October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month, and today (October 13th) is National Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day. There are about 175,000 women and a few men currently living with metastatic breast cancer (MBC) in the United States today. Unfortunately there is no cure for the disease. Yesterday, I was joined by an inspirational woman by the name of Joan Mancuso who has been living with metastatic breast cancer since 2007. She joined me for an interview to discuss the disease, give us the details on National Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day, how AstraZeneca is bringing more awareness to MBC at Times Square in New York City today, and how we can all participate no matter where we live.
Candace Rose: What is metastatic breast cancer and how common is it?
Joan Mancuso: “Metastatic breast cancer happens when breast cancer cells spread outside the breast to other parts of the body. That will include the lung, the liver, the skin, the brain and often times the bones, as well as some other less common sites.
There are about 175,000 women in the United States living with metastatic breast cancer and that also includes a few men because men also get breast cancer.”
Candace Rose: What are some of the biggest metastatic breast cancer myths?
Joan Mancuso: “Well, one of the myths is that metastatic breast cancer is curable, but it’s not. It’s stage 4 breast cancer and at that point the breast cancer is no longer curable and often times people think that it is a more aggressive form of early stage breast cancer. In actuality about 25% of cases of women diagnosed with early stage breast cancer will go on to develop metastatic breast cancer.”
Candace Rose: Can you tell us about the Beyond Pink campaign and how it can help people living with MBC?
Joan Mancuso: “Yes, AstraZeneca has started the campaign Beyond Pink sharing our metastatic breast cancer stories. October 13th (today) is National Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day and AstraZeneca is having a rally, they’re kicking off the campaign in Times Square in front of the studios of Good Morning America. During the rally they will be streaming photos on the billboard in Times Square.
They’ve also developed a website: LifeBeyondPink.com which is an excellent resource for metastatic breast cancer survivors. It has a lot of very good information, it’s very well organized and very easy to navigate. Also, to take a part in the campaign, if women go to the website, there are skins on the website that we can use to post to our social media photo. If we go to Facebook.com/MyMBCStory, we can write about our own personal journey with metastatic breast cancer, as well as post photos. If you use hashtag #MBCStrength, AstraZeneca will collect those photos and use them for next year to stream on the billboard during National Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day.”
Joan Mancuso was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in 2007. She is a volunteer for the organization, SHARE, which is located in New York City and offers educational and support programs for breast and ovarian cancer survivors and their caregivers. As a volunteer, Joan facilitates a national weekly telephone support group for metastatic survivors, is a helpline volunteer, and contributes to the organization’s Mets Matters newsletter. She is a member of the National Breast Cancer Coalition (NBCC), the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), and a consumer reviewer for the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program (BCRP) – where she partners with scientists to review grant proposals. Joan was a special reports editor for a financial news publication in New York City before being diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer diagnosis.