About Breast Cancer Support Services

Breast Cancer Support Services

Breast Cancer Support Services provides comfort and support to women and families living with breast and gynecologic cancers. We offer programs and services to help deal with the stress of treatments, information to help make good decisions about health care, and peer support so that they know they are not alone. We provide monthly support groups, holistic therapies, information, and most important, experience. We can help to make their breast cancer journey a little less frightening and confusing.

Breast Cancer Support Services is supported by the generosity of our community and members. We rely on donations from people like you to provide the programs and services to assist women and their families, as they live with a cancer diagnosis. BCSS has been located in Burlington for 25 years, and serves the communities of Burlington, Hamilton, Milton, Oakville and Niagara. Our programs support real people, people that you may know.

Breast Cancer Support Services also provides other important services. We deliver our Wellness Programs to high school students, community groups and corporations throughout the Golden Horseshoe, encouraging people to live healthier and reduce their risks of cancer.

Our centre is located at 695 Brant Street in Burlington. You can drop in, phone for support or utilize the free services offered at BCSS

How we Help…

Breast Cancer Support Services provides a wide range of programs, services and information for those living with women’s cancers.

We work directly with women and families to offer education and support during a cancer diagnosis. We offer educational programs to schools and community groups that deliver information about reducing your risk and cancer screening.

Our programs and services are provided free of charge through the support of our community. Membership helps us to offer our Peer Support, information services and holistic therapies at no charge. Membership is only $10.00 per year, and is waived for the first year, for anyone newly diagnosed.

The programs at BCSS are made possible by our Volunteers. Our support groups, holistic therapies, peer support, fundraising events, and more are all run by volunteers. We have a wide range of volunteer opportunities available throughout the year.

Volunteering enables you to learn new skills, share your time and experience with others and meet new people. BCSS volunteers are wonderful, generous people working together as an important part of our team.

The Gift Video will inspire you to find meaning in your diagnosis and life

Click here to watch “The Gift”

The Mission of Breast Cancer Support Services

Mission Statement

Breast Cancer Support Services is a non-profit organization dedicated to the support of people affected by cancer, with a focus on breast, ovarian and other gynecologic cancers. Survivors and volunteers are the heart of our organization, providing compassionate support in our warm and inviting home and throughout the community. We provide information about cancer, health education and wellness programs.

Contact Breast Cancer Support Services

695 Brant Street
Burlington, ON
L7R 2H4

905 634 2333


Send us mail

Board of Directors

President: Lisa VanArnhem

Vice Chair: Nancy Schwenger

Secretary: Carol Nie

Brian Crawford Past Chair

Shirley Turnbull Past Chair

Acting Treasurer: Shelley Schulte

Jo-Anne Stevens

Kelly Arnott

History of Breast Cancer Support Services


  • Pat Kelly and Barb Sullivan founded BCSS in 1988. Both had been treated for breast cancer and felt the need to meet with other women survivors, with whom they could share information. With six women, they formed a support group and held meetings at Barb’s home.
  • By April 1988, the group had grown to twenty and had moved the meetings to larger quarters at the Burlington YMCA.


  • A year later, BCSS became incorporated and received charitable status as well. The first donation received was from the Junior League of Hamilton/Burlington – $200.00.
  • In April 1989 BCSS members attended the Y-ME Conference in Chicago. Thereafter, the BCSS group was modeled on Y-ME’s self help for breast cancer.


  • BCSS sponsored the Halton Women’s Health Project, funded by Ontario Ministry of Health, Health Promotion Branch.


  • BCSS published the information booklet “What you Need to Know About Breast Cancer” funded by the Hamilton Foundation.


  • BCSS helped launch Breast Cancer Action Ottawa 
  • An Executive Director was hired.
  • BCSS was awarded a $50,000 grant from the Ontario Ministry of Health for the purpose of “enhancing access to information related to coping with breast cancer.”


  • BCSS was awarded $218,000 from the Health Promotion Branch of Health and Welfare Canada (covering four years) to establish the Breast Cancer Support Network of Ontario Project.
  • BCSS, in cooperation with the Zonta Club of Burlington 1, established “Mammacheck”, a program to teach women breast self-examination.
  • The Trillium Foundation awarded a grant to BCSS to help develop our self-sustaining financial independence.


  • BCSS made a successful proposal to Health and Welfare Canada to establish Ontario’s Breast Cancer Support and Resource Center now known as Willow.
  • BCSS welcomed the Minister of Health, Diane Marla, to the office. She announced an $80,000 grant to establish a program to evaluate self-help programs.


