like to know her ophthalmologist ran 50 kilometers blindfolded in support of vision care at the MUHC. Plus, a seven-year-old girl is cutting her head to fundraise for metastatic breast cancer research and this year's Raise Craze, we chat with her mom. But first, we'd like to take you behind the scenes and share what it's like to work at the hospital. There are thousands of health care professionals who work at the Glen, including medical imaging technologists. Many of us know what it's like to have an x-ray done for an injury. But what is it like to be the one providing those images. Brittany Sinclair is a Specialized Medical Imaging Technologist at the MUHC. And she joins me now. Hello, Brittany.

Brittany Sinclair:

Hi, Tarah.

Tarah Schwartz:

So, first of all, specialized medical imaging technologist, tell us what that is.

Brittany Sinclair:

A medical imaging technologist can fall pretty much anywhere in diagnostic imaging. Where the specialized comes in is because; right now, all I do is research-based medical imaging. So I do primarily, about 90% of my job is doing CT scans. They used to be CAT scans. And then I also do X-rays and bone densitometry.

Tarah Schwartz:

What do you mean, most of it is research or all of it is research right now? So what are you researching?

Brittany Sinclair:

So that's a great question. So I work for an arm of the Research Institute. The arm is called the CIM; the Center for Innovative Medicine. The majority of the work that we provide imaging for is for the oncology team. So we do a lot of research around advanced cancer treatment.

Tarah Schwartz:

And is when you say that you're doing the research, does it involved looking at X-rays? Is the research being done through medical imaging?

Brittany Sinclair:

What happens is the patient will be diagnosed with a certain type of cancer. And so if they fit certain parameters, the study team will recruit them, and they sign a consent, and then they will go on to do whatever investigative medicine is. At that point, we do CAT scans when they first start the treatment and at measured points after that, to follow up to see how effective the medicine is, and to see if there's unfortunately, any adverse events.

Tarah Schwartz:

So you're looking for any changes?

Brittany Sinclair:

Absolutely, absolutely. There's actually a specialized way to assess the scans that we have dedicated radiologists who pretty much all they do is they follow this assessment protocol that is lined up by the research ethics board. And it's the same radiologist every single time. They check the same scans and they compare the size of the tumors with each visit.

Tarah Schwartz:

And again, I'm sort of trying to imagine it as I know our listeners are. Could that be for anything? I think X-ray and I think bone. I think like your X-raying a bone that might have been broken. But can an x-ray see a tumor anywhere in the body?

Brittany Sinclair:

X-ray and CT are almost like a younger brother and an older brother sort of thing. I don't know if that's a good example. X-ray is two-dimensional, and CT is three-dimensional. So an x-ray is kind of like taking a picture. And then CT is kind of like they explain this when we went through school, that it's like a loaf of bread. So all the data we collect is loaf of bread. And then we can slice into that bread in any direction we want to and we can look really closely at any slice we want, in any direction that we want.

Tarah Schwartz:

That is such a great visual for radio because it really helped me to see what you're seeing. I love the idea of like any you can see any slice that you want. And so that can be anywhere in the body. Yeah,

Brittany Sinclair:

Absolutely. Say you have a problem with kidney stones. We can just look right at the kidney. We can look We are speaking with Brittany Sinclair, and we're talking at it like the slice going like from head to foot. We get really nice view that way. Mostly it's kind of in slices moving from the head down to the feet. We can look really, really precisely. The spatial resolution or how much detail you can see in a CT scan is very precise. So to go back to answer your question about X-rays for bones. Back a while ago, when we were using film, it wasn't very detailed. And so really a lot of what we were looking at was; someone breaks a bone and we do an x-ray of it. With a lot of the advances in technology, we can see a lot more differences in soft tissue and we can use things like contrast agents to really highlight that difference. about X-rays, CAT scans and everything that's involved in specialized medical imaging. What drew you to this field, Brittany? It's funny, I think a lot of people have that story of all I was in a ski accident and the technologies were so nice. Or like that sort of thing, or it was a family member. I didn't have that experience. What happened for me was, I was just always really drawn to helping people. When I would see someone injured, my mom has a story about when I was three years old, I went up to someone in a wheelchair. I didn't know them. I just went right up to them and I told them I was very sorry. Luckily, I've learned some boundaries since then. But I've just always had this drive to help people. It's such a great motivator for me. So I see people that are sick, they're injured and even though I'm only with them for 15 minutes, half an hour, I get to make them more comfortable. I get to do a really good job and help their diagnosis. It gives me a great sense of meaning.

