Thursday, March 26, 2009

Busting the Myths

In an article on the MAMM website, Shana Aborn writes about the Metastatic Breast Cancer Network: What We Need Now. Below is an excerpt from her article, busting some of the myths associated with metastatic breast cancer.

Busting the Myths

There are still a lot of misconceptions about metastatic (stage IV) breast cancer, according to Ellen Moskowitz. Here’s what she has to say:

Myth: Being diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer means you have just a few months to live.
Everyone is different, and no one is a statistic. While it’s true that metastatic disease is incurable, new treatments are allowing us to live longer than the two to three years once thought the norm.

Myth: If you fight hard enough, you can beat this.
We’ll never stop hoping and working for a cure, but the fact is that metastatic breast cancer can’t be “beaten”—fight or no fight.

Myth: If you stay strong and positive, your cancer won’t spread.
A positive attitude is a great thing to have, but it’s not a miracle drug. Telling us to be upbeat all the time also makes us feel that it’s not okay to be angry, depressed or afraid.

Myth: I had a mastectomy, so I’m safe.
It is estimated that 6 to 10 percent of patients are metastatic at their first diagnosis. The rest of us have already been treated for early-stage cancer, but surgery, chemotherapy and radiation didn’t stop the disease from returning and spreading to other areas of our bodies.

Myth: You look too good to be that sick!
Not everyone with metastatic disease looks sick. The treatments we get are usually less aggressive than the first-line therapies used on early-stage cancer, so the side effects may not be as harsh. But even when we look fine on the outside, we may still be exhausted, in pain and emotionally fragile.

Myth: You either beat breast cancer or you die from it.
We’re living with breast cancer, we’re very much here, and we want to be recognized.

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