(BPT) - When Ginny Knackmuhs beat early-stage breast cancer and had routine checkups during the years that followed, she thought the disease was behind her. But in 2009, she was shocked to receive another diagnosis of breast cancer. This time it was metastatic, the most advanced kind.
'I went through a lot of the normal stages that people experience,' says Knackmuhs. 'You're angry. You're guilty. You're trying to figure out why this happened to you. I was in denial a long time.' During that time, Knackmuhs had difficulty finding resources that addressed advanced breast cancer.
To raise awareness of metastatic breast cancer (MBC) and support patients like Knackmuhs, MedImmune Specialty Care Division of AstraZeneca has launched the My+Story online resource center at www.mymbcstory.com, which houses tools and information tailored for women living with advanced breast cancer. The site also contains links to patient support groups that have specific programs for patients with MBC: Living Beyond Breast Cancer (LBBC) and Metastatic Breast Cancer Network (MBCN).
More than 10,000 community members visited the site in the first month after launch, some creating personalized flower badges and sharing content with their social media community to help raise awareness. Women with metastatic breast cancer and those who are directly inspired by them can learn about the disease and available treatment options, find tips on how to take care of their bodies, and celebrate their life experiences by creating a hard copy photobook of personal stories that may be shared with loved ones.
'It's important for many of these women to make a meaningful difference in the story of metastatic breast cancer,' says Jean Sachs, CEO of LBBC. 'The My+Story site empowers women in this community to share their personal accounts and express themselves as individuals.'
Metastatic breast cancer - also referred to as stage IV breast cancer - occurs when breast cancer has spread to other parts of the body. Approximately 159,000 women in the U.S. are living with MBC, and this number is projected to increase to approximately 164,000 by the year 2015. Since there is generally no cure for metastatic breast cancer, many women focus on living well with the condition while integrating continuous treatment into their lives.
As her journey continues, Knackmuhs finds support in family and friends who provide strength and encouragement to live well. 'I give thanks to my husband, children, brothers and friends. In particular, my husband is the one who says, 'You have to live your life and just believe that research is going to keep up and that the next treatment will be there for you when you need it.' I'm fortunate to be able to connect with the metastatic breast cancer community, sharing my story and reminding my peers that we're in this together.'
To learn more about metastatic breast cancer and find resources to share your story, visit www.mymbcstory.com.