October 13th each year is designated as National Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day. One day. One day out of 31. Breast Cancer Awareness Month dedicates one measly day to the only kind of breast cancer that kills, the metastatic kind.
This is just one more thing Breast Cancer Awareness Month has turned inside out. One day is not enough.
There are real people behind the numbers.
The roughly 116 women and men who die each and every day from metastatic breast cancer in the US alone. Wives, sisters, daughters, mothers, grandmothers, aunts, cousins, friends, neighbors and co-workers. And we must not forget the husbands, brothers, sons, fathers, grandfathers and uncles because yes, men can and do get breast cancer too.
One day is not enough.
There are lots of reasons why one day is not enough, but I’ll start with these:
1. If you or your loved has been diagnosed with early stage breast cancer, you or your loved one could become metastatic sometime down the road.
Just because a person is diagnosed at an early stage, this does not mean her/his cancer cannot potentially metastasize and become stage IV later on. And this can happen even many years later. This is not meant to be a scare tactic; it is meant to be fact sharing.
2. Some women and men are diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer at initial diagnosis. This is also known as a “de novo” diagnosis.
Being diagnosed at any stage is tough, but being initially diagnosed stage IV is beyond tough. Way beyond. And it does not mean the person did anything wrong. The stigma of not catching it early has to end. It must end.
3. In order to figure out effective ways to prevent, detect and treat metastasis, we need to extensively research everything about stage IV.
We need to try to figure out why some cancers metastasize, how to slow it down when it does happen, or better yet how to stop it in its tracks. We also need to figure out better and less harsh treatment options for those living with stage IV now. We need more research dollars spent specifically on mets related research. Lots more.
4. It’s only logical to support those in greatest need is it not?
Stage IV women and men deserve MORE support, not less, which ironically has often been the case in awareness campaigns of past and in research dollar allotments as well. We simply cannot allow this to be the case any longer.
5. All breast cancer patients matter.
We must fully embrace, include and advocate for our stage IV sisters and brothers because we are all in this together and because it’s the right thing to do.
One day is not enough.
My mother died from metastatic breast cancer in 2008. Her cancer was detected early, “only” a stage 2 cancer four years earlier. A lumpectomy and radiation were supposed to be enough. They weren’t. I have had too many friends die from this disease as well. Too many families have been impacted by metastatic breast cancer, just too many.
I will not forget.
None of us should.
And one day is not enough.
What would you like to say about metastatic breast cancer today?
Do you think one day is enough?
Who do you remember on Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day and every day?
Image via Metastatic Breast Cancer Network