At our conference, a space for people with metastatic breast cancer to be seen and heard
LBBC’s conference began as an event, but our commitment continues as a movement to ensure people with metastatic breast cancer live longer, and better, lives
In 2006, Living Beyond Breast Cancer dedicated its spring conference to the needs and experiences of people living with metastatic breast cancer.
At the time, we were the first breast cancer organization to commit an entire conference to people with metastatic disease, a community that had often been ignored in research, in advocacy, and in public awareness.
And for the last 17 years, the LBBC Conference on Metastatic Breast Cancer has been more than an event. It’s a space for people living with this disease to connect, to find community, and to make their voices heard.
When we come together later this month for Thriving Together: 2023 Conference on Metastatic Breast Cancer, we will welcome 500 people attending the in-person event in Philadelphia and more than 1,000 others participating virtually from around the world. This conference will be the continuation of an effort that grew out of Silent Voices, our groundbreaking 2005 report that surveyed people living with metastatic breast cancer about the needs they felt were not being addressed.
Silent Voices served as a basis for our conference and other services directed at metastatic breast cancer, which comprise at least 40 percent of our annual programming. Programs like Hear My Voice, which since 2015 has helped people with metastatic disease amplify their personal experiences through advocacy. These advocates have been our boots on the ground, connecting with others in our community to call for legislation and policy changes and raising public awareness of concerns facing people with metastatic breast cancer.
Over the years, our metastatic conference has been a place for people to find their collective voice.
It was at our conference that the first metastatic breast cancer die-in was held, demanding greater urgency and attention to finding cures for metastatic disease. It was the launching place for a movement to add metastatic breast cancer to statistics collected by the National Cancer Institute. And it’s a place where people, many for the first time, see they are not alone in their feelings and experience.
Looking back, we see how much has changed in the years we’ve held this conference. There has been a significant increase in the number and variety of treatments available for MBC, and new tumor biomarker tests to help tailor and target therapies. We’ve seen greater focus on the debilitating side effects that affect our community’s quality of life, and an emerging awareness of the vital need to offer supportive care from the point of metastatic diagnosis. And we’ve seen new ways for people to connect virtually and on social media, allowing us to form communities and share information across the country and around the globe.
As this field of knowledge has grown and changed, our conference has evolved to meet your needs for medical information and personal support. This year’s conference will feature sessions directed to people who are newly diagnosed—to help you understand the medical and emotional challenges that you are facing right now—and people who have been living long-term with the disease—to address the changing treatment options and the unique challenges you are experiencing.
Seventeen years ago, sessions on living long-term with MBC would not have been possible, because the treatment options were so few.
The program will be anchored as well by thoughtful keynote presentations that will prove useful to anyone who has been impacted by the disease. Among these will be can’t-miss sessions on the latest advances in treatment and on living well with metastatic cancer.
Despite all the advances we’ve seen in the last 17 years, many challenges persist. Far too many people still die of breast cancer every year. Black, indigenous, and people of color continue to be left out of research, though they carry a disproportionate burden of metastatic diagnoses. And the costs of cancer care continue to rise, pushing many families into bankruptcy and forcing others to make impossible choices between getting the care they need and paying for the basics of day-to-day life. These challenges confirm the importance of programs where people affected by the disease can share their experiences and forge new connections to demand that this community is seen and heard.
LBBC continues to lead, working with members in our community to develop programs and services tailored to the needs of people living with metastatic breast cancer. We have stepped up to take a leadership role in the Metastatic Breast Cancer Alliance. And we remain driven to educate, to advocate, to support the best quality of life possible for people living with metastatic breast cancer, and to save lives.