What is metastatic breast cancer?
Metastatic breast cancer causes over 40,000 deaths in the United States every year. It is how people die of breast cancer. Metastatic means that breast cancer cells have relocated from the breast and spread to other organs, most commonly liver, lungs, bones, or brain. Once breast cancer cells are discovered in other organs, once the metastasis has happened, it is a stage 4 cancer and will not be cured. The best that our medical profession can do at that point is to "manage" the disease through a variety of treatment and keep the patient alive and comfortable for as long as possible. Although many people can live with metastatic disease for many years, the average survival rate once metastatic diagnosis has occurred is 36 months. Up to 30% of people initially cured of their breast cancer will later be diagnosed with metastatic disease.
People do not die from breast cancer when the cells are in the breast but only after those cells have spread to the other organs. In spite of that fact, very little of research funding is used to learn how to prevent the metastasis of breast cancer cells. What causes the cells to spread in some cases but not in others? What could be done to prevent the cells from traveling?
Of the estimated 6 billion dollars dedicated to breast cancer research annually, it is estimated that as little as 5% (or maybe less) is directed to understanding, preventing, and curing metastatic breast cancer. That seems to be a little ironic since metastatic breast cancer causes 100% of the breast cancer deaths.
The Breast Cancer Network of WNY contributes to and collaborates with the Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester in the BCCR Research Initiative where significant annual grants are awarded to local researchers working specifically on metastatic breast cancer. These researchers are affiliated with such institutions as Cornell University, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, University of Rochester, and others. The grants however, are given directly to the doctors to be used in their research and in their labs. 100% of the donations we receive for metastatic research will go directly to the researcher. There are few opportunities to donate to breast cancer research with such assurance that your money is being uses as you intended. The second line of our mission statement says ...
We are dedicated to ending breast cancer and the deaths it causes.
Our commitment to educating people about metastatic disease and raising money for research is one of the ways we are doing it
Holley Kitchen made a short video about metastatic breast cancer that she published to facebook. She didn't expect too much from it but her video ended up going viral with over 46 million views. Holley made a few other videos and became a spokesperson for metastatic awareness and research. Holley passed away in January, 2016, just a year after making her video. Below is the video and also an interview done after the video.