With Education and Persistence Community Support for Forever Fighters Broadens

Shirley Mertz copyBreast cancer is a disease that must not be fought alone.  To achieve good outcomes, patients require a knowledgeable, caring doctor; access to quality, affordable treatments; and a support system of family, friends and community breast cancer organizations to help deal with the twists and turns of this complicated disease. 

As an early stage breast cancer patient in 1991, I had access to all three of these important components.

Then, in 2003, when I received a metastatic breast cancer diagnosis, I found that people did not understand what such a diagnosis meant:

… that my disease was now incurable,

… That I would forever be in treatment,

… and that facing the disease would be incredibly difficult. 

For me, finding information and support from most breast cancer organizations was impossible because their focus was on prevention, early stage disease, and supporting those who were “survivors.” 

As an advocate for others living with metastatic breast cancer, I realized that broadening community support to those of us living with advanced disease would take a lot of education and persistence.

Thanks to efforts of many metastatic breast cancer patients who felt like I did, the community environment has been changing. Some community breast cancer organizations have listened and broadened their mission to support those living with metastatic breast cancer.

Evidence of this change is Susan G. Komen Philadelphia’s Inaugural Metastatic Breast Cancer Symposium called “Joining Forces With Every Forever Fighter,” that will take place on Saturday, September 17 from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Loews Philadelphia Hotel, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  The free event is planned and sponsored by Komen Philadelphia and is open to men and women living with metastatic breast cancer as well as their families and other members of their support network.

Kudos to Komen Philadelphia!  For the past year, the organization has engaged in a powerful “listening, learning and discovery” initiative with patients.  As an active patient advocate in the metastatic breast cancer community, I am thrilled that this symposium represents a new chapter in Komen Philadelphia’s history.  The program will offer valuable information, opportunities to connect with other patients, and a chance to provide input that will help shape Komen Philadelphia’s metastatic breast cancer mission going forward.

I will be at the September 17th Komen Philadelphia Metastatic Breast Cancer Symposium event and I hope you will be too. 

Let’s connect!

Shirley Mertz
Metastatic Breast Cancer Network

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