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When the heart and cancer converge

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When the heart and cancer converge
Jennifer Picado

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Ontario-Texas teamwork and life-saving surgery got Jennifer Picado to her university graduation

​Jennifer Picado was
just a few months away from finishing medical school when she got devastating news from her doctor.

The heart palpitations and breathing difficulties that she was struggling with for the past three years were not, as had been suspected initially, symptoms of anxiety. They were caused by a tumour that had grown right on her heart.

"The first surgeon I saw told me it was inoperable," recalls Ms. Picado, a 27-year-old resident of Montreal. "So I spoke to other surgeons who said the tumour needed to be removed right away, but the problem was that none of them had any experience removing cardiac tumours."

A referral from a cardiologist at McGill University Health Centre changed everything for Ms. Picado. She was directed to Dr. Robert James Cusimano, a cardiac surgeon at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre (PMCC) and one of only two doctors in North America with the expertise to treat such cardiac tumours.