Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day on October 13 is a time to gain and spread knowledge of what sufferers are up against and how society can help. Metastatic means that what began as a case of early-stage breast cancer has metastasized, or spread to other organs (lungs, bones, etc) outside the breasts, and is now considered to be stage four cancer. At this point the only care option is to treat the advanced cancer and its side effects, including anxiety; there is no cure for metastatic breast cancer as of this writing. Treatments may include surgeries and chemotherapy, as well as possible clinical trials of new drugs, which along with other palliative care can help improve quality of life and lengthen life span itself. Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day is part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month and presents an opportunity for us to increase awareness and visibility for those who are championing and fighting for scientific advances.
HISTORY OF METASTATIC BREAST CANCER AWARENESS DAY
In 2009 the House and Senate unanimously passed a resolution to recognize one day of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, October, as specifically devoted to metastatic breast cancer (MBC). The best part is how the proposal reached the floors of Congress to begin with. A group of nine MBC patients and their families had traveled to Washington DC and picketed and demonstrated, and these brave souls were able to catch the attention (with the help of phone-wielding friends back home) of the right people to initiate a vote.
But this is no time to fall into complacency. The pinpointing of one day merely means that, now that the word is out, the onus is upon the public to take action. As stated by the Metastatic Breast Cancer Network, “[n]ow it is up to every metastatic breast cancer patient and those who love and support them to find ways to make use of this day…to further our cause to support those living with the disease and demand research to find treatments to extend our lives.”
So learn the facts and stand strong with your fam, on National Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day.
METASTATIC BREAST CANCER AWARENESS DAY TIMELINE
A West Virginia senator introduces a bill to reward the person who finds a cure for cancer and to create a commission to research possible cures.
The National Institute of Health (NIH) Revitalization Act of 1993 pushes the National Cancer Institute to do more to address breast cancer and other “women's cancers,” resulting in controlled studies being done on MBC risks and treatments.
A study from the National Cancer Institute shows that metastatic breast cancer cases are increasing in number, with 150,000 new cases of MBC in the U.S.
An estimated two million women find out they have breast cancer. It's now the most common cancer in women and the second most common cancer overall.
METASTATIC BREAST CANCER AWARENESS DAY FAQS
What is the color for metastatic breast cancer?
A thin pink ribbon is used to signify that the cancer originated in the breast.
When is Breast Cancer Awareness Month?
What is “scanxiety”?
This term refers to ongoing anxiety about the patient’s quarterly MBC check, with the anxiety likely to peak as the scan date approaches. Many women and men are treated for the mental anguish of the ordeal, as well as the physical symptoms.
HOW TO OBSERVE METASTATIC BREAST CANCER AWARENESS DAY
Learn something new
In being a part of the solution, start with yourself. Commit to learning something new — whether by doing online research, volunteering with a local organization, or attending a Metastatic Breast Cancer Day event.
Contribute to the cure
If you’re about to choose a major in college, consider medicine with a focus on oncology, or another supporting professional role. If not, make a one-time or yearly donation to a cancer-fighting organization. Do anything you can to help overcome this disease.
Spread the love
If someone you know is battling breast cancer, reach out to them. Let them know that you want to understand what they're going through and to give your support.
FIVE TIPS FOR BREAST SELF-EXAMS
Check by feel
Starting with the outside of your breast and moving to the inside (sternum), use dime-sized circular motions of varying pressure to check for lumps over the entire breast. Repeat for the other breast.
Do a visual check
In front of a mirror, do a visual exam from all possible angles, checking for any abnormal coloration, swelling, etc.
Make it a routine
It’s recommended to do your self-exam once a month after your period. If your period has ended due to menopause or is irregular, designate a specific day out of the month for your exam.
Remember, 80% of all breast lumps turn out to be non-cancerous. If you discover one, do call your doctor, but don’t let anxiety take hold.
The Maurer Foundation, a respected organization fighting breast cancer in all its forms, recommends that not only women but also men should do a monthly self-exam.
WHY METASTATIC BREAST CANCER AWARENESS DAY IS IMPORTANT
It’s often misunderstood
Metastatic breast cancer is the only deadly form of the disease, yet a majority of studies, sources of funding, and calls for attention are dedicated to detecting and treating early-stage cases.
It drives new research
As more people understand metastatic breast cancer, more people will be donating, researching, and fighting for a cure. Right now, metastatic breast cancer is not classified as a chronic disease, but researchers believe it one day could be, and that gap is just one example of how much more needs to be found out.
It builds support networks
Most people know someone who is battling or has battled breast cancer. The more that friends and family of sufferers understand the disease, the better support they can give the patient in the fight against MBC.
METASTATIC BREAST CANCER AWARENESS DAY DATES