A Little Bit About Stage IV Cancer
I’ve had the honor and privilege to meet many fierce women who advocate on behalf of those struck by Stage IV metastatic breast cancer. If you’re fortunate enough to not be in or around this wonderful world of cancer, you may not even know about what Stages or Grades mean.
When it comes to cancer, your tumor and thus, your diagnosis is defined by the Stage or Grade. Basically, it defines EVERYTHING: whether you have cancer, or it’s benign; how serious your case is; what treatment options are available or on the flip-side, what treatment options aren’t available; etc. Grade IV or Stage IV is the highest, and unfortunately the worst type. Personally, both my brain tumors were Grade III, so that ain’t so good either!
A Little Bit About Stage IV Breast Cancer
Before I get into the piece I shared here by a fellow writer “living with cancer”, I want to briefly discuss a few things. The first is breast cancer.
People tend to believe that breast cancer is “curable” (I have a serious issue with the words “cure”/“curable” and cancer, but that’s me). Well, Stage IV metastatic breast cancer, which both men and women can get, is NOT. In fact, it is considered terminal. There is literally only one organization in the U.S. that exclusively funds Stage IV metastatic breast cancer (MBC) research. That is METAvivor. www.metavivor.org.
I have several friends who advocate for METAvivor so I wanted to give a shoutout to this fantastic organization.
A Little Bit About Cancer Funding
I don’t like statistics. I believe I am a person and not a number. Yet, when it comes to Stage IV or Grade IV cancers, the numbers are unfortunately grim. We all know breast cancer is hugely funded, yet only 2-3% of that funding goes to Stage IV research!! Nevertheless, approximately 40,000 people pass from Stage IV breast cancer a year.
In much the same way, the survival rates for brain cancer are extremely grim. When you look at all cancer types, brain cancer is one of the most underfunded, if not THE MOST underfunded cancer type. Yet, approximately 70,000 people pass from brain cancer a year. It is also now the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in children. See more information at the National Brain Tumor Society: www.braintumor.org
So if you’re reading this and wondering, “Why isn’t there more funding for these cancers?” Good question. However, the answer is just as grim as the statistics.
It really all comes down to Big Pharma and profits.
- The rarer the cancer type, the less people who are or will be affected by it
- The higher the mortality rate, the higher the likelihood a person will die from that cancer type
- So less people, who are more likely to die = less profits for the pharmaceutical companies
This is a very sensitive subject for me. I want to scream from the rooftops:
Fund rare cancer research because my life and every person’s life who suffers from a rare cancer matters! We are worth investing into research and better treatment options!
“Cancer: When Hope Is All You Have” by Doug Sparling
Doug’s initial diagnosis was Stage IV metastatic prostate cancer. His cancer was advanced and aggressive, but not considered terminal.
Now, Doug does not embrace the “warrior” “survivor” or “fighter” terminology. It’s a hot topic amongst cancer patients and I agree with him that it’s 100% personal. He prefers to simply say:
I’m “living with cancer,” because that’s exactly what I’m doing.
Regardless of how we choose to define ourselves, importantly Doug fully embraces the idea of “hope”.
I’ve written and spoken a lot about hope myself. Please read his piece because no matter what challenges in life you face, there is always hope!
Thank you, Doug, for sharing your story and inspiring us to remain hopeful.
You can read more of Doug’s work at The Mighty www.themighty.com & his own blog https://whenhopeisallyouhave.home.blog/2020/07/07/when-hope-is-all-you-have/
Follow him on Twitter @LifeontheBigC