Tarah Schwartz:

That is such a lovely story. You gave me all the feels, that is beautiful. You mentioned that technology for CAT scans and X-rays has changed a lot. I'm always fascinated by that. Can you take us back a little and let us know how this technology has changed and improved over the years?

Brittany Sinclair:

Absolutely. It was about 50 years ago, approximately. But Hounsfield, the guy that invented CT, took the first CT scan of the head. It took hours and hours to do in the part because they were doing one slice at a time and then it had to reset. Here at the CIM at the Research Institute, we use a 256 slice scanner. And instead of hours, the scan of the head takes about eight seconds.

Tarah Schwartz:

Eight seconds?!

Brittany Sinclair:

Eight seconds! So aside from it just being impressive. What's really great about that is a lot of times, patients when they're not feeling well; they're not able to hold still. So the faster we can do that scan, the less chance that patients going to move and cause movement and then make the scan nondiagnostic.

Tarah Schwartz:

Okay, this is a bit of an odd question. But I'm curious to ask you, is there a part of the body that you like to look at the most when it comes to this this loaf of bread? Like I think like the brain must be really incredible. I mean, what is something that you really like to look at? Is that an odd question? I don't know. But I'm curious!

Brittany Sinclair:

It's not an odd question at all. I think we all have like our little pet areas that like we find really interesting. I would say the lungs. The lungs are really interesting. There's a lot of vasculature in there. One thing with patients; most of our patients are oncology patients. There's a higher likelihood that they could have like a blood clot in there. It's called a pulmonary embolism. And so every single scan I do, I have to slowly pass through the pulmonary trunk. It's just kind of like where your vessels fork into the lungs. And there's a higher likelihood of an embolism being there or a clot. And so we always check every single patient to make sure that they don't have that. Even though we're not radiologists; we don't diagnose anything. We do definitely check to make sure that there's nothing super urgent that a patient maybe would need to see an attending physician immediately or be sent to the emergency room.

Tarah Schwartz:

Brittany Sinclair, it has been really really interesting talking to you. Specialized medical imaging technologist at the MUHC. I feel like I learned a lot from our conversation and you're lovely and I can hear that you were very passionate about what you did this today.

Brittany Sinclair:

Thank you so much. I love talking about it. I love my job.

Tarah Schwartz:

Thanks so much, Brittany.

Brittany Sinclair:

Thank you.

Tarah Schwartz:

Next up on Health Matters, she is a young, vibrant mother of two who lives with low vision. She shares what it's like to not have full use of her eyes. I'm Tarah Schwartz. Welcome back to Health Matters on CJAD 800. It was a very special moment last week to witness Dr. Hady Saheb finishing his 50 km blindfolded running challenge. Dr. Saheb is an ophthalmologist who wanted to give back. He was inspired by what his patients live through every day, low vision and vision loss. He wanted to run in their shoes with the help of a sighted guide to raise awareness and money for glaucoma research and care at the MUHC. Jacintha Findley is one of Dr. Saheb's patients. She lives with low vision and attended the event. And she joins us now. Hello, Jacintha.

Jacintha Findley:

Good morning.

Tarah Schwartz:

Tell us when you first started to experience health issues with your eyes. What did you notice?

Jacintha Findley:

It's been years. Since I was about 15. A teenager when I first started having a little blurred vision. So when to an ophthalmologist and it been about 25 years or so, since I've been having problems. So the first thing that I started to notice was blurred vision. Then when I went they told me that it seemed to be a cataract.

