Did you know that approximately 200,000 Americans are diagnosed with breast cancer each year? About 40,000 of them will die from the disease within the year and six to ten percent of these diagnoses are metastatic, or stage 4. While these statistics are decreasing thanks to dedicated research and growing awareness, they still need community support to help fight. This week’s Friday Focus we caught up with Kelly Lange, Secretary/treasurer, Director of Metavivor’s Research and Support to learn more about the research they do for metastatic breast cancer and how we can get involved as a community.
A: METAvivor’s primary mission is to fund research with the goal of ending death from breast cancer. While many people are aware of the risk of breast cancer, few realize that 1 in 3 breast cancer survivors will be re-diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer (MBC), a terminal illness. This can happen many years, even decades, after the primary diagnosis. Once diagnosed with MBC, life expectancy is only about two years. We continue to lose over 40,000 Americans every year to this disease. These numbers haven’t changed in decades, in spite of all the money spent on breast cancer causes.
At METAvivor we conduct a rigorous peer-review process to select the very best research we can find. We award grants each year to research that has the potential to benefit the patient who has already metastasized. 100% of donations to METAvivor go to these research grants. We are a volunteer led organization and we cover our minimal expenses with corporate sponsorships.
METAvivor also operates a peer-to-peer support program in Anne Arundel and surrounding counties, enables patients in other communities to start similar programs and advocates for issues affecting those with metastatic breast cancer.
Q: What is your favorite “moment” (example of how your organization helped)?
A: One of the most rewarding things about volunteering for METAvivor is helping someone who is newly diagnosed. We are never happy to welcome a new member to the group – it means she or he now has a terminal illness. But when you help someone realize there can be peace and even joy on the other side of the diagnosis, it is very rewarding.
Q: What is your biggest challenge?
A: Our biggest challenge is the terminal illness we face. Most of our volunteers who devote many hours to the operation of METAvivor have metastatic breast cancer. As a result, we have frequent turnover as people become more ill and die from the disease. It is very difficult to continue the work as your friends are dying, but we are determined to do whatever we can to fund the research that is our only hope.
Q: Are there any upcoming events?
A: METAvivor supporters are actively hosting fundraising events all over the country. Many are posted on our Facebook page.
Q: How can people get involved with your organization?
A: People interested in volunteering can sign up on our website. People can also help by liking our Facebook page, following us on twitter (@metavivor) and watching and sharing our Youtube videos. Of course, donations and sponsorships are always welcome!