My cancer diagnosis was considered “the good kind” or the most treatable of cases. Definitely not an easy road but the one most hope for when they are told they have breast cancer. Breast cancer is one of the most visible and supported diseases worldwide. We have pink ribbons and three-day walks, websites and books, treatment regimens and therapies proven to work at eradicating the disease.
Earlier this year, a friend of mine was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer. Advanced breast cancer is often referred to as “metastatic breast cancer,” or Stage IV breast cancer – where the disease has spread outside of the breast and to other organs such as the liver, bone or brain. While resources for early stage breast cancer patients are abundant, women with advanced breast cancer struggle to find information and support that is relevant to them.
The Count Us, Know Us, Join Us mission is to recognize those living with advanced breast cancer, their caregivers, supporters, friends, and family members. Several advocacy organizations partnered with Novartis Oncology to help bring much-needed awareness to advanced breast cancer, more attention to the community and to reinforce that these women do count.
In a recent global survey of 1,273 women living with advanced breast cancer, nearly two-thirds (63%) said they often feel like no one understands what they are going through and two in five said they feel isolated from the non-advanced breast cancer community. These statistics are heartbreaking and very real.
My friend was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer and metastasis to the liver at her initial diagnosis. I simply couldn’t offer much beyond my condolences, some healing vibes and lots of love when I learned the seriousness of her diagnosis. It’s an unfortunate disconnect we have even though we share the same breast cancer umbrella. Fortunately, my friend has a great group of caregivers, friends and family who understand her disease and how to support her through treatment. Not all have this kind of exceptional support. The same survey indicates that nearly three quarters (72%) said they think resources to help their friends and family cope with and understand their advanced breast cancer would be helpful. Additionally, two in five women report, support from their friends and family is not as strong now as it was when they were first diagnosed with advanced breast cancer.
Count Us, Know Us, Join Us has created information and resources specific for women living with advanced breast cancer and those who care for them. These resources can be found at advancedbreastcancercommunity.org. If you’ll be attending the 2014 BlogHer conference in Silicon Valley this week, please consider joining the Count Us, Know Us, Join Us team for a special discussion panel to learn more about advanced breast cancer and their mission to recognize those living with the disease, their caregivers, supporters, friends, and family members on Friday, July 25th immediately following Tig Notaro’s lunch keynote. The Count Us, Know Us, Join Us team will also be in a booth at the expo hall throughout the conference as well.