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The face of metastatic breast cancer

Komen Michigan is increasing its focus on metastatic cancer.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Katie Edick will never forget the day she got her breast cancer diagnosis.

"I was metastatic from the beginning," she said. Edick had just turned 40 and it was her first mammogram. "It was in my spine and in my liver. As well as obviously in my breast."

There is no cure for metastatic breast cancer.

"I go and get treatment every three weeks. I have an infusion. I take medication every day. And I'm very up front with my kids. I let them know," said Edick. As a mother of two, she writes letters to her 15-year-old son Drew and 12-year-old daughter Anna during chemo treatments.

"I try and share little memories. I write notes of encouragement telling them to be kind. So that way I know when the time comes, I'm prepared," she said.

Credit: Katie Edick

Metastatic breast cancer is also known as stage 4, and advanced breast cancer.

It can be a breast cancer that returns or like Edick's, one that metastasizes out of nowhere. There is no early detection or genetic testing for it.

"I have had the genetic testing. I don't have genetic links to it. So, it's a mutation. Which is why I'm really excited that Komen is willing to and starting to have more funds to breast cancer research," Edick said. 

It's a change Komen Michigan's Mission Director Sarah Hockin says is needed. "We are trying to make a stronger effort into providing more research into the metastatic area because that is what will eventually end breast cancer," she said. Because any woman who dies of breast cancer is dying of metastatic breast cancer. 

"We invested almost 26 million dollars in to research funding in this past year and a lot of that is for metastatic breast cancer," said Hockin. 

Credit: University of Michigan

On average 20-30% of early stage breast cancer patients become metastatic. Edick has met many of these women through her advocacy work with metastatic breast cancer. "I've met friends now people I never would have been friends with that have metastatic breast cancer who look like me and 3 months later have died," she said.

And while that might sound like a scary reality, Edick has found a way to stay positive. "I have hope and I will do what I need to do and I live my life," she said in hopes that one day there will be a cure for metastatic breast cancer.

This Sunday is not only Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day, it's also the three-year anniversary of Edick's diagnosis. The five-year survival rate for Metastatic Breast Cancer is just 22%.

And there is no cure.

It's the main reason why Komen Michigan is focusing on devoting more funding for research, because finding a cure for metastatic breast cancer can help lead to a cure for all breast cancer.

This weekend the dome on the McKay Tower will be turning magenta, teal and pink joining many other venues around the world in support of Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day, Sunday Oct.13.

If you'd like to learn more about metastatic breast cancer you can visit our 13 Friends For Life Facebook page and join the conversation.


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