Tag Archives: Breast Cancer

How a Pink Tutu is Impacting Metastatic Breast Cancer

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Receiving a cancer diagnosis is a life-changing experience, not only for the patient but also for his or her family. Metastatic breast cancer (MBC) – the most advanced form of breast cancer – can be particularly emotional for caregivers to face because they must adjust to the fact that their loved one will have cancer for the rest of her life. While an MBC diagnosis is not something anyone takes lightheartedly, laughter can be helpful to successfully manage the journey.

1_Bob and Linda Carey_MG_6788No one knows this better than Bob Carey, Founder of The Tutu Project, whose wife, Linda was diagnosed with MBC in 2006. As a commercial and fine art photographer for 20 years, Bob has used his love of the medium to spread laughter, hope and support to those living with cancer all over the world. The Tutu Project started as a photo campaign and the project eventually grew into something much larger than he ever imagined.

Linda made it her mission to raise funds to provide financial support for breast cancer patients and their families. She and Bob joined forces to create The Carey Foundation, which distributes funds raised from donations and sales of Bob’s prints, calendars, t-shirts, postcards, and a currently sold-out book, to help cover expenses typically not covered by insurance, such as transportation, home care, child care and medical supplies. New photos are regularly added to The Tutu Project website and distributed through social media as each project is completed. The decision to wear only the tutu was Bob’s way of pushing the limits and emulating the bravery of cancer patients the best way he could.

1BobBelow, Bob discusses his and Linda’s shared journey of living with MBC and how his personal project involving a pink tutu has turned into a worldwide source of comfort, joy and inspiration for not only him and Linda, but also for thousands of women living with MBC.

AstraZeneca: How did the diagnosis of MBC affect you and Linda?

Bob: After being in remission from breast cancer for three years, Linda was diagnosed with MBC in 2006. Even though she had to begin treatment again, it seemed the MBC diagnosis was more emotional and psychological. With her initial breast cancer diagnosis, she understood that it was possible that she could die from this disease, but there was also a great deal of hope based on her surgery and subsequent treatment. When her cancer returned, the concept of hope changed, and the concept of death became a very real fear. Although Linda is a very positive person, which I believe has helped, her MBC diagnosis was the start of an emotional roller coaster for us.

AstraZeneca: Since learning of Linda’s diagnosis, how has The Tutu Project evolved?

Bob: Initially, it was a project to help myself and then became a way to make my wife laugh, as well as bring a bit of humor into our now upside down life. When Linda had a recurrence she took the images with her when she received treatment, and the emotions the photos conveyed seemed to resonate with the other patients.  Now that it’s spread worldwide, I recognize that I have an opportunity to bring laughter and inspiration into the lives of people living with breast cancer.

AstraZeneca: What challenges have you faced being a caregiver?

Bob: The difficult aspects; seeing what Linda goes through daily. Although she’s amazing, it’s hard to not be able to fix everything. One minute she feels good and then the next she doesn’t, I feel kind of helpless. I know our life has changed, but even with MBC Linda is very active and since this project has begun it’s a major focus of hers. With Linda I feel like I’m more of an emotional support.

AstraZeneca: Can you share your top three pieces of advice for other MBC caregivers?

Bob: 1. Take time for yourself. Though this is about the one diagnosed with cancer, it’s important to recognize you also need to accept support from others and make sure you take time out for yourself.

2. Don’t take things personally. Most of the time it’s not about you, although it may seem to be expressed as such.

3. Sometimes it’s not about finding the right words. Sometimes it’s a hug or a touch that’s needed. This may take time to recognize.

AstraZeneca: How have you seen The Tutu Project help MBC patients and their loved ones?

Bob: By the Facebook messages and emails we receive, the images seem to impact those living with breast cancer as well as family members, sometimes even after their loved one has passed. It helps them on a daily basis – brings laughter and humor to their day. They pretty much know that we’re there for them.

While Linda and I were in Germany for a showing of a short documentary about The Tutu Project and gallery exhibit featuring our photographs, sponsored by Deutsche Telekom, we invited people to stop by the exhibit and say hello. One woman came up to us and asked us if we could talk to her friend on the phone. She was still in treatment and unable to travel the several hours to meet us. She cried when she heard our voices. We cried because it was such a touching thing for a friend to do for another.

AstraZeneca: How can individuals support The Tutu Project and the work The Carey Foundation is doing on behalf of the MBC community?

Bob: Donations can be made on our website: http://careyfoundation.org.

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To view Bob’s photography, visit www.TutuProject.com.

For more information tailored to the needs of MBC patients and caregivers visit www.LifeBeyondPink.com.

All photos from The Tutu Project were taken and are owned by Bob Carey.

