What is mbc?
It doesn't matter how many pink ribbons you wear,
there is no assurance that you won't develop
metastatic breast cancer.
Metastatic breast cancer, also known as mbc, stage IV or Advanced Breast Cancer, is cancer that has spread beyond the breast and lymph nodes under the arm. The most common sites of metastases are the bones, lungs, liver and brain.
No one dies from breast cancer that remains in the breast. The lump itself is not what kills. The spread of cancerous cells to a vital organ is what kills. This is called metastasis.
Metastatic breast cancer can happen to anyone.
We did nothing wrong. Our medical team did nothing wrong. Metastatic breast cancer happens... at any time... regardless of your age, whether you did chemo, radiation, had a mastectomy, had a bilateral mastectomy, ate well, took vitamins, exercised regularly, prayed, had positive thoughts, had negative thoughts, got regular mammograms, did self exams religiously, had a tiny stage 1 primary tumor, or a stage 0 primary tumor, or a stage 3 primary tumor, or never even had primary breast cancer. It doesn't matter.
A diagnosis of mbc means you are on treatment forever... and that is a good thing. We stay on a treatment for as long as it works. When the cancer cell learns to outsmart the treatment drug, the treatment then fails us and we try another treatment. There is always anxiety connected with a new treatment. Will it work? What are the side effects? What happens if this treatment fails me? Will there be a next treatment available?
Since the War on Cancer began in 1973, much has been learned about cancer.. yet... 40,000 of us continue to die yearly from metastatic breast cancer.....AND many are living longer and stronger and defying the odds!
What has been learned is that cancer is a collection of diseases, and some are more aggressive than others.
As science learns what our tumor is positive to (what is feeding it), researchers can set out to develop targeted therapies to stop the progression.
In this section, we offer information to help you make sense of this diagnosis and better cope with living from scan to scan.
Unlocking the Mysteries of Metastasis - From American Cancer Society Expert Voices. A good explanation of the process of cancer cells spreading and growing and what researchers know and don't know about metastasis
Not all breast cancer has a lump - from ABC News on Inflammatory Breast Cancer
Breastfeeding masked Sandra Bishnoi's inflammatory breast cancer symptoms. (Courtesy Shaunak Mukherjee)