Tarah Schwartz:

Is that what your diagnosis is a cataract or has it changed over the years?

Jacintha Findley:

There's actually no specific term for what I have, in the sense that it's glaucoma. It's uveitis, it's astigmatism. There's a lot of problems and we do not know the root of the problem yet. So I just continuously keep on having different problems. I've had many surgeries; cataracts, glaucoma surgery over the past 25 years. It hasn't been an easy one for me.

Tarah Schwartz:

It sounds like a really tough journey with your eyes. So just in the you currently live with low vision. Help us to understand what that is like.

Jacintha Findley:

It is very difficult. Right now I'm legally half-blind. I don't have any vision in my left eye, it's all a blur. A recent diagnosis actually, which hit me hard about a month ago. The eye is just so sick that they will actually have to remove the contents of the eye. In order for it not to cause me as much problems as it is now. How I'm living with it? It's a lot of anxiety and fear. And I'm talking about anxiety and fear in my daily life, daily routine. I have two children- one is 4 and one is 18. I work. I'm a social worker. So I'm a problem fixer. However, I feel like even my problems I actually can't fix. It's hard. But one day at a time.

Tarah Schwartz:

That sounds really hard. And I'm so sorry to hear about your recent diagnosis. That must be so difficult. You mentioned you have two daughters. How are they coping with what you're living with? And how do you deal with that as a mom?

Jacintha Findley:

I'm supposed to be, for the small one, the

Tarah Schwartz:

Yeah, we're speaking with Jacintha Findley. four-year-old, I suppose to be the protector. When half the time I feel like I can't be the mom that I wouldn't love to be; that protects her. For instance, just walking down steps. I'm scared because having low vision the depth perception is altered. So it's happened when I fallen down while going downstairs. So it's hard. The 18 year old; she tries to be there for me as much as possible. But she's a teenager. So when she has a time. We're talking about living with low vision loss. Do you have fear, Jacintha? I'm going to share something with you. I watched my father lose his vision in the years before his passing and it was so difficult and so challenging. And I'm wondering, is there fear there as well?

Jacintha Findley:

Oh, absolutely. There's a lot of fear in the sense that certain times, I can't drive at night and even walking at night is a daily fear. Am I going to see the rock or the branch that's in front of me, and it's happened where I didn't see it and almost tripped. So it's a daily fear.

Tarah Schwartz:

Yeah. And I guess when you're losing something that you have had; even though you've been struggling with it since you were a teenager. I guess that fear of the loss growing; is that something that you struggle with or that you live with as well? Not knowing what next year or the year after will hold?

Jacintha Findley:

It's exactly. Even though after a surgery that didn't go too well, maybe about five-six years ago. Yes, I lost a lot of vision, like everything is blurred. But now, to get the prognosis that they literally will have to completely take out everything. So instead of blurred vision is going to be nothing. So that is traumatic. Again, because there's no prognosis and there's no reason why this is all happening. Everyone says, oh, but you're so young to have a cataract; you are so young to have glaucoma. Yes, vision loss does not discriminate. There is no age that is associated with it. Don't think I'm 30 or 40 so I'm okay. No, you should always get your eyes checked out.

Tarah Schwartz:

I think that's one of the messages that Dr. Hady Saheb was trying to get across was sort of raising awareness about vision loss and how important it is to protect your eyes. So what is it like to be in the care of Dr. Saheb?

Jacintha Findley:

It gives me that sense of okay, I'm going through a lot. But that caring, that empathetic nature of Dr. Saheb is what makes it just a little bit easier. Dealing with something like this; it makes a world of a difference to have someone that actually cares.

Tarah Schwartz:

Dr. Saheb ran a 50 km blindfolded run that he completed over the course of the summer and finished last week. He's raising money and awareness for glaucoma research and care. Now, what did you think when you heard that he was going to be doing this 50 kilometres blindfolded. Wanting to step 50 kilometers in your shoes and other people's shoes. What did you think?