Living with Metastatic Breast Cancer: Become Your Own Advocate

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By Jen Campisano, founder of Booby and the Beast

It was the summer of 2011 and things were going well. I had landed a job I was happy with, and my husband, Chris, had been offered a job as an assistant professor at Arizona State University. After three years of marriage and welcoming our son, Quinn, into the world we were exhausted, but things felt like they were finally falling into place.

That all changed when I noticed a lump in my breast. At first, I didn’t think much of it and neither did my doctor. During a visit to my late mother-in-law’s house in California, I confided in her that the lump on my breast was not responding to the hot compresses that my doctor had recommended for what he believed might have been blocked milk ducts from nursing Quinn. She encouraged me to get a second opinion and I did. Over the next few weeks, I went from thinking the lump was nothing to learning that I had an aggressive form of breast cancer – a tumor that was now the size of a walnut. Tests in those early weeks showed that the cancer was metastatic.

I didn’t know much about breast cancer, let along metastatic breast cancer (MBC), at the time and assumed that I would be “done” with this chapter in my life once I had completed treatment. My husband and I were stunned to learn in the spring of 2012 that the cancer had spread to other places in my body, and that I would be in treatment for the rest of my life. I also learned that MBC claims the lives of 40,000 Americans each year, a number I found daunting.

To help cope with the fears and complex emotions I was feeling, I started a blog. But, I credit a good friend of mine with nudging me to share my experience as a way to help others who are on the same journey. The blog has connected me with a remarkable community and has provided me with a platform to help tell the MBC story to a broader audience than I ever could have imagined. This National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I want to take this opportunity to urge those living with this disease to do two things: get educated and advocate for yourself.

Educate yourself and take advantage of resources available to you

Education is so important! We live in a “soundbite society,” in which we seem to gravitate towards light and happy endings. This can be an additional challenge when facing a disease as complex as MBC. It is precisely for this reason, however, that education is so important.

The more you educate yourself – whether it’s learning about your hormone receptor status, conducting research into potential clinical trials, or seeking information about other options available to you – the better equipped you are to communicate and meet your needs. I encourage people living with MBC to make informed treatment decisions and take advantage of resources that can improve quality of life.

Advocate for yourself: you are the priority

It is also important to create a strong partnership with your entire treatment team. One of the things I love most about my treatment team is that they are so responsive. Whether it’s taking the time to discuss my concerns or having me come into the office to get extra fluids when I’m not feeling well, my team has always made time for me. I believe this type of responsiveness and partnership has been a crucial factor in why I am doing so well in spite of this devastatingly scary disease.

My message to those who do not have a strong partnership with their treatment team is to not be afraid to create a team you can trust and have open dialogue with! When your life is on the line, you have to push until you get answers to whatever it is that is troubling you, and if something doesn’t seem right, I encourage you to seek out other professionals until you are comfortable. I am so glad I took the time to create a treatment team whom I felt comfortable with.

I have had no evidence of disease (NED) for 23 months and continue to go receive treatment every three weeks. In spite of the reality that I will remain in treatment for the rest of my life – I count my blessings every day.

Jen Campisano writes about her experiences with metastatic breast cancer and motherhood on her blog, Booby and the Beast. She lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her husband, Chris, and son, Quinn.

Personalized Healthcare: Early Diagnostics, More Targeted Treatment

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By Paul Hudson, President, AstraZeneca US and Executive Vice President, North America

Families will come together to celebrate Mother’s Day this Sunday, the same day Women’s Health Week begins in the United States. This time of year, in particular, makes me reflect on the opportunity we have in healthcare to profoundly impact the future of women’s health. New advancements in diagnostics and treatment have the potential to significantly improve women’s health – notably among ovarian, breast and lung cancer patients.

At AstraZeneca, we understand the healthcare system is moving away from a singular approach for all, and toward treating diseases with an increased focus on personalized healthcare.

The promise of personalized healthcare is clear: It can enable doctors to more quickly identify which treatments will be most effective for individual patients based on their genetic makeup. Personalized healthcare means we can identify when a potential treatment requires an individualized strategy at an early stage and develop an integrated diagnostic plan. This helps get the right treatments to the right patients at the right times – even faster.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the field of oncology, where more effective and targeted treatments are helping cancer patients live longer, healthier and more productive lives. Since its peak in 1991, the cancer death rate is down 20 percent and the five-year survival rate has climbed to 68 percent.

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Despite this progress, there is still much work to be done. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in women in the United States, and breast cancer remains the most common cancer among American women. Ovarian cancer causes more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system and is often diagnosed late because symptoms mirror everyday ailments.

5.8.15 img 2But there’s promise. For these women, it is vital that they understand their tumor type and hormone status so they and their doctors can tailor the most effective individual treatment plans possible. At AstraZeneca, we’re working side by side with leading scientists from different disciplines to better understand how complex data can be converted into innovative treatments. For example, over 80 percent of our pipeline across therapeutic areas is being developed with a personalized healthcare strategy and more than 30 programs have a companion diagnostic test.

