Even with all the awareness, early detection efforts and pink campaigns, over 40,000 of us with Stage IV die every year. Most breast cancer research dollars goes into awareness, detection and initial treatments but if we truly wish to render this disease chronic instead of a death sentence we need to have more monies targeted to metastatic research and drugs and treatments to keep Stage IV patients alive.
Let's have our voices heard by requesting more funding for metastatic breast cancer from the National Cancer Institute, the largest breast cancer research funding source in the country. PRESS the Take Action button (above) to generate a prewritten email to their Center for Research Strategy. Then SEND it.
Our mothers, sisters, wives, daughters and granddaughters are counting on you to help conquer this disease.
My story began in January of 2012 when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was a day I’ll never forget – the January chill felt just a bit cooler. I then underwent the expected lumpectomy surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. For nine months of my life, I endured sickness, nausea and fought not for survival – for the gravitas of the situation hadn’t quite become real – but for just a normal day, a day without sickness, anxiety and fear. I endured.
Almost two years after my last radiation treatment I received a call I had been subconsciously dreading, a call I’d hoped I’d never ever get.
“Metastatic breast cancer is incurable,” was the only thing I remember from that day.
The breast cancer had metastasized, spread to the bones in my hip. Now the real fight had begun. I had a terminal diagnosis. Terminal.
A terminal cancer diagnosis such as metastatic breast cancer (MBC) is emotionally challenging, but is also physically draining. So I decided to focus my days doing something that I loved. I am swimming across as many lakes as possible bringing awareness and funding to metastatic breast cancer—a poorly funded and all but forgotten branch of a deadly disease.
The University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center breast cancer research group is led by Dr. Ruth O’Regan, division head of hematology and oncology at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.
O’Regan was the medical director at Glenn Family Breast Center of Emory University, director of the Breast Cancer Translational Research Program at the Winship Cancer Institute, and chief of hematology and medical oncology at the Georgia Cancer Center for Excellence at Grady Memorial Hospital.
At the University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center she now leads a breast cancer team of over 71 researchers including a highly active research program focused on identifying mechanisms of resistance to breast-cancer therapies and development of new therapies.
The More For Stage IV Fund is overseen by Dr. O’Regan and her colleagues, Dr. Mark Burkard and Dr. Kari Wisinski.
Dr. Burkard and Dr. Wisinski are both breast cancer medical oncologists who are heading new precision medicine initiatives at the UW. Dr. Wisinski leads one arm of the national MATCH trial and Dr. Burkard is a co-lead of UWCCC’s Precision Medicine Molecular Tumor Board. In both MATCH and the PMMTB, the idea is that cancer may be better treated by identifying mutations, rather than classifying cancer by its origin (i.e. breast).
In addition, Dr. Burkard runs a research lab where he studies how chromosomal instability (when cancer cells make extra copies of portions of their DNA) leads to more aggressive and often metastatic forms of cancer.
What does 7777+ Days mean? When I asked my oncologist how long was the longest living metastatic breast cancer patient he had seen, his answer was 20 years. I told him I would beat that by one. 7777 equals a few more than those 21 years I will be hanging around to write this blog, swim lakes and love life. CLICK here to start reading.
Rob here from the Wisconsin Institutes for Medical Research. Mary and I met with Drs. O'Regan, Burkard and Lang and are pleased to announce our support of Dr. Lang's research of biomarkers of metastatic breast cancer circulating tumor cells.
This research will help predict the benefit of targeted therapies. CLICK here to learn more.