Jacintha Findley:

My first reaction is I just smiled. And I'm like, well, there he goes, again. Literally, trying to be more empathetic and doing this for his patients. Not just thinking of himself or seeing us as his numbers, but actually wanting to step into our shoes and see how it feels so that he can make him a better doctor. In my opinion. That's, that's what I think he did.

Tarah Schwartz:

I agree with you. I think that it will make him a better doctor. And I think it will make us better humans, if we all did that; which he encourages us to do, to take a moment and see what it would be like to step into someone's shoes, who is losing their vision. We're speaking with Jacintha Findley and we're talking about living with low vision and watching her ophthalmologist raise money and awareness for the cause. Now, you were there on Friday, October 7, when Dr. Saheb finished his 50 kilometer run. That's where we met. That's where I met your beautiful little girl and your mom. What was it like to be there as he completed those last five kilometers? What were you thinking? What were you experiencing?

Jacintha Findley:

The first thing that I started thinking, I'm like, oh. Because usually, when I see him in his office, he's has this coat on the right. The white coat and very professional. But this time, he was in his joggers, and he has his kids there as well. So I got to see the man behind the doctor. We usually when we go to the appointment, we just see that person, that's Dr. Saheb. But I got to see Hady and it was a breath of fresh air, who actually see the man behind the main doctor.

Tarah Schwartz:

Yeah, that's a really interesting comment. Because I I'm trying to imagine the juxtaposition from being in an office to seeing him sort of running these 5k with a large blindfold on he was running with his sighted guide. I also kind of felt being there that it was such a positive event. There was sort of this sense of community and sense of accomplishment. Did you feel any of that when you were there?

Jacintha Findley:

Absolutely. Absolutely. I have the utmost respect for Dr. Saheb. And taking the time out of his busy schedule, because this is not something he has to do. It is something he wants to do in order to be a better not only doctor and be a better person.

Tarah Schwartz:

And he also raised $40,000 and counting for glaucoma care and research at the MUHC, which is amazing. It really is Jacintha Findley, I want to thank you for joining us on Health Matters and for being who you are. Again, we met on Friday and you're such a lovely, inspiring, graceful person. I'm really happy to have met you and I appreciate you taking the time to talk with me today.

Jacintha Findley:

I thank you. Have a good rest of the day.

Tarah Schwartz:

You too. Coming up on Health Matters, a young researcher describes her award winning project. I'm Tarah Schwartz and this is Health Matters. Some of the most brilliant minds become physician researchers and dedicate their careers to finding solutions to health issues that challenge our lives. Dr. Laurence Chapuy is a junior scientist at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Center. She has recently been awarded the MI4 Pfizer Early Career Investigator Award for a study into Crohn's disease and inflammatory bowel disease. And she joins me now. Hello, Dr. Chapuy.

Dr. Laurence Chapuy:

Hello, Tarah.

Tarah Schwartz:

So first of all, congratulations on this award- early career investigator award. That means you're doing something very interesting very early in your career. Congratulations.

Dr. Laurence Chapuy:

Thank you. Thank you very much, Tarah.

Tarah Schwartz:

Tell us about what you are researching and what this award was given to you for.

Dr. Laurence Chapuy:

So as you said my research project is about inflammatory bowel disease that we call IBD. And that includes Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. So they are very frequent diseases, especially in Canada. They affect about 300,000 Canadians, including children. And we think that in 2030, they will affect one out of every 100 Canadians. So it's very important to pursue research on this very frequent disease, which has high burden for the population.

Tarah Schwartz:

And I'm wondering Dr. Chapuy, why is it going up so significantly? Because that sounds like already it's affecting as you mentioned 300,000 Canadians and going up. Why is that?

Dr. Laurence Chapuy:

We don't know exactly what are the causes that make the incidence of these diseases increasing in the last 30-40 years. But we know that it's a disease partly caused by the environment, and that this disease is caused by an abnormal immune response in our intestine, that will lead to chronic inflammation in the intestine of affected patients.

