WHAT IS IT ?
Metastatic Breast Cancer is breast cancer that has left the breast and spread to other organs.
It’s not a type of breast cancer, it’s a stage, the advanced stage, also referred to as stage IV.
Any early-stage breast cancer - even pre-cancer DCIS - can become metastatic, even if caught early and treated aggressively. Sometimes months, years or decades later. In fact, about 1 in 3 early stage patients, after being told they are “cured” become metastatic and will eventually die of the disease.
IS THERE A CURE ?
Metastatic breast cancer is not curable (yet!). Women and men with metastatic breast cancer will receive treatment for the rest of their lives and the breast cancer is likely going to kill them one day. The length of survival varies by disease subtype and response to treatment. A number of treatments are available, especially for some subtypes and people are living years and in some cases even decades with the disease. But many women and men die within a couple of years of diagnosis, especially young ones that tend to have aggressive cancers. Breast cancer deaths are all due to metastatic breast cancer. When the cancer is only in the breast, it doesn’t kill. It’s the metastasis to vital organs that does.
Why It’s Not Pink?
There are many aspects about the color of the breast cancer ribbon that don’t convey the tragedy of this disease.
First, people look at pink and think of it as light and fluffy and not very serious. It adds to the wrong perception that breast cancer is the “good cancer” and that the disease is largely cured. That is not true. In the U.S. alone, every year over 40,000 people die of breast cancer. That’s 113 every day. And despite all the money that goes towards pink campaigns, this number hasn’t budged in decades.
Second, pink is often meant as a feminine color but breast are not female organs. Men have breasts too and men can also get breast cancer. Even worse than the color pink is the sexualization of breast cancer with campaigns such as “save second base” and “save the tatas”. Breasts are organs and when talking about an illness it shouldn’t be sexualized.
Some links and topics I found worth reading troughout my journey
Exercise for fatigue
Patient involvement in research
Connecting with other patients
How advocacy can bring meaning to a patient’s life
Research spending on MBC
Counting the people living with MBC