Wednesday, October 12, 2011

MBC=IT SPREAD

I take too much for granted.  Because I am an over informed font of (mostly) useless information, sometimes I am stunned.  Tomorrow is the one single day during the entire month of October, BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH that is devoted strictly to raising awareness of Metastatic Breast Cancer.


A show of hands?  We are all aware that cancer can spread outside of the area where it began?  Are we aware that a breast cancer patient whose disease has traveled outside the breast is still a BREAST CANCER patient?  If the cancer decides, for example, to attack the brain, it's NOT brain cancer.  It's breast cancer that has spread to the brain.  Likewise, if a patient with lung cancer has a similar spread to the brain, it's NOT brain cancer.  It's LUNG cancer that spread to the brain.  


Why is this important?  Quite simply, when cancer spreads, I generally hear things like, "First it was breast cancer, now she has lung cancer and bone cancer."  There was a tweet chat the other night and the topic was metastatic disease.  In the old days, we would simply say, "It spread."  Maybe we need to just get off the big words and go back to basics.  


While the pink banners are flying and the balloon arches are floating and the ribbons are pinned everywhere, MBC is pink, too.  It's the pink that is on the bottom of the pile.  It's buried.  These aren't the feel good stories.  These are the patients living in pain.


These are the ones who will whisper to only their closest friends, "I have never been so afraid of anything in my entire life. I don't want to die."  These are words that were recently repeated to me because some (many?) MBC patients prefer to close out most of the outside world.


And, these are the words that were spoken by a few during that online chat on Monday night:

MBC is not a "type" of breast cancer. Coworker said "I never heard of MBC is it a rare disease?" It is incureable. Treatment is 4ever 


treatment is for the rest of our lives. I find it relentless and grueling. Many people ask me when treatment will be over?


One third of all breast cancer patients will become metastatic. Ignore us at your peril.


I also want people to know that very little money is directed towards mets research and this has to change.


I've had people say when I say I've got metastatic breast cancer 'what does metastatic mean?' jaws drop when I explain


we learned this spring that only 3% of breast cancer research funds are for metastatic cancer research


... ultimately, people don't die of a tumor in a breast. We die after the cancer has spread,become metastatic - or from treatment.


It would really help if "The Media" would do justice to MBC. The stories need to be told well-not sappy or pinky...


Media likes stories w happy endings or that have possibilities. Possibs 4 mets = rare 




My energy, especially this month, is mostly for my friend whose mets progressed at warp speed. She got the all clear.  The Stage 1, All Clear.  And a year later, It Spread.  After three months on meds to attempt to address what was happening in the bones, a rescan of the bones showed no change. Further testing showed mets in the lungs, liver and brain.  In THREE months time, while on chemotherapy.  Every likely organ that breast cancer likes to go, it went.


Billions of dollars will be raised, especially this month.  I hope it helps those who need it most. 

3 comments:

  1. AnneMarie, this is a very important post. I found the line "One third of all breast cancer patients will become metastatic. Ignore us at your peril" particularly chilling. I had no idea, and I troll the world of BC daily. Keep up the good work my dear!
    -Renn

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  2. Thanks, Renn... we troll together. Today was emotionally draining for so many. Me, Included. I do appreciate the words of encouragement! Now, it's time to gear up for the Army of Women and get this "party" started. It's time already...... one million women? How can it be that we are still shy of 360,000???? xoxo

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  3. I hope you are making (and taking) some time for AnneMarie. You are one busy bee! So proud of all the work you are doing. Take care of yourself in the process!
    xoxo

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