Tarah Schwartz:

Can you explain to us... I think I have a general idea of what inflammatory bowel diseases and Crohn's disease, but perhaps you can give us a better explanation so that we can really understand what your research is based on. How do you explain or define IBS?

Dr. Laurence Chapuy:

Yes, so IBD or inflammatory bowel disease; they are diseases that will give inflammation in the intestine. So the patients will suffer from diarrhea, blood in the stool, fatigue. This is because the immune system will create inflammation and the issue with this inflammation is that sometimes, when the intestine tries to heal, it will give some scarring in the intestine. In science, we call the scarring fibrosis. The issue when you have fibrosis in your intestine, and especially in Crohn's disease, is that your intestine will narrow and you will start to have very bad abdominal pain and you cannot eat because of this narrowing in your intestine.

Tarah Schwartz:

It sounds like a very challenging affliction to be living with.

Dr. Laurence Chapuy:

It's really a disease that can impair the quality of life and the daily life. So that's the focus of on my research program, and especially the program for what I got the MI4 grant. It's to try to better understand the role of immune cells in developing intestinal fibrosis to try to prevent fibrosis. So I can explain you in a little bit more details. What I would like to do to try to better understand the mechanism the pathophysiology of this fibrosis scarring to try to reverse it or to prevent it.

Tarah Schwartz:

I'm curious, Dr. Chapuy. We're speaking with Dr. Laurence Chapuy, we're talking about her Early Career Award for her research into Crohn's disease and inflammatory bowel disease. Is your research- you mentioned is focusing on the scarring- is it going to help prevent IBS from happening or is it to better care for patients who have it and perhaps decrease their pain and discomfort and improve their quality of life? Or is it both?

Dr. Laurence Chapuy:

My project is a basic science project. So it's really the understanding of the pathophysiology, of the mechanism. It's not directly a project that will help people with IBD tomorrow. But at the end, the idea is to try to find new drugs to prevent the disease. And of course, if you prevent the narrowing of the intestine, if you can reverse inflammation before it causes fibrosis; you will help the patient and you will improve their quality of life. Maybe I forgot to tell you that for the moment, we have no cure for IBD we have only treatments that can put the disease into remission, but we have no definitive cure. So once the patient start treatment, they need to continue this treatment for life. So I'm looking for both medications to improve your quality of life and maybe one day, treatments that can really cure the disease.

Tarah Schwartz:

Are there multiple researchers working on IBD and Crohn's disease and looking for better solutions?

Dr. Laurence Chapuy:

Many researcher looking for solutions for IBD. It's true in different fields. It's true, for example, in clinical and epidemiological research; trying to understand what are the factor in the environment, which will favor the disease. And it's also true in basic science research, people working on the immunology, like in my laboratory, but also people working, for example, the microbiota which is a very a la mode subject, you know, so studying the bacteria, the microbiota we have in our intestine. And so many researchers in many fields are trying to understand the different levels, the complex mechanism that can lead to inflammatory bowel disease.

Tarah Schwartz:

We're speaking with Dr. Lauren Chapuy, we're talking about IBD, inflammatory bowel disease, and Crohn's disease. I'm wondering Dr. Chapuy, for people who are listening and who know somebody or who are dealing with this struggling with this or living with this themselves, you kind of threw the word in cure, in part of your answer. And I'm wondering, is that a possibility down the road? Because I know you mentioned that there is no cure at the moment. Are we getting closer? Or is this something that is this far in the future?

Dr. Laurence Chapuy:

Yes, we are getting closer and closer. If we, if we look back 20 years ago, we only had a few medications, and medications with a lot of side effects. For the last few years, we have already many more medication because some patients were could not use the medication we had before. So already we improve the lot the care of patients with IBD. But with all the research that are on ongoing now, I really hope that in the next maybe 10 years, we will really improve the patient care.

Tarah Schwartz:

That's wonderful.

