Here and Now ?

This came to my attention today, and who would have guessed that 81% of UK respondents to a Novartis Oncology commissioned survey are aware that early breast cancer can be treated to the patient is free of the disease, but 77% were unsure of did not know that advanced breast cencer cannot be treated so the patient can be free of the disease.

I am in shock – not. ALL the attention; all the awareness campaigning has been about prevention and early stage breast cancer. Quite possibly the 23% who did know that advanced, or Metastatic, breast cancer can’t be cured are those who have known someone who has died of this disease. According to the latest statistics that I can find nearly 12,000 people a year die of MBC, or 35 people a day ( In the US about 40,000 die annually (110 per day – and globally in 2008 breast cancer caused 458,000 deaths of men and women.

While early detection does save lives it is a sad fact that it is not a guarentee that the cancer will not progress and become Metastatic. About 10% of those diagnosed with Metastatic (Stage IV) breast cancer each year never had a diagnosis of early stage breast cancer as their cancer had already spread. That 10% can’t be helped by early detection. The 30% who will develop Metastatic Breast Cancer have not been helped by an early diagnosis … and yet only about 3% of breast cancer research funding is dedicated to Metastatic research.

What exactly is the Here and Now campaign trying to accomplish without any real progress being made to find treatments for Metastatic Breast Cancer? Scare people? I know that they are promising more later this year, presumably to do with the Breast Cancer Awareness jamboree in October, but what is a ‘sound installation’ called I Am Not The Cancer going to achieve, other than give the sponsors the feeling that they are getting their moneys worth whilst being seen to support the Arts? Is it even going to be seen by a large number of people, or only those invited to attend the Pan-European launch of the Here & Now campaign in Brussels recently?

What those of us with Metastatic Breast Cancer actually need is practical help and support, rather than being made to feel as secondary as the title of Secondary Breast Cancer, which is the one usually used in the UK, actually seems to be. After all we don’t have PRIMARY breast cancer, as in first place, more important, as in gets all the attention. Secondary doesn’t seem to make it seem as important; to be in second place; after Primary (First) place. Where are the breast cancer nurses who so cosset those with early stage breast cancer? The BCNs who console those with ESBC about losing their hair and how tough it must be to only have an 80% chance of being alive in 10 years when my chances of making it to 10 years were 2% and having to deal with life after breast cancer and the possibility that it may return.

For me there is no life AFTER breast cancer, only death after breast cancer.

Do I feel supported? Not Here & Now
Do I feel that people understand that my cancer cannot now be cured? Not Here & Now
Do I feel that the Here & Now campaign will make a real difference? Get Real! Not without REAL PROGRESS.


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