For ovarian cancer in particular, up to 15 percent of women have a BRCA mutation, but nearly half of women with ovarian cancer and a BRCA mutation have no significant family history. Despite the fact that major guidelines recommend that all patients living with ovarian cancer be considered for BRCA testing, not all women living with ovarian cancer are tested. By collaborating with experts in diagnostics, we’re working to drive an increase in testing and a greater awareness of risks so that innovative treatments can be matched to those patients who will benefit most.

5.8.15 img 1We’re also using personalized approaches for testing lung cancer, which accounts for about 13 percent of all new cancer cases in the United States. There are currently limited options for treating patients with advanced or metastatic lung cancer. Targeted therapies and companion diagnostics may improve treatment outcomes for patients with epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutation-positive advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). AstraZeneca has pioneered targeted lung cancer treatments, and we are committed to advancing knowledge of patient management and diagnostic testing in advanced NSCLC.

There continues to be significant positive news in our fight against cancer in the United States and around the world. Taken together, increased education, improved treatments and advanced diagnostic tools are helping doctors make faster, more accurate decisions that are helping patients lead healthier, longer lives.

AZ Launches Metastatic Breast Cancer Photo-Sharing Campaign

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Post a photo of yourself on Twitter using #MBCStrength to shine a light on metastatic breast cancer.

More than 173,000 women in the United States are living with metastatic breast cancer (MBC), and each has a story to tell. Women with MBC encounter unique challenges, and it is often an important part of their journey to share their stories and connect with others who are living with the disease.

In support of women living with MBC, AstraZeneca recently launched the #MBCStrength photo-sharing campaign. Women with MBC are encouraged to take photos of themselves that highlight their personal journeys and post them on Twitter using #MBCStrength. Photos posted by October 1, 2014 will be considered for a display in Times Square in New York City on October 13, 2014, Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day.

For more information about this photo-sharing campaign, visit MyMBCStory.com. This site also houses tools and information tailored for women living with MBC. New to the site are personal MBC accounts from Priscilla and Linda: two inspiring women who draw love and support from their family, friends and community.

AZ Talks Oncology with Social Media Leaders

On June 17, AstraZeneca will host an Oncology Summit with leading voices in the breast, lung, ovarian and thyroid cancer spaces. Join the conversation: #AZoncology

By Rachel Humphrey, Head of Immuno-Oncology 

Today’s patient is online. Not only are patients searching for information on their personal health conditions, but they are seeking other patients who have shared in their experiences. This is especially true in the oncology space, where patients and advocates have taken to social media, helping each other locate resources and discuss the advancement of cancer research and care.

In June of 2013, through an inaugural oncology summit, we were able to learn firsthand from a diverse group of advocates about the online communities they’ve started, the information they consider most useful, and what AstraZeneca can do to help.

Continuing our efforts to give a voice to patients living with these debilitating diseases, AstraZeneca will be hosting a second oncology summit on June 17 in Gaithersburg, MD expanding to include some of the leading voices in the oncology space.

With a 30-year legacy in oncology, AstraZeneca has been a leader in developing innovative approaches to treat cancer, concentrating on those therapy areas where we believe we can make the greatest difference. It is our primary commitment to patients that is at the heart of everything we do. Join our conversation: #AZoncology.

On June 17, AstraZeneca will host an Oncology Summit with leading voices in the breast, lung, ovarian and thyroid cancer spaces. Join the conversation: #AZoncology

On June 17, AstraZeneca will host an Oncology Summit with leading voices in the breast, lung, ovarian and thyroid cancer spaces. Join the conversation: #AZoncology

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AstraZeneca Contributes to Scientific Dialogue at San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium

AstraZeneca helps celebrate 36 years of SABCS.

AstraZeneca helps celebrate 36 years of SABCS.

As part of its commitment to oncology research, the MedImmune Specialty Care team at AstraZeneca is attending the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium (SABCS), beginning on December 10.  Each year, SABCS serves as an international forum for scientists and clinicians to share information and ideas to advance progress against breast cancer. During the conference, oncology experts will provide updates on the latest strides in the fields of breast cancer research and treatment, and will continue the tradition of scientific exchange established when the symposium was first held in San Antonio in 1978.

Oncology is a core therapy area for AstraZeneca, and we are committed to expanding on our more than 30-year history in this space with continued research in women’s cancers. AstraZeneca is dedicated to understanding the mechanisms behind cancer cell development, and our compounds are represented in more than 10 breast cancer studies being presented at SABCS this year.  We look forward to sharing information with the SABCS community about AstraZeneca’s ongoing research in breast cancer.