Dr. Laurence Chapuy:

Maybe find a cure would be ideal. And maybe the biggest improvements we can hope for in the next few years is the area of what we call personalized medicine. So personalized medicine is not only for IBD. It's everywhere in medicine now. It's trying to know what is the best treatment for a particular patient. And that's really the challenge in next few years. We have a lot of treatment for IBD now. But we don't always know what will be the best for the patient we have in front of us. One of the challenge in research now is to really find tools to answer this question- what will be the best treatment for the patient I'm taking care now and have in front of me in my office.

Tarah Schwartz:

Dr. Laurence Chapuy was awarded the MI4 Pfizer Early Career Investigator Award. Once again, congratulations Dr. Chapuy. Thank you for coming on the show and telling us about your very promising research. We appreciate your time.

Dr. Laurence Chapuy:

Thank you very much.

Tarah Schwartz:

Coming up on Health Matters, a seven year-old girl will be doing something very special tomorrow in support of breast cancer patients. We discuss her meaningful gesture next. I'm Tarah Schwartz you're listening to Health Matters. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and on Monday, we will be holding a special event at the hospital in support of research into metastatic breast cancer. Dimitra Maria Rassias is a seven year-old girl who was on a mission to give back to her community. She will be cutting her hair tomorrow for Pink in the City's Raise Craze, a special event in partnership with the MUHC Foundation. Mary Provias is Dimitris mom and she joins me now to speak about this special little girl. Hey, Mary, thank you for joining us.

Mary Provias:

Hi, I'm so pleased to be here.

Tarah Schwartz:

We're pleased to have you. So tell us about your little girl, Dimitra.

Mary Provias:

Oh, Dimitra Maria is a grade two student who loves to help others. She's a happy little girl who loves to dance and sing and be around people.

Tarah Schwartz:

I was just going to ask you how she got the idea to shave her head for breast cancer research. How does a seven year-old girl come up with this idea of saying I'm going to cut my hair. She's not shave her head; she's going to cut her hair. Tell me tell me how she came up with that idea.

Mary Provias:

Her maternal grandmother, my mom went through breast cancer a few years ago. She had a mastectomy, chemo and radiation which made her lose her hair. And she wanted to help the sick ladies as she calls them. Initially, she wanted to cut her hair to give some to my mom.

Tarah Schwartz:

Oh that's so sweet.

Mary Provias:

Because my mom, there's a spot she never got back from her hair. And then we explained to her that there's many women like this. So she says, what can I do? She didn't say organization, but how can we give back and give to other ladies like YaYa, in Greek for grandmother, to help them to have hair. And that's when we reached out to Pink in the City and so forth.

Tarah Schwartz:

That is just amazing. So how long is her hair right now? And how much is she planning to cut off tomorrow at the hospital?

Mary Provias:

She has very curly hair. So if you straighten up the goals really, I haven't measured it but it goes really down her back like past mid-back. It goes really long and she's going to cut it probably ear length so they're going to get a good amount of hair.

Tarah Schwartz:

Incredible. Now what was your first reaction when she said to you, Mommy, I'm going to cut my hair.

Mary Provias:

So I guess my father and I were impressed. We weren't shocked because we know what little girl, what a child she is. She's always out there to help all the time. Even in school, with her friends, at home. She's always looking for something to help people with. We're very proud of the young lady she's becoming when she came to us and mentioned that she wanted to give back.

Tarah Schwartz:

We're talking with Maria Provias, about her daughter Dimitra Maria, who is cutting a significant amount of her hair off for breast cancer that's taking place tomorrow. It's a collaboration between Pink in the City and the MUHC Foundation.

Mary Provias:

She had a fundraising goal of $5000 and she reached it. So we've upped it to $10,000. Her school was involved. So they're doing a little campaign where every classroom has a little jar and every child is bringing in change, money whatever they can every day. So that's going to be added also to the amount.

Tarah Schwartz:

Wow, that's incredible. So is her plan to get to $10,000? Is she committed to getting to that amount?

Mary Provias:

She is committed. We discuss it; not every day because she is a seven year old. But we discuss that she's just really amazed of how well she's done. So we're really proud of her.

