Giant, unseen ribbon casts shadow on adult female with a somber expression, awareness month

The Metamorphosis Of October

Breast Cancer Awareness month doesn't hold the same meaning for everyone, and that's OK. To some people, it's a time to celebrate they survived treatment & came out the other side. Other people find October very triggering. It can feel like a bright pink reminder that your life will never be the same again. Regardless of what feelings are held for October, there is no denying that there's a shift happening. A long-overdue shift.

MBC medications

10 yrs ago there were no ads for MBC medications. Now they are regularly seen on TV & social media sites. The ads can be a trigger for some. I’m guilty of yelling at the TV when I see a pharma ad for Ibrance. “Talk to Julie when she has the Ibrance poops!”

Another big change is the restructuring of Susan G Komen and their commitment to allocating more money not just to research but to metastatic research. They are slowly shedding the pariah image the MBC community saw in Komen. However, that wouldn’t have happened if not for advocates working with Komen on many issues. Advocates like Kelly Shanahan, Julia Maués, and Tori Geib to name a few. Their efforts will no doubt enable people to live longer with new medications, targeted therapies & closing the gap with disparities.

Men with advanced breast cancer

Let's not forget that men are now, finally, part of the breast cancer conversation. Seeing morning shows like GMA do a piece on men with breast cancer is very gratifying. They need just as much attention as women get and rightfully so. Breast cancer in men is not always caught early. They don't get regular mammograms. Doctors don't always see the signs in men; when they do, it's most often after it's become advanced or metastatic.

My feelings about October have changed and evolved over the past 8 yrs. I used to be resentful that those of us living with metastatic breast cancer were the “dirty little secret” of the whole marketing machine of the pink ribbon. Let's be honest, who is NOT aware of breast cancer? The awareness tank is overflowing.

Pink ribbons

Now years later, I've come to terms with knowing the pink ribbons aren't going anywhere and there will always be someone trying to capitalize on this disease. Those facts now pale in comparison to how the needle is being moved. Are we all the way there? No, but meaningful change doesn't happen overnight. One thing I'm sure of, today, people living with MBC are being heard in ways that matter.

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