(BPT) – This October, there will be lots of pink ribbons, shirts, and pins all across the United States supporting early breast cancer survivors. But, it is also important to acknowledge the approximately 151,000 U.S. women currently living with metastatic breast cancer (MBC), the most advanced stage of the disease. These women can have a very different experience than those diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer, as this diagnosis often raises more questions than answers, due to the lack of MBC-specific information available.
Seven months ago, Pam Pingeton began her MBC journey. “I was in utter shock,” she recalls after receiving the news that her breast cancer had metastasized, or spread, to other areas of the body five years after her diagnosis of early-stage breast cancer. “I was in the best shape of my life and felt on top of the world, so I was floored.”
Following her diagnosis, Pingeton sought to learn as much as she could about the disease. “I didn’t know what metastatic breast cancer meant. I had to educate myself,” Pingeton says. “I learned as much as I could by researching different websites, but found that much of the information focused on early breast cancer and didn’t apply to me.”
To help educate women living with MBC, in October 2015, AstraZeneca launched the Beyond Pink: Sharing Our Metastatic Breast Cancer Story educational campaign. Beyond Pink was created specifically for MBC patients and their loved ones to provide tools and information for their unique journey. This year, the Beyond Pink campaign is extending its reach by bringing experience centers to cities across the U.S. to help inform the general public about MBC and empower patients to drive their own journey through educational videos and photo-sharing opportunities.
“This campaign is critical in order to educate the public. Before reading the educational materials I didn’t fully understand MBC, nor did I know that approximately 30 percent of women with early breast cancer will eventually have their breast cancer return as a metastatic disease at some point in their lives,” Pingeton says.
Pingeton’s best piece of advice for those living with MBC is, “Live for the moment and don’t worry about the what-ifs. Live as normally as possible. Face the challenges/obstacles as they come but don’t obsess about what might happen.”