Survivor Carol Ann Cole Tells Canadians that 'Hope Changes'
Thousands of Canadian women with metastatic breast cancer and their loved ones are marking the first Canadian Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day on October 13, urging Canadians to acknowledge them and delivering the message that "hope changes."
"Within the breast cancer community, there are still a large number of women living with metastatic disease who find it challenging to connect with others who share their diagnosis," said Willow Breast Cancer Support Canada Executive Director Virginia Yule. "Despite high levels of recognition of the importance of research for a cure for breast cancer, metastatic breast cancer has 'flown under the radar' because nobody wants to talk about breast cancer spreading and how this changes the prognosis."
This year, an estimated 22,700 women in Canada will be diagnosed with breast cancer and an estimated 5,400 women will die from breast cancer in Canada. Ten per cent of women who receive a diagnosis of breast cancer will develop metastatic disease, and approximately 30 per cent of women who are first diagnosed with earlier stages of breast cancer will go on to develop metastatic disease, which means their cancer has spread to a different site of the body.
Willow Breast Cancer Support Canada is calling for a national Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day to shed light on this type of breast cancer, and recognize the needs, as well as the strength and hope that women with this diagnosis represent. This October, Willow is asking Canadians to designate October 13, 2009 as Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day and they are launching a new metastatic breast cancer portal at beacon.willow.org where women with a metastatic diagnosis can go to connect with each other and be counted.
One in two women with metastatic breast cancer believes the disease gets too little public attention, which is why the purpose of this day is to change the way metastatic breast cancer is viewed by the breast cancer community and the public at large. This initiative is grounded on the belief that those living with metastatic breast cancer need to be recognized and included.
A recent report by global cancer advocates says that despite the prevalence of the disease, "women with metastatic breast cancer often report feelings of isolation from the broader breast cancer community, whose public focus and advocacy efforts are largely directed toward early stage disease".
"Many people don't want to talk about a type of cancer that is more likely to kill you. We focus on research, we focus on a cure, which is important, but so are the people for whom the cure will come too late, and we need to support them now," says breast cancer survivor, author and Order of Canada member Carol Ann Cole. "When my own breast cancer returned after 16 years of remission, it really changed my perspective in life, even more so than my original diagnosis. I realized that hope changes."