Forty years ago, women with breast cancer were viewed as tragic victims, and they mostly dealt with their disease in isolation. But over the years, the pink revolution, and the “coming out” of celebrity women such as Betty Ford, has brought the disease out into the light. Those with the disease were transformed from victims to survivors. Popular culture has even portrayed the breast cancer experience as an enlightening or enriching experience. There is now a pink cheerfulness and sisterhood associated with having survived and beaten this disease.
But those living with Stage IV disease have been left out. Unfortunately, women living with advanced breast cancer are still isolated in our society. And perhaps the pink revolution has made it even more difficult for these women. Because now, many people, and even some within the breast cancer community, want to view those with metastatic disease as those who didn’t do what they were supposed to, didn’t get their mammograms on time, didn’t fight hard enough, didn’t stay cheerful enough, didn’t exercise or eat well. It’s much easier this way than facing the reality of breast cancer, and how little control we have over the disease.
The reality is that approximately 5% of the over 180,000 women diagnosed with breast cancer each year have Stage IV or metastatic disease at the initial diagnosis, and between 20-30% of the rest will have metastatic spread of the disease in the future. By 2011 there is expected to be 162,000 women living with metastatic breast cancer in the U.S., according to Dr. William Gradishar from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
It’s time we bring those living with metastatic breast cancer out into the light too.
For more information on Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day click here.
For information and support: