As we continue to look back at past PRP’s we wanted to to share a little about our commitment over the years to sharing the whole breast cancer story. It’s a story my family knows all too well and a story that unfortunately, is not widely known or understood.
Often we are inundated with survivor stories. These stories and experiences are so important and so hopeful! These stories are a necessity. They bring comfort and a sense of understanding to those who need it. We share these stories at PRP too and we will continue to do so. But we don’t hear nearly as much about those who have lost their lives to breast cancer and often nothing about how and why that comes about. Survivors are, thankfully, the majority. My Mom used to be one of those stories. Our family knows the relief and joy that comes with your loved one being told they are cancer free, or in remission. I am so happy for those that only know that breast cancer story. I wish more than anything that was all that I knew.
We are committed to sharing the full breast cancer story even when it’s hard or scary for people to talk about or hear. Even when it hurts or may cause worry and anxiety. We will not become part of the problem in the breast cancer space. We will only be part of the solution. If we don’t include the stories of those living with stage 4 or metastatic breast cancer (MBC) or the stories of those who have died from it, we would not be telling the truth. We wouldn’t be truly educating, and we wouldn’t be truly advocating for those affected by breast cancer. We know it can be hard, but we hope you will hear us out.
The truth is that approximately 30% of women who are diagnosed with early stage breast cancer will go on to develop MBC. The median survival rate for MBC is 2-3 years. There is not enough information widely shared about MBC. When my Mom was given her “cancer free” status after her early stage breast cancer we were not made aware of the risks or symptoms of MBC. We didn’t know what to watch for and were blindsided when her cancer returned as metastatic.
We didn’t know that there are issues; big issues in Canada, when it comes to accessing new treatments for MBC. We didn’t know that only 22% of people with MBC live beyond 5 years. We didn’t know there is a lack of research being done specifically about MBC, compared to the amount of funds raised for breast cancer research. We learned so much in the time that we still had my Mom here with us. We are so grateful for every single second we had with her, but a lot of the precious time we had was spent learning, desperately digging for information, or advocating for her care. If these issues were addressed our time could have been solely focused on her and our time together as a family.
With everything we learned, we know that we have to keep sharing the whole story about breast cancer and we have to keep working on these issues to ensure that real change is made. We hope that you will join us in this work to understand and address the issues and to push for real change in the breast cancer space.
If you are able to join us for our 7th installment of the Pink Ribbon Project we know you will find a space that’s safe and inclusive for all. One that shares the full story but still fosters joy and hope and connection. One that celebrates survivorship and milestones along the way, while still being authentic about the entire spectrum of breast cancer experiences. One that encourages action and empathy and one that is committed to being a true catalyst for change.
~ Carmen Powell