AUSTIN, Texas — October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and while there is a lot of focus on screenings and survivors, there is not always as much focus on those with metastatic breast cancer.
According to the group METAviver, 5% of women who have breast cancer will be told they are Stage 4, or metastatic, at their original diagnosis. But about 30% of women with breast cancer will end up having their cancer spread and become metastatic.
Cynthia Burton of Austin found out she had De Novo metastatic breast cancer when she was 62, just about two and a half years ago. The cancer had spread to her bones and eventually spread to other parts of her body, including her stomach lining.
Sadly, just this week, she found out it had spread to her brain. Burton is currently doing chemotherapy and will try medical trials if needed to try to extend her life.
Despite her current challenges, she is trying to spread awareness and help others know about available resources. She actually helped to make this Thursday, Oct. 13, "Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day" in Austin.
She said that, many times, Breast Cancer Awareness Month focuses on the color pink, hope and beating cancer. She said that hope and the fighting spirit are very important for many people, but that it can be hard to be surrounded by when people who are metastatic know they will eventually die from the disease.
“A friend of mine put it beautifully this morning,” Burton said. “She said, ‘Cancer has no intent, so it's not trying to kill you.' It's just a thing that's out there and it happens to have that effect. So, it's hard to fight it. And for me, it's hard for me to fight something in my own body. I want to be at peace, keep my body calm and avoid stress or adrenaline.”
She said one thing that has helped her tremendously in her cancer journey is The IV League support group for women with metastatic breast cancer that she is a part of through the Breast Cancer Resource Center.
"When I got bad news this week, they're two of the people that I talked to first,” said Burton of some of her group members. “I was mad and angry, and they went with it and got me through an initial conversation and just were with me where I had to be. So, I appreciated that so much."
This Thursday, she and members of some of her group will be out in Austin enjoying the two buildings that will be lit up in teal for "Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day." Those two buildings are The Grove, at 4100 Bull Creek Road, and Block 185, at 601 W. Second Street. These are two of more than 200 landmarks across all 50 states, as well as Canada and Ireland, that will light up in the Metastatic Breast Cancer (MBC) awareness colors of teal, green and pink, as part of the #LightUpMBC campaign.
The campaign stated that while pink has long been synonymous with early-stage breast cancer awareness, pink alone does not resonate with the advanced stage MBC community. Designed and trademarked by METAvivor, the tri-color ribbon of teal, green and pink symbolizes hope, immortality, healing and spirituality.
Burton said she wants to spend the remainder of her life adventuring and enjoying life, but she also wants to make a difference and help others who are in her situation or may end up in her situation.
“If what I do now plants a seed that helps someone, in not only the metastatic world but early-stage breast cancer women – there's a 30% chance they'll become Stage 4,” Burton said. “So, it's helping them, even though they may not realize it and we may not focus on it.”
She said in addition to Austin Mayor Steve Adler signing a proclamation for the day, Gov. Greg Abbott signed one on the state-level as well.
If you want to donate to help donate to metastatic breast cancer research, you can click here. The California Pizza Kitchen at The Domain will also be donating 20% of it proceeds to metastatic breast cancer research this Thursday, Oct. 13, if you mention “METAvivor Research and Support” or use the code BACK20% at checkout.
Watch KVUE's full interview with Burton below:
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