Metastatic Breast Cancer: A Look at the Critical Need for Focused Research

The is an urgent need for research to address the particular needs of patients with advanced breast cancer.Several years ago, a close cousin of mine died from metastatic breast cancer. It was a tragedy that I couldn’t make sense of at the time–and still can’t.

In this post, we’ll take a look at a few of the facts about metastatic breast cancer and some of the critical research questions that need to be answered so we can better meet the very specific treatment needs of patients with advanced breast cancer. Continue reading

Breast Cancer “Awareness”: What is the Message?

How can we get to a more informed level of breast cancer awareness--the kind that will result in needed action to end deaths from the disease?Each year during the month of October we are more than ever bombarded with the pink ribbon. But what really is the purpose of all this “awareness” today–beyond selling pink-ribboned products?

Breast cancer screening through mammography has now become widespread, but misperceptions about the disease are also widespread.

How do we get to a more informed level of awareness–the kind of awareness that may better lead to the steps that need to be taken today to end deaths from this disease?

Continue reading

Breast Cancer: Where Are We After Twenty Years?

How far have we come in the fight against breast cancer?It was in the early 1990’s that I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

It also happened to be around that time that breast cancer advocacy and awareness efforts were starting to gain momentum.

We hear a lot these days about advances in the understanding of cancer biology, and about new experimental therapies.

But I sometimes find myself wondering just how much has been accomplished since the early ’90s. This post takes a look back at how far we’ve actually come in the fight against breast cancer in the past twenty years.

Continue reading

Why Do New Cancer Drugs Cost So Much?

Portrait of an unhappy person sitting on a bench at sunsetCovering the financial costs of care is an increasing problem for cancer patients, and especially for those receiving some of the newer medications which are often extremely highly priced.

More patients are finding that they have to struggle with how they’re going to pay for their medications at the same time as they’re dealing with the physical and emotional challenges of going through treatment. Some are even forced to declare bankruptcy.

Continue reading

Advocating for Innovative Approaches to Ending Breast Cancer

View of U.S. Capitol building on a spring dayLast Tuesday, May 8, was a beautiful spring day in Washington, DC. I spent the day with many other advocates on Capitol Hill visiting our representatives in Congress to ask for their support on two important initiatives in the fight against breast cancer. One initiative is 2015 funding for the innovative Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program. The other is a new initiative that would not involve any increase in research funding, but would leverage exiting resources and technologies to move us more quickly towards the ultimate goal of knowing how to end deaths from breast cancer.

Continue reading

Breast Cancer “Awareness”: What Is The Message?

beach_sunriseOver the past two to three decades, advocacy groups have worked to increase public awareness of breast cancer.

Many of the awareness campaigns have focused on mammography screening for early detection of cancer as the main action step that women should take in response to their general awareness of breast cancer as a health risk.

Presumably in large part as a result of these awareness efforts, more women are now being screened for breast cancer. In a 2011 survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 66% of women over 40 reported having had a mammogram within the past two years.(1)

But is this enough for us to be able to say that the breast cancer advocacy movement has been a “success”?

Continue reading

Breast Cancer: Where Are We After Twenty Years?

on_the_roadI recently came across a copy of a letter I wrote back in 1994, about a year after my breast cancer diagnosis, to members of a congressional committee that was considering the budget for the following year. Here is part of what I had written:

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in June 1993 at age 35, although I was considered to be at low risk for getting the disease…I read with great interest that researchers are finding some promising new leads in their study of this and other types of cancer. Discovery of the causes of and cure for cancer may not be far way, but it all depends on our continued strong commitment to providing appropriate levels of funding for basic research.

The paragraph above still represents essentially where we are today, twenty years later. That is, we continue to hear about promising new leads yet we still know little about the causes of cancer and certainly don’t have a cure. Continue reading