  •  BCSS, through funding received from the Trillium Foundation, hired a consultant for Board development and training.
  • BCSS held its first memorial service to honor the lives of members who have passed away.
  • BCSS members participated in regional consultation meetings for the newly formed Canadian Breast Cancer Network.


  • BCSS collaborated with the Breast Cancer Information Exchange Project, AVON and Health Canada to produce the latest version of “What You Need to Know about Breast Cancer.” BCSS printed additional copies of the booklet, through funding received form the Hamilton Community Foundation.

  • BCSS sponsored the successful application for funding from Health Promotion and Programs Branch, Ontario Region, Health Canada, for “Breast Cancer Self-Help in Ontario: A research Study.” Dr. Ross Gray, Psychologist at the Toronto Sunnybrook Regional Cancer Centre, managed the study.


  • BCSS sponsorship of the Breast Cancer Self-Help in Ontario Project was completed under the management of Dr. Ross Gray.
  • BCSS members attended the first Canada/US Breast Cancer Advocacy Conference, as well as the 1997 Preventative Oncology Seminar sponsored by the O.C.T.R.F. and a seminar entitled “Ethical Issues in Women’s Health: The delicate
  • BCSS’ sponsorship of The Network Project is completed. The Network (under the continued direction of Chris Sinding) was integrated, as planned with the Ontario Breast Cancer Support and Resource Centre (Willow) in Toronto.
  • BCSS collaborated with the City of Burlington, Canadian Cancer Society and Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital in a Breast Health Awareness Forum.


  • BCSS amended the Mammacheck program to be suitable for young women. A pilot project was accepted into Burlington High Schools and will expand into all of Halton in the fall.


  • Name changed from Burlington Breast Cancer Support Services to Breast Cancer Support Services. (serving Halton/Hamilton-Wentworth)


  • Moved into a new premises located in the Office Galleria of the Burlington Mall.
  • Received “The Bridge Over Troubled Water Quilt” and displayed it in the back of our centre.
  • Received a grant from the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation to expand the Mammacheck breast self-examination program. The program’s new title is Breast Health Workshops.


  • BCSS partnered with Clothing for Charity Ltd. and Sunoco Inc. to provide a clothing donation program and proceeds go to the Breast Health Fund of Canada.
  • BCSS changed its status with the Canadian Breast Cancer Network from member to partner.


  • BCSS got a new logo and launched a new website.
  • 3 staff members and 1 volunteer from BCSS attended the world conference on Breast Cancer in Victoria B.C.
  • BCSS started a new young women’s support group.
  • A staff member participated in the Canadian Breast Cancer Network stakeholders meeting.
  • BCSS presented with the community award for CIBC Run For The Cure.
  • Clothing for Charity graciously donated a large amount of money towards the purchase of our new home.
  • On November 20th BCSS moved into the home on Brant Street.


  • The official grand opening of the BCSS new location on  Brant Street.
  • Blair Lancaster was hired as Executive Director and launched the Capital Campaign.
  • We offered two support groups each month and introduced a new support group to the Milton Community.
  • Attended the Support and Advocacy Conference and took part in the development of a Breast Cancer Charter of Rights.


  • The Capital Campaign was conducted during 2004-2005 raising over $500,000.00.  This included a $50,000.00 Grant from the Trillium Foundation for home improvements and to make the premises accessible.
  • We renovated the garage into a meeting area; the basement was renovated for the wigs and prosthesis area; the kitchen was made into a meeting space for nutritional programs and the washroom was renovated to be accessible.  It was a busy year building our premises.
  • We continued to lobby the Federal Government on providing a National Strategy for Breast Cancer.  Attended the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation Conference.  Developed a policy manual for volunteers and staff.  Initiated new holistic healing programs.


  • Leon Denbok of Denbok Landscaping and The Rotary Club of Burlington North, took the lead in building our Serenity Garden.  The garden is a wonderful asset to our community offering hope, peace and serenity for anyone affected by Breast Cancer. The Grand Opening celebration was May 2006. Our programs continued to expand and grow as our premises have.


  • BCSS launches a Comfort Bag Program, designed for women having a mastectomy.  It includes information for after surgery including a pillow for under the arm.  The demand has been fantastic.

2010 -2015

We have developed many wonderful programs for our community, including the addition of programs for gynecologic cancers.  We continually strive to meet the needs for our community through these programs.