Metastatic breast cancer, or advanced breast cancer, is cancer that has spread from the breast to the lymph nodes or other organs, including bone, brain, lungs, and liver. Most women with this diagnosis have already completed treatment for stage I, II, or III breast cancer. Unlike other forms of cancer, metastatic breast cancer is chronic — men and women with this diagnosis will live with it for the rest of their lives. While in the past, treatment options were few, recent advances in modern medicine have unearthed new therapies that extend the lifespan and improve the quality of life of the patient. These days, doctors focus not only on helping patients battle the disease, but also living with it long term.
When patients first hear a diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer, they often feel overwhelmed and afraid. Questions emerge, like, “Why is this happening to me?” ”Can I afford treatment?” “Am I going to die?” “Will my family be okay?” All of these questions are natural responses to the diagnosis. Every patient deals with a metastatic breast cancer diagnosis in his or her own way. These are just a few things the AiRS Foundation has found to be helpful to those diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer.
Seek relational support.
There is a plethora of support groups for patients with early stage breast cancer, but it’s harder to find support groups for patients with metastatic cancer. As a result, patients with the advanced disease feel isolated in their diagnosis. There are a number of resources that are specifically designed for patients with metastatic breast cancer. These include Metastatic Breast Cancer Network, Living Beyond Breast Cancer, AdvancedBC.org, and Advanced Breast Cancer Community, among others. Patients may also want to reach…