One more hard fact of life in 2020: Pretty much all of us love someone who’s had breast cancer, and too many of us love someone who’s had metastatic breast cancer (MBC). Also known as stage IV or advanced breast cancer, this term means the disease has spread to other organs, typically the liver, lungs, brain, or bones, leaving patients facing an average life expectancy of just 24 to 36 months. Yet while 30% of early-stage breast cancer patients will eventually see their disease return as metastatic and 115 people die each day from MBC—like an airplane falling from the sky—less than 5% of overall breast cancer funds raised go toward researching treatments for metastatic breast cancer.
That frustrating fact is the reason more and more people are embracing a breast-cancer-awareness ribbon that’s more than just pink. Created by SELF in 1992, the instantly recognizable pink ribbon is often associated with early detection and celebrating survivors—but there’s no surviving or “beating” MBC. Thus a newer, tricolor MBC ribbon aims to make people aware of the need for more funding toward the development of life-extending treatments. Green represents the triumph of spring over winter, life over death; teal symbolizes healing and spirituality; and a thin pink-ribbon overlay signifies metastatic cancer that originated in the breast.
“There is often a misconception there is a cure for breast cancer. We want to share with anyone who will listen that there is not.”
Part of the reason the MBC ribbon has started to go mainstream is a creative initiative that shines light on the tricolor ribbon and its cause—quite literally (and beautifully). It’s called #LightUpMBC. On Tuesday, October 13, more than 115 iconic landmarks around the world will light up in green, pink, and teal, symbolizing the more than 115 people a day who die from the disease. Illuminated landmarks will range from soaring skyscrapers (like One World Trade Center) to natural wonders (Niagara Falls), spanning all 50 states and beyond. And this year you can take in the landmarks from the comfort of home thanks to #LightUpMBC Live, a virtual benefit taking place on October 13 at 8 p.m. EST on @METAvivor Facebook Live and at metavivor.org.
Some of the landmarks that have lighted up in green, pink, and teal for previous #LightUpMBC events. Click here for a full list of the landmarks participating in 2020.
The benefit will feature inspiring stories from patient ambassadors like Chawnte Randall, who’s raising awareness of the fact that the mortality rate of MBC is 40% higher for Black women; Adiba Barney, author of the upcoming book When Life Hands You Cactuses, Make Margaritas; and Dee Lakhani Shravah, who found a lump during a self-exam and was diagnosed with MBC just before her 40th birthday. Veteran Kirby Lewis will discuss his mastectomy (because yes, men get breast cancer too), and Eva Crawford, a mother of three, will speak to why pink is not enough. The event will also include musical performances by John Rzeznik of the Goo Goo Dolls and David Bryan of Bon Jovi, who won a Tony Award for the Broadway musical Diana. In addition to tuning in, you can show support on social media: Share a photo and/or story of someone who inspires you and include the hashtag #LightUpMBC and this donation link: www.metavivor.org/LightUpMBC. By nominating friends to participate, you can help spread the word and raise funds for MBC research.
The spark for #LightUpMBC came from Laura Inahara, a New Hampshire woman who lost her best friend, Jessica Moore, to metastatic breast cancer. A varsity girls’ basketball coach, Moore had gotten elbowed in the breast while playing the game one day, and the resulting pain kept lingering. As a nurse, she knew her injury should be healing more quickly. After she visited doctors to get checked out, she found out she had metastatic breast cancer—meaning the disease had already progressed and spread to her bones, despite her having no other symptoms. She was only 32. She fought the disease for four years, passing away at age 36.
While 30% of early-stage breast-cancer patients will eventually see their disease return as metastatic, less than 5% of overall breast cancer funds raised go toward researching treatments for metastatic breast cancer.
“Prior to Jessica’s passing, she said she thought it would be amazing to light a landmark for MBC as a way to raise awareness,” Inahara says. In October 2017, five months after Moore died, the group had their first landmark—the Memorial Bridge in Portsmouth, New Hampshire—lit up near her hometown through the work of Moore Fight Moore Strong. A mom who works in finance by day, Inahara sits down each night around 9 p.m. to work on #LightUpMBC and add to the roster of worldwide participating locations. The ultimate goal: more donations, via Metavivor, going to researching treatments that could turn stag -IV breast cancer into a chronic disease versus a deadly one. “[Metavivor remains] the only U.S. organization dedicated to awarding annual grants for peer-reviewed stage IV breast cancer research,” Inahara explains. “That is what it will take to find a cure and stop losing more than 42,000 lives to breast cancer each year. We feel certain that we can get more research funding so no more of our friends have to die from this disease. There is often a misconception there is a cure for breast cancer. We want to share with anyone who will listen that there is not.”
Originally Appeared on Glamour