A ‘new wave’ in breast cancer awareness

Many people don't know there are several types of breast cancer and the least talked about is advanced breast cancer

October was breast cancer month and local researcher Sheryl Shermak says we are leaving a lot out of the conversation.

For example, she said many people don’t know there are several types of breast cancer and the least talked about is advanced breast cancer (metastatic and/or stage 4).

“Advanced breast cancer used to be a disease that only had poor outcomes and that was primarily known as a palliative condition,” said Shermak, a long time Qualicum Beach resident.

“Rapid new developments in breast cancer treatment mean there are more options available for women living with the various kinds of breast cancer, including advanced forms. There is now a growing number of women who live many years with advanced breast cancer as a long-term chronic condition.”

“There is now a new wave happening in breast cancer awareness, given the many changes that have happened over the last couple decades and the need to take stock of which issues need more attention.”

Shermak — an interdisciplinary doctoral student in the UVic nursing department — is leading a study, seeking local women who were diagnosed with advanced breast cancer at least two years ago and are not experiencing active health decline. “In other words women who are living relatively well with an advanced breast cancer,” she said.

Participation will include two informal interviews, with options for more involvement depending on the interest and health of participants. The exact format and timeline is flexible.

“The goal is to increase awareness and insight into the lives of women who experience advanced breast cancer as an ongoing health condition, an often hidden group of women with breast cancer,” she said.

People interested in participating should contact Shermak at sshermak@uvic.ca or 1-250-886-4691.

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