Mary E. Costello (a.k.a. “Cos”) was diagnosed with de novo metastatic breast cancer (MBC) in July of 2020. For the first four months, she mistakenly believed she had two years to live. Only after a second opinion did she discover that chemotherapy should have never been her first line of treatment—and that was just for starters. Quickly she learned to question EVERYTHING.
Mary is a Social Worker by education, spirit, and systems-orientation. She is a former senior-level non-profit administrator, mental health counselor and case manager, and high-profile disability advocate turned full-service, independent non-profit consultant. Personally, she is a staunch social justice activist and advocate for all who are oppressed, forgotten, or subject to broken, unresponsive, and inequitable systems—including healthcare. Enter the twist. Mary is now a patient; a peer to those living with MBC. As such, she feels called to speak not only about her own experiences at/since diagnosis, but to also serve as a voice for those uncomfortable with telling their own stories… and for those who no longer can. As a MBC patient advocate, she hopes to provide support and information—and HOPE—to newly-diagnosed folks, influence better policy and research outcomes, participate in identification and resolution of support service gaps (especially for historically marginalized communities), and help healthcare providers increase cultural competency and make “patient-centered” more than a buzzword.
In April of 2022, Mary proudly became a patient advocate with the Johns Hopkins INSPIRE Breast Cancer Research Advocacy Program. Joining AdvancedBreastCancer.net in May of 2022 is her second formal commitment to the MBC community. Within the next 4-6 months, Mary hopes to launch her new podcast, CosEffect; a show about people, politics, and pressing social issues. (“Cos” is pronounced “coz” and the softer pronunciation of “cause.”) Long planned, CosEffect will include a separate series offering technical advice for new non-profit leaders. But then a new idea surfaced. Mary will create a second CosEffect series: “Cancer Aside.” This project is under active, although early, development. Podcasts and web articles may include cancer more generally, but the primary focus is and will always be issues related to MBC.
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