Lately I’ve got time on my mind. As I’ve gotten older, it seems like it’s passing so much more quickly. This past summer went in just a blink of an eye, as have the 49 summers before it. When I really think about it, time is so ephemeral; if you don’t mark it with milestone after milestone, it seems to slip by without notice. Which also gets me thinking about what I would do if I found out I had limited time left on earth, especially when I had a health scare like this one.
I’m not the only woman who has health scares, and for many, it’s a lot more serious. In fact, for some women, their warnings turn into a life-threatening reality. Especially if they are diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer (mBC). Not sure what that is? You’re not alone. Fifty per cent of Canadians don’t know what mBC is. But 50% of women who have this incurable disease are likely to live just 18 to 24 months beyond their diagnosis, and only 22 per cent of patients have a relative survival rate of five years.
Are you surprised about all this? I was. Especially since I didn’t know there was a difference between early stage breast cancer and mBC, and along with 90 per cent of Canadians, I believed that an early diagnosis would improve the prognosis of the disease. But I was wrong. In reality, approximately 20-30 per cent of women first diagnosed with early stage breast cancer will go on to develop metastatic disease in their lifetime. And of the 26,300 women that will be diagnosed this year, about 5-10 per cent will be diagnosed with mBC upon first diagnosis.
Given these stats, it’s clear that there is huge need for research and treatment. From 2000 to 2013, mBC-focused research made up only 7% of the $15 billion invested in research by major governmental and nonprofit funders in North America and the United Kingdom’s breast cancer research. And sadly, the lengthy and inequitable wait times for access to treatment can cause physical, emotional, and financial strain on patients who don’t have time to waste.
It’s a sorry state of affairs, but the worst part is that no one wants to talk about it. That’s why we’re talking about it. The fact is, if we don’t talk about mBC, then we leave those who have the disease feeling isolated, alone, and excluded from the breast cancer story.
But not anymore. It’s about time we highlight the unique needs of the brazen women living with and fighting mBC. That’s why we’ve partnered with The Canadian Breast Cancer Network (CBCN), Rethink Breast Cancer (Rethink), the Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation (QBCF) and a leading research-based pharmaceutical company in Canada to spread the word that It’s About mBC Time.
What does that mean? We want all of you to know the challenges that women with mBC face and ensure that they have access to support, clinical research, and funding for innovative treatments before their time runs out.
To understand how important time is as a differentiator between early stage breast cancer and metastatic breast cancer, watch this emotional video.
How can you become a part of this brazen movement and help women diagnosed with mBC?
Educate yourself: Visit the mBC website and browse the video content and powerful stories of Canadians who have been touched by mBC. Access information and links to resources for those affected by mBC.
Share, share, share: Without awareness, we can’t make a difference. Use social media and the hashtag #mbctime to share the video and stories of Canadians touched by the disease with your network. You’ll find it all on the Facebook pages of the partner organizations—CBCN, Rethink and QBCF—throughout the month of October.
Spread the word: While many of us know that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, only 50 per cent of Canadians know what Metastatic Breast Cancer is. Show your support and stand with mBC patients in October, and beyond.
Have we changed your perspective on time now? Tell us: what would you do if you found your time was suddenly limited?
Note: This post was sponsored by a leading research-based pharmaceutical company in Canada. All opinions are our own.