While organizations like Susan G. Komen have promoted the importance of early detection in defeating breast cancer, there is another group that struggles to be heard. Women with Stage 4 metastatic breast cancer (MBC) are working to educate the public about the realities of living with what they refer to as “mets”.
Cancer becomes metastatic when it travels through the blood to create tumors in the lungs, liver and other parts of the body. Between 20 and 30 percent of women who are diagnosed with early stage breast cancer will develop MBC, which is treatable but not curable.
Jody Schoger, an MBC patient and cancer awareness advocate, explains the difference in philosophy for treating both types. She says that when she received her initial diagnosis, her doctors pulled out all the stops in an attempt to put the tumor in permanent remission. With MBC, however, the best they can hope for is to stabilize the disease so they use a minimum of treatment needed to obtain the maximum effect.
Misconceptions about MBC
Women with MBC are frustrated that the focus on “survivorship” has resulted in a number of erroneous concepts about the disease. Pfizer Oncology surveyed 2,000 people on the topic and found that 60 percent of respondents knew little to nothing about MBC and 50 percent believed that it was a result of patients not taking care of themselves.
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