“Save The Ta-tas!”
“Save Second Base!”
“Feel Your Lumps, Save Your Bumps!”
“Big or Small, Save Them All!”
These slogans can be found on numerous products from t-shirts and hats to bracelets and bags. In fact, I have a “Save Second Base” bracelet that was given to me a couple years ago by another breast cancer survivor. I use to think these slogans were great. They got people thinking about the breast cancer movement, and maybe even provoked someone to actually complete a self-exam of their own chest.
My views on these slogans have changed slightly. I still get a kick out of seeing the creativity of the slogans, the design of the shirts, and the smile it brings to others as they read it. I still believe that if it can provoke another to examine themselves, then it’s a win-win situation. However, now I take a look at these and I see something completely different. I see not a need to save the breasts, but the need to save a life. That’s right! It’s the life we are trying to save, not the breast.
Did you know that there are an estimated 155,000 Americans that live with metastatic breast cancer every day? A person does not die from breast cancer, but they die when that cancer spreads to other parts of their body. There are about 40,000 deaths a year due to metastatic breast cancer. You see, with these statistics, it’s not the breasts we really want to save. It’s those diagnosed with metastatic cancer we want to save.
If we look at statistics, we’ll find that 20-30% of people diagnosed with an early stage breast cancer will be diagnosed later as having metastatic cancer. Even if they’ve been “cured” after five years, cancer can come back several years later. Catching your breast cancer at an early stage and taking chemotherapy, radiation, and hormonal drugs does not necessarily mean you will never have cancer again. With current treatments though, patients can live with metastatic cancer for numerous years.
With the stats above, and the slogans mentioned at the beginning, you will see why my view has altered just slightly. Approximately 5% of the research dollars for breast cancer is spent on metastatic breast cancer even though it is the metastasis of cancer that becomes deadly. I’m all for saving a breast, but my main mission is to save that life.
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