Tarah Schwartz:

Okay, well let's see if we can help get Dimitra Maria to that $10,000. So if you're listening, and you want to cheer Dimitra on. She is already at $6,000. Her goal is $10,000. She's cutting off almost all of her hair during Raise Craze, which is tomorrow at the MUHC. Just head to MUHCFoundation.com- you'll see Dimitra and Raise Craze and Pink in the City. Just head on it and see if you can nudge her up to that $10,000. What does it mean to you Mary, as her mom, that she is so dedicated to giving back and supporting breast cancer patients in that way? It must be so moving.

Mary Provias:

It's moving. It's touching. It means the world to us. We're extremely touched that this little girl is ours and she's precious. She's showing us that she's becoming a strong, young lady. I'm hoping she can be a little mentor to other children. So they can give back and not because she is mine; but because she's doing this. I find she's growing up to be a good little girl.

Tarah Schwartz:

And I think it's really wonderful when children understand the value of giving back. I have a 10 year-old. So I have a beautiful little one who is not far from Dimitra's age. But I think that it's something that they will carry with them throughout their lives. Do you feel that way? If they learn the value of giving back early?

Mary Provias:

I do. I do. And I feel that she will tell you through into her teens and her adulthood life. And I'm hoping she will.

Tarah Schwartz:

Now let's talk about sweet Dimitra Maria, so she's cutting off a big chunk of her hair, like you said, going from middle of the back, up to her ears. Is she excited? Is she nervous? Is she stressed? How is she feeling? Because it's one thing to be raising the money and knowing that she's doing it for a great cause. It's another thing to know that tomorrow it's actually going to happen. So how is she feeling?

Mary Provias:

She's super excited. We've spoken to her. I tell her many times even before we started we wanted to make sure she understood that what she's doing. Her hair will be short. And her answer was mommy, I don't care it's going to a good cause. Even if they take it all off, it's going to grow back. So she's a little nervous, she says. But at the same time, she's super excited to do this. And to give back she says for all the good that God has given her.

Tarah Schwartz:

Oh, that's and she's very wise because that is the beautiful thing about hair. If you do cut it, it will grow back.

Mary Provias:

Yes. 1,000% She's not stressed about cutting her hair. I explained to her that there's going to be a lot of people. A radio station might be there; the TV station might be there. So she I think she's a little nervous with all that. But she's super excited to be doing something like this. It was her idea. And we just helped her with it.

Tarah Schwartz:

And are you surprised by how much money she's managed to raise?

Mary Provias:

Yes. At first, a lot of people told me to put $10,000 and I was being modest. I said, Well, I'm going to put $5000, she's a little girl. I don't know how much a little girl could raise. And she raised the $5000 in like a week and a half or something like that. Maybe less than two weeks. And then we put it up to 10. And whatever she raises, I mean, it's going to a fantastic cause. I'm sure every family has been touched by some sort of like cancer in their lives.

Tarah Schwartz:

It is going to a fantastic cause. It's going to support research into metastatic breast cancer, which is an affliction that so many women are dealing with. So it is a beautiful, beautiful thing that your sweet little girl Dimitra Maria is doing. Seven years old, she's cutting off her hair in Pink in the City's Raise Craze affiliated with the MUHC Foundation. It's happening tomorrow at the MUHC. We're speaking with Maria Provias about her daughter's head shave for breast cancer. I'm really, really looking forward to meeting both you and your daughter tomorrow. And I want to thank you for taking the time to speak with us today.

Mary Provias:

Thank you for having me. And we're super excited to meet you tomorrow as well.

Tarah Schwartz:

Thank you so much. I'm Tarah Schwartz. If you would like to learn more about Dimitra Maria and her head cut if you would like to donate and help get her up to that $10,000 or if you'd like to learn more about Jacintha Findley and Dr. Saheb's blindfolded run; anything we talked about on the show. Just head to MUHCFoundation.com And while you're browsing, join our newsletter so you'll stay up to date on all of the amazing stories that we have to share. I hope you'll join me again next Sunday. Thanks so much for listening to Health Matters and stay healthy.