October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month – a time where thousands of organisations around the world reflect on the importance of reducing the incidence of breast cancer and fighting for a cure for those who have been touched by this disease. As we focus on the importance of survivorship and cure, many of those people living with metastatic breast cancer tell us that their voices can feel lost within this messaging.
On October 13, BCNA will acknowledge Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day in order to shine a spotlight on the importance of improving and extending the lives of women and men living with metastatic breast cancer.
Metastatic breast cancer (also known as stage IV, advanced or secondary breast cancer) is breast cancer that has spread beyond the breast to other organs in the body, such as the bones, lungs, liver or brain. Whilst currently considered incurable, advances in treatment and care mean some people are able to live with metastatic breast cancer for many years.
Director, Policy and Advocacy at BCNA, Danielle Spence, said that while outcomes have vastly improved for Australians with metastatic breast cancer over the past decade, more needs to be done to raise awareness and advocate for better treatment and care.
‘BCNA’s mission is to support all Australians affected by breast cancer, regardless of where they are in their journey. Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day is one way we can send a message to Australians living with metastatic breast cancer that they’re not alone – we hear and support them, and will continue to advocate for better treatment and care on their behalf,’ Danielle said.
Improving access to new and innovative cancer drugs that can improve outcomes for Australians affected by metastatic breast cancer is a major advocacy priority for BCNA.
The organisation has been lobbying for the past year for the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) listing of a new class of drugs called CDK inhibitors. These drugs have been shown to increase progression-free survival and improve quality of life for women with metastatic breast cancer. Despite being available in many countries around the world they are not yet available on the PBS, meaning they are out of reach for the majority of Australians who may need them.
BCNA will continue to lobby around the importance of this new class of drugs to ensure they can be added to the PBS as quickly as possible. In addition to our advocacy efforts, BCNA will continue to hold metastatic information forums and develop new resources to support, inform and connect Australians affected by metastatic breast cancer.
Danielle said that past metastatic breast cancer forums have been well attended – some women travel up to 800 kilometres just to meet others who are in a similar situation.
‘Metastatic breast cancer is a tough disease, requiring great courage and resilience from those who live with it. Yet their stories are still not often heard – they have to get together and talk to each other just to hear their disease acknowledged,’ she said.
If you have been diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer BCNA’s revised Hope & Hurdles kit may help you. It has been developed through extensive consultation with people living with metastatic breast cancer, and those who treat and care for them. You can order or download the kit for free from our Hope & Hurdles page.
You can also connect with others in a similar situation on our private Metastatic breast cancer online network group.