October 1, 2014: Canadian Breast Cancer Network Launches Living Legacy Campaign to Raise Awareness of Metastatic Breast Cancer


  • More than three Canadian women receive their first breast cancer diagnosis of locally advanced or metastatic disease every day (1)
  • Approximately 30 per cent of those initially diagnosed with earlier stages of breast cancer later develop recurrent and/or metastatic disease (2)

Campaign to pave the way for National Metastatic Breast Cancer Day in Canada

Ottawa, ON ̶ October 1, 2014 – The Canadian Breast Cancer Network (CBCN) today announced the launch of the Living Legacy campaign to raise awareness of metastatic breast cancer, which occurs when the cancer has spread to other parts of the body – most commonly, the bones, liver, lungs and brain. (3) Metastatic breast cancer is currently considered an incurable disease that may be controlled through treatment, though survival rates remain low. (4)

A group of Canadian women living with metastatic breast cancer are sharing their Living Legacies and, together with CBCN, raising awareness of this most serious form of the disease. According to recent reports, individuals living with metastatic breast cancer often feel isolated from the greater breast cancer community, and often feel that the breast cancer information currently available to them does not address their unique needs. (5)

“No matter where people are located in Canada, it is important for them to feel supported and connected to a network of people who are facing similar challenges when it comes to understanding their metastatic breast cancer and accessing treatment options,” said Cathy Ammendolea, chair of CBCN. “The Living Legacy campaign recognizes that there is so much more to each and every one of these women’s legacies than the devastating reality of the disease, helping them to replace the feelings of isolation and fear with hope, connection and optimism.”

“When I was told I had metastatic breast cancer, I was terrified. What I knew of breast cancer is that either you are cured, or you die. But this is simply not the world many of us live in,” said Mei-Lin Yee, an attorney and mother who is a member of the Living Legacy Advisory Committee. “I’m determined to share my story with others – to inspire them to live each day to the fullest - so that metastatic disease can’t take away more from us than it already has. Metastatic breast cancer will not be my legacy. My living legacy is my passion for life.”

There are four main types of breast cancer: human epidermal growth factor-2-positive (HER2-positive, or HER2+); HER2-negative (or HER2-); hormone-receptor-positive (HR-positive, or HR+); and basal-like tumours that express neither HER2 nor hormone receptors (triple-negative). (6) An important first step is to determine human HER2 and HR status of the breast tumour cells, so that treatment can be optimized. (7) Advanced HR+ breast cancer is the most common form. Approximately 70 per cent of all invasive breast cancers are HR+ at the time of diagnosis. (8) Researchers are beginning to explore how genetic profiling can help to guide decision about which treatments are most appropriate. Personalized medicine, as it is referred to, works by assessing the genetic make-up of individual tumours and then tailoring the therapy to be more targeted. (9)

“It is important to recognize and emphasize the needs of metastatic breast cancer patients,” said Dr. Stephen Chia, medical oncologist and chair of the Provincial Breast Tumour Group at BC Cancer Agency. “We tend to hear a lot about ‘survivorship’ and finding ‘the cure’, but where metastatic disease is concerned, we really need to personalize treatment based on the tumour molecular characteristics with targeted research and therapies, and most importantly, the increased availability of treatment options, so that the lives of our patients can be prolonged and their quality of life improved or maintained.”

The Living Legacy Parliamentary Reception

To help launch the Living Legacy campaign, CBCN is hosting a reception on Parliament Hill, marking the beginning of Breast Cancer Awareness Month and highlighting Metastatic Breast Cancer Day, which is recognized in many countries around the world on October 13th.

When: Wednesday, October 1, 2014, 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Where: Room 238-S Centre Block, Parliament Hill, Ottawa

Who: 
Judy Foote
, Member of Parliament for Random-Burin-St. George’s
Dr. Stephen Chia, medical oncologist and chair, Provincial Breast Tumour Group, BC Cancer Agency
Cathy Ammendolea, chair of CBCN
The Living Legacy Advisory Committee, composed of women from across Canada living with metastatic breast cancer

The reception will bring more focus to metastatic breast cancer and highlight Bill C-594, or an Act Respecting a Canadian Metastatic Breast Cancer Day. The bill was introduced in April 2014 with the goal to mark October 13th of each year as National Metastatic Breast Cancer Day in Canada.

About the Canadian Breast Cancer Network
The Canadian Breast Cancer Network (CBCN) is Canada's leading survivor-directed, national network of organizations and individuals concerned about breast cancer. CBCN strives to voice the views and concerns of breast cancer survivors and patients through promotion of information sharing, education and advocacy activities. Visit www.cbcn.ca for more information and to become part of the Living Legacy.

The Living Legacy campaign is a collaboration with one of Canada’s leading research-based pharmaceutical companies.

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For more information, or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Niya Chari, Government Relations Manager
Canadian Breast Cancer Network 
613-230-3044
nchari@cbcn.ca

Amanda Federchuk, Consultant
GCI Group
416-486-7231
amanda.federchuk@gcicanada.com

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  1. Canadian Breast Cancer Network. Metastatic Breast Cancer in Canada Report. Available at: /en/mbc_in_canada_2013. Accessed July 26, 2013.
  2. Canadian Breast Cancer Network. Metastatic Breast Cancer in Canada Report. Available at: /en/mbc_in_canada_2013. Accessed July 26, 2013.
  3. Canadian Cancer Society. Metastatic cancer overview. Available at: http://www.cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/cancer-type/metastatic-cancer/metastatic-cancer/?region=on#How_cancer_spreads. Accessed July 26, 2013.
  4. Canadian Breast Cancer Network. Metastatic Breast Cancer in Canada Report. Available at: /en/mbc_in_canada_2013. Accessed July 26, 2013.
  5. Count Us, Know Us, Join Us Advanced Breast Cancer Survey, Harris Interactive, sponsored by Novartis Oncology (2013). Available at: http://www.advancedbreastcancercommunity.org/countus/2013-global-survey.html?country=canada. Accessed July 26, 2013.
  6. New England Journal of Medicine, Burstein, The Distinctive nature of HER2+ Cancers,http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp058197. Accessed August 11, 2014.
  7. Redmond, C¬_BC Hormone Therapy options, pg. 1-6, 2010
  8. Dobrescu, Andrei. Study of Estrogen Receptor and Progesterone Receptor Expression in Breast Ductal Carcinoma In Situ by Immunohistochemical Staining in ER/PgR-Negative Invasive Breast Cancer. May 9, 2011. Available at: http://www.isrn.com/journals/oncology/2011/673790/. Accessed on April 9, 2012.
  9. Canadian Cancer Society http://www.cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/cancer-101/cancer-research/research-trends/personalized-medicine/?region=on. Accessed on August 6, 2014.