In 2009, the United States Senate and House of Representatives declared October 13 as Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day. This feat was accomplished by a small group of women who persevered to bring the recognition beyond the occasional local and state proclamations to the federal level. It is fitting that this recognition comes in the middle of the month – the month that is known as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. To many of us in the metastatic breast cancer community, October has become “Pinktober.” There is no getting away from it, and while we are grateful for the awareness the BCAM events have created over the years, I think it is safe to say it’s time to move to the next level. We are aware. Now we need to advocate for the cure.
My stage 4 diagnosis came in October, 2009. Since that time, I have made myself available for interviews and have advocated for my metsisters and brothers to do what I can to educate others about the reality of metastatic breast cancer. Unfortunately, one of the unintended results of what October has become is that there are many people who actually think there is a cure for breast cancer. On more than one occasion over the past 2 years, I’ve heard things like, “my friend was diagnosed 8 years ago, was on a pill for 5 years and now she’s cured.” Recently, NBC newscaster Andrea Mitchell announced that she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She said “this disease can be completely cured if you find it at the right time.” Unfortunately, people who have the power to have their voices heard don’t realize how much damage they do to our cause when they come out with comments that are simply not true.
For myself, and others with metastatic breast cancer, October is the cruelest month of the year because we know that despite everyone’s good intentions, less than 5% of monies raised goes to metastatic breast cancer research and that the number of deaths in the US from breast cancer has not changed significantly since we all became aware and Pinktober became a non-stop commercial for corporations embracing the pink ribbon as their cause du jour.
What do you think? Let’s start the conversation!
With hope for the cure,