Willow Breast Cancer Support Canada Announces Canada's First Metastatic
Breast Cancer Awareness Day

Survivor Carol Ann Cole Tells Canadians that 'Hope Changes'

TORONTO, Oct. 5 /CNW/ - Thousands of Canadian women with metastatic breast cancer and their loved ones are marking the first Canadian Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day on October 13, urging Canadians to acknowledge them and delivering the message that "hope changes."

"Within the breast cancer community, there are still a large number of women living with metastatic disease who find it challenging to connect with others who share their diagnosis," said Willow Breast Cancer Support Canada Executive Director Virginia Yule. "Despite high levels of recognition of the importance of research for a cure for breast cancer, metastatic breast cancer has 'flown under the radar' because nobody wants to talk about breast cancer spreading and how this changes the prognosis."

This year, an estimated 22,700 women in Canada will be diagnosed with breast cancer and an estimated 5,400 women will die from breast cancer in Canada(1). Ten per cent of women who receive a diagnosis of breast cancer will develop metastatic disease(2), and approximately 30 per cent of women who are first diagnosed with earlier stages of breast cancer will go on to develop metastatic disease(3), which means their cancer has spread to a different site of the body.

Willow Breast Cancer Support Canada is calling for a national Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day to shed light on this type of breast cancer, and recognize the needs, as well as the strength and hope that women with this diagnosis represent. This October, Willow is asking Canadians to designate October 13, 2009 as Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day and they are launching a new metastatic breast cancer portal at beacon.willow.org where women with a metastatic diagnosis can go to connect with each other and be counted.

One in two women with metastatic breast cancer believes the disease gets too little public attention(4), which is why the purpose of this day is to change the way metastatic breast cancer is viewed by the breast cancer community and the public at large. This initiative is grounded on the belief that those living with metastatic breast cancer need to be recognized and included.

A recent report by global cancer advocates says that despite the prevalence of the disease, "women with metastatic breast cancer often report feelings of isolation from the broader breast cancer community, whose public focus and advocacy efforts are largely directed toward early stage disease"(5).

"Many people don't want to talk about a type of cancer that is more likely to kill you. We focus on research, we focus on a cure, which is important, but so are the people for whom the cure will come too late, and we need to support them now," says breast cancer survivor, author and Order of Canada member Carol Ann Cole. "When my own breast cancer returned after 16 years of remission, it really changed my perspective in life, even more so than my original diagnosis. I realized that hope changes."

In 1992, Carol Ann and her mother Mary were diagnosed with breast cancer within days of each other. Deciding there was more to life than climbing the corporate ladder, Carol Ann walked away from a high-powered executive position to achieve a more balanced life. She is releasing her third book, If I Knew Then What I Know Now, this month.

"Women with metastatic breast cancer are living longer with a better quality of life because of new treatments, better control of side effects and more community support. They have hope for the future," says Virginia Yule. "We want to bring together women living with metastatic breast cancer, and those, like Carol Ann, who understand and support them, in our new social networking community at http://beacon.willow.org/. Here they can get the support they need no matter where they are in Canada, any time of day or night."

Willow's new metastatic breast cancer site will launch with an interactive chat session with Carol Ann Cole on October 13 in celebration of the first Canadian Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day. Women with metastatic breast cancer and those who support them will be able to chat live with Carol Ann and share their stories, hopes and dreams. Today, women with metastatic breast cancer and their supporters can log onto http://beacon.willow.org/ today to join the community and be part of the chat session on October 13.

This campaign is endorsed by the Canadian Breast Cancer Network.

About Metastatic Breast Cancer

Metastatic breast cancer, stage IV, or advanced breast cancer, occurs when breast cancer cells travel from the original site of the cancer through the lymph and blood systems to other parts of the body. When breast cancer cells leave the breast, they often migrate to the bones, the lungs, the liver and to the brain. There is no set pattern for where the cancer cells will spread.

About Carol Ann Cole

Carol Ann Cole is a Member of the Order of Canada. She has received numerous additional awards including the Golden Jubilee Medal; the elite Maclean's Honor Role; the Terry Fox Citation of Honor; the YWCA Women's Recognition Award; the Canadian Auto Workers Woman of the Year; Jewish Women International Woman of the Year and was named as one of L'Oreal's outstanding Canadians in celebration of International Women's Day. She is profiled in 'Canadian Who's Who' and in the 2005 edition of '1000 Great Women of the 21st Century' published by the American Biographical Institute in Raleigh North Carolina.

Carol Ann is the founder of the Comfort Heart Initiative which has raised over a million dollars for cancer research.

About Willow

Willow Breast Cancer Support Canada provides free, survivor-driven support and information to anyone affected by breast cancer. Through targeted information kits addressing the unique needs and concerns surrounding each individual's diagnosis to a national program which trains survivors to start and sustain support groups within their own community, Willow is dedicated to serving all members of the breast cancer community. From the individual diagnosed, to their family and caregivers, Willow makes sure no Canadian faces breast cancer alone.

    (1) Canadian Cancer Society /National Cancer Institute of Canada.
        Canadian Cancer Statistics 2009, Toronto, Canada, 2009.
    (2) Bernard-Marty C. Facts and Controversies in Systemic Treatment of
        Metastatic Breast Cancer. The Oncologist. 2004;9:617-632
    (3) O'Shaughnessy J. Extending Survival with Chemotherapy in Metastatic
        Breast Cancer. The Oncologist. 2005;10(suppl3):20-29
    (4) BRIDGE Metastatic Breast Cancer Patient Survey, Harris Interactive,
        sponsored by Pfizer (2009)
    (5) Consensus Report by Global Cancer Advocates urges stakeholders to
        Take Action on Behalf of Women Living with Metastatic Breast Cancer.
        Canadian Breast Cancer Network. Network News, Summer 2009


For further information: For further information: Morgan Cates, Fleishman-Hillard, (416) 645-8201, morgan.cates@fleishman.ca

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