Going through cancer the first time around, the one thing I always thought I wanted to get involved with was volunteering in some capacity towards raising breast cancer awareness. Going on to get married and have a kid convinced me that I had a story of hope to share. Somehow, I kept postponing getting involved. I was scared getting involved with breast cancer awareness campaigns would make the reality of breast cancer too much for me to bear. I finally decided when we made the decision to move to Canada that once I settled in, I will look into getting more active as I felt my story would encourage a lot of people especially young women going through breast cancer given my age at diagnosis. I never got round to doing this as before I was fully settled in Calgary, I found out the cancer was back.
I made the decision this time around that I won’t leave getting involved on the back-burner like I did the first time around. As part of coming to terms with my diagnosis, I started looking into the support systems available for stage IV breast cancer patients. In doing this, I came across the website METAvivor and what stood out to me on the page was this text “30% of all breast cancer will metastasize, but only 2% of research funding goes to metastatic breast cancer“. I had no idea so little funding goes to finding a cure for breast cancer! So basically, even though no one dies from early stage breast cancer, 98% of research funding goes to early stage cancer. Don’t get me wrong, I believe funding research for early stage cancer is great as early detection is key. However, we need to focus more funding (at least more than 2%) on research aimed specifically at stage 4 cancer. It is shocking to find that in spite of the fact that “every 74 seconds, somewhere in the world, someone dies from breast cancer” (data from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, University of Washington), only 2% is set aside for metastatic breast cancer research!
After empowering myself with more information, I was certain I wanted to work with METAvivor in some capacity. Please take some time to read about the amazing work they are doing but here is a quick summary. Nine years ago, someone got diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. What made her story different from every one else was what she did with the news.
She found out that there was very little support for women living with stage 4 cancer and she proceeded to set-up a support group for such women. In the months to come, she found out that at the time, less than 1% of all research funding focused specifically on stage 4 cancer. She and three other people went on to form METAvivor – a non-profit Organization that dedicates 100% of all money raised to funding metastatic cancer research. Here is an extract from their page on how this works:
“METAVIVOR’S ROLE IN METASTATIC RESEARCH
METAvivor’s research mission is two-fold: to increase awareness about the funding discrepancy that shortchanges metastatic research in the cancer world (see our 30% for 30% campaign), and to directly fund the kind of research that is currently lacking. With the primary goal of extending life and ending death from MBC, METAvivor awards grants for research projects that have the potential to shift MBC from a terminal disease to a chronic condition with a decent quality of life.”
I was inspired by the story of these young women; they found an opportunity to make a difference and they took it.
I reached out to them a couple of months ago with my desire to get involved in what they were doing. A few email exchanges and phone calls later, I am elated that as of tonight, I am officially a METAvivor volunteer! I will be managing a few projects for them and a lot of these projects will be focused on trying to change legislatures and rules governing what percentage of research funding goes to metastatic breast cancer. If we can increase that number from 2% to 30% in a few years, then we would have made a difference, not just for us but for the thousands of men and women that get diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer each year.
I am excited about getting involved and will continue to provide updates on the projects I get involved with – wish me luck!