METS research

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I'm an advocate of organizations that support cancer patients and research, but my efforts are not enough for patients diagnosed with metastatic cancer.

According to Dian Corneliussen-James (also known as CJ), founder of the nonprofit METAvivor, we aren't doing enough to assist metastatic cancer patients. As CJ states in her blog, "For those who don't know, people who have stage IV (4) cancer have metastatic disease. Ninety percent of metastatic cancer patients die of metastases. One hundred percent of those who die of breast cancer die due to metastatic breast cancer."

The general public doesn't even know what metastatic cancer (METS) is, and, sadly, this is evidenced by the percentage of funds allocated to metastatic research -- less than 3 percent.

This statistic is precisely why metastatic patients need the voice of someone like Angelina Jolie. Ms. Jolie lost both her mother and recently her aunt to cancers (ovarian and breast cancer, respectively). She decided to undergo a preventative double mastectomy after testing positive for a BRCA gene mutation. Who better to bring awareness and funds to METS?

My sister, only 36, is a METAvivor -- a stage IV METS patient who fights for survival every day. People will ask her when her treatment will end or if she's in remission. As CJ states, "Say you're stage IV and they ask when will treatment end. The answer: When I die."

I'm doing what I can to extend my sister's life -- for her to see more birthdays as we wait for a "cure." Progress will be slow until more funding goes toward METS research, and I fear that without someone like Ms. Jolie to speak up for METS patients, the support needed to truly save lives will not be procured. If one-third of cancer patients die annually and 90 percent of these patients have metastases, why doesn't METS research receive 30 percent of the funds?

HALLIE LEACH
Mt. Lebanon


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