From conducting innovative research to offering patient support initiatives, AstraZeneca aims to communicate important findings to the breast cancer community during SABCS and beyond. We recently launched an interactive video resource to help aid the dialogue between health care providers and their patients with metastatic breast cancer (MBC) as well as MyMBCStory.com, a new educational website tailored to the unique needs of women living with MBC. These are some of the many ways AstraZeneca seeks to contribute to solutions in the field of oncology.

Keeping the evolving needs of patients top-of-mind, we look forward to engaging in meaningful dialogue at SABCS with some of the world’s most inspirational leaders in breast cancer.

Click here for information about AstraZeneca’s oncology pipeline. For information about all of the company’s ongoing clinical trials in the United States, visit www.clinicaltrials.gov.

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Growing Support for Metastatic Breast Cancer

AstraZeneca supports those who face a challenging disease on Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day.

AstraZeneca supports those who face a challenging disease on Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day

A diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer (MBC) can bring with it feelings of uncertainty, fear and worry for women and their loved ones. While learning that breast cancer has moved from its origin to another location – most commonly the liver, lungs, bones or brain – can be overwhelming news, women diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer can find encouragement, support and comfort in each others’ stories and experiences.

That is why, in 2009, nine patients, in an effort to build awareness around the unique concerns and challenges of this particular type of cancer, traveled to Washington, D.C. and achieved the proclamation of October 13 as Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day.

It is this symbolic day and the inspiring stories of approximately 159,000 women across the country who are living with this disease, that drive AstraZeneca to provide more resources and more medical research to support the changing needs of women with metastatic breast cancer.

Share a badge that represents you or a woman you care about who is living with metastatic breast cancer.

Share a badge that represents you or a woman you care about who is living with metastatic breast cancer.

For example, AstraZeneca recently launched the website My+Story. My+Story is tailored to the unique needs of metastatic breast cancer patients with a focus on mind, body and spirit, and offers a space for those who have been touched by this cancer to share their story. It also provides an opportunity for anyone to design and share a badge to show support for women with metastatic breast cancer. Each time you share a badge from this page to Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest, AstraZeneca will make a donation to two MBC advocacy groups—Living Beyond Breast Cancer and Metastatic Breast Cancer Network.

On Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day, please join AstraZeneca in supporting those with metastatic breast cancer by learning more about the disease, listening to their stories and creating your own badge to share.

AstraZeneca launches webisode to aid HCP-patient dialogue

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AZ’s Bridging the Gap webisode features testimonials from women living with metastatic breast cancer.

As part of our ongoing support for patients with metastatic breast cancer (MBC), AstraZeneca  launched an interactive, educational video portal on OncLive.com entitled Bridging the Gap. The program features testimonials from seven women living with metastatic breast cancer, communicating their personal health journeys directly to health care providers (HCPs).

To aid the dialogue between patients with MBC– the most advanced stage of breast cancer–and their HCPs, each woman has shared her own concerns and goals while living with MBC, highlighting the importance of effective doctor-patient communication as well as their experiences with what makes this relationship a success. From receiving a diagnosis of MBC to working as a team with oncologists, the women provide perspective on how key conversations have played a role in their own treatment journeys.

Tools for both HCPs and patients are also available. Visit the site and download educational resources.

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A focus on metastatic breast cancer

For more than 30 years, AstraZeneca has researched, discovered, and developed medicines to fight cancer.

Our company is also a founding member of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which is recognized every October. The activities that take place during this month are meant to promote breast cancer awareness, share information on the disease, and provide greater access to screening services.

But gaps still exist.

For example, we want to provide more resources and more medical research for people with metastatic breast cancer.

A breast cancer tumor that has traveled outside the breast region is still thought of as breast cancer in the new location. For instance, if breast cancer spreads to the brain, the tumor in the brain is considered metastatic breast cancer and not brain cancer.

Metastatic breast cancer—a form of advanced breast cancer also referred to as stage IV breast cancer—is diagnosed when a breast cancer has spread to other parts of the body. If the cancer has spread to the bones, it is called bone metastases. Cancers that have spread to the liver, lungs, or brain are called visceral metastases.

Metastatic breast cancer often develops as a recurrence of a previously diagnosed breast cancer. In a small number of cases, metastatic breast cancer is diagnosed when there was no prior history of breast cancer.

Every person with cancer is different; who they become and what they need is different.

While we cannot and do not want to speak on behalf of these individuals, we have spent a great deal of time learning from people with metastatic breast cancer, talking to third-party groups that are advocating on their behalf, and collaborating with the doctors who are on the front lines of patient care.

So during this National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we will blog about some of the insights that others have shared with us and point to resources for people who are living with metastatic breast cancer.

Check back this week for guest blog posts from organizations that offer resources and support for people with metastatic breast cancer.

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