It's official. The majority of women in the US with metastatic breast cancer feel isolated from the "early-stage" breast cancer community. At least, that's one of the results of an international study done by the Count Us, Know Us, Join Us campaign of advancedbreastcancercommunity.org (SHARE is a partner on the site). This means that many women with this disease -- the study puts the number at 70% -- are facing it without the vital support of the wider breast cancer community.
Why do they feel isolated? Because living with advanced breast cancer is a unique experience, different from early-stage breast cancer. And the majority of attention paid to breast cancer goes to the early stages. When their needs are not being addressed, women with advanced breast cancer feel left out.
But SHARE and advancedbreastcancer.org, as well as the Count Us, Know Us, Join Us campaign and the other participating organizations know how important it is for women with advanced breast cancer to have a community that supports their unique needs. That's the reason the survey was conducted, and the reason that the Count Us, Know Us, Join Us campaign exists -- to gather an online community of people affected by the disease (go to the Count Us, Know Us, Join Us site to be counted).
It's also the reason SHARE provides services specifically designed for women with advanced breast cancer, including support groups, educational programs, and arguably the best type of community event of all -- a community celebration. Our next dinner for women with metastatic disease, compliments of SHARE, will be held in NYC at Trinity Restaurant on Monday, June 24 at 5:30 PM. Please join us, and bring a family member or friend (RSVP info here).
Community is so important -- it gives us access to resources and helps us realize we're not alone. It makes us feel a part of something larger than ourselves. It provides us with friends and allies. Women with metastatic breast cancer need and deserve a community. SHARE, advancedbreastcancercommunity.org and the other advocacy organizations behind it are dedicated to building that community. Join us today!
Christine is the Breast Cancer Program Director at SHARE.