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Women with advanced breast cancer speak out

We’re fighting for our lives: women with advanced breast cancer speak out


A group of women with advanced breast cancer, Metavivors, says a report released by the Breast Cancer Foundation NZ paints a stark picture while perhaps ironically raising hope.

The report shows that women in this country with advanced breast cancer survive for a median of 16 months compared to two to three years in other countries, and receive significantly lower levels of treatment and care.

“This is our reality. The numbers are dismal and sad,” Metavivors member Terre Nicholson says.

“We're happy the report has been released because it shows something we've known since we were diagnosed - treatment in New Zealand is sub-standard, there are few choices for us, and many of us are written off by the medical profession. Until now, we didn't have the proof to back this up.”

Terre says that perhaps ironically the report, “I’m Still Here”, gives some hope.

“It makes us hopeful that perhaps now the government, Pharmac, and the public will start listening to us when we beg for the chance for a longer life. We want better transparency from Pharmac and the government to back funding of proven, Medsafe approved, life-extending drugs,” Terre says. “The median survival time with these drugs is an additional two years. It’s sad when you have to spend those years fundraising and hoping to have enough money for next month’s treatment.”

“Two years may not sound like much. But it's literally a lifetime for us. For me, it means I will have time to help my husband get ready for me being gone. We all have very important reasons to want extra time – time to spend with our family and other loved-ones. For mothers, it can mean helping children adapt and cope or their toddlers remembering their mums.

“It also means we're two years closer to a cure. With rapid advances in research, a cure (or something close to it) may only be a few years away. We want to be alive to see it.”

Terre says the group thanks Breast Cancer Foundation NZ for publishing this important document and Breast Cancer Aotearoa Collation for speaking up, caring for, and advocating on behalf of women with advanced breast cancer. “We're fighting for our lives - and we and our loved ones think our lives are worth saving.”

To see the report, “I’m Still Here”, go to Breast Cancer Foundation NZ’s website at www.breastcancerfoundation.org.nz/ABC


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