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National Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day: Why October 13th Matters

MBCN’s President Shirley Mertz reflects on the history behind National Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day and urges advocates to keep sharing their stories. 
As October begins, I think back to 2009 when there was great celebration within the Metastatic Breast Cancer Network and among patients across the United States as they learned that both the Senate and House of Representatives passed resolutions declaring October 13 as National Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day. MBC patients finally would have ONE day of recognition in the month of October!
You can read the resolution here or listen to Representative DeLauro speak in the House about the resolution, or read an account of the nine MBC patients who traveled to Washington D.C. to personally speak to Congressional leaders to pass the resolution on MBCN’s “History of October 13th” page.
Sadly, of the nine patients only I and Judith Christensen are still living.
Why was the passage of the Resolution huge? Before 2009, Breast Cancer Awareness Month was almost exclusively devoted to prevention, screening, and the celebration of those who had survived early stage disease. Metastatic patients felt isolated and excluded from groups that were organized to help those with breast cancer. This feeling of isolation was the spark that resulted in the founding of the Metastatic Breast Cancer Network in 2004–the first organization solely devoted to the needs of patients with MBC.
So have things changed since 2009? I believe the MBC Community has made progress, although more needs to be done. Consider the following:
• Since 2009, new organizations, devoted solely to the needs of MBC patients, have been formed. They speak out, provide information and lobby the government for increased commitment to funding MBC research.
• In 2013, the MBC Alliance was founded. The Alliance is made up of 32 non-profit organizations, 17 individual patients and advocates, and 11 industry members who have committed to “transform and improve the lives of people living with MBC through advancing research, improving knowledge needed by patients and caregivers, and helping the public understand MBC.”
• The largest non-profit breast cancer organization in the U.S., Susan G. Komen, supports several MBC Patient Conferences across the U.S. to help inform, educate, and support patients. See the list of conferences coming up in October.
• Like MBCN, groups and individual patients raise funds to support research focused on MBC.
• An unexpected result of the October 13 Resolution is that MBC patients and organizations in other countries have used that day to bring attention to MBC and the needs of patients and caregivers.
As we begin the month of October 2018, I urge you to use your voice and story to further public awareness, press for more patient information and call for research focused on MBC so that the lives of 154,000 women and men currently living with MBC are not cut short. Here are 31 MBC facts you can share throughout October.
When you and I show courage to speak up, others will find the courage to join us. Let us support each other.