Today, March 3, is Triple Negative Breast Cancer Day, a national day raising awareness for triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC). With all of the press surrounding "pinkification" in October for breast cancer awareness, you might ask, why do we need a day in March? Common misconceptions have also led people to believe that all breast cancer is treatable if caught early, and that early detection is the answer. If there was ever a type of breast cancer that needed its own day to help set the story straight, it's triple-negative.
Much of the dialogue around breast cancer tends to suggest a uniform type of disease, but those who have experienced this diagnosis first-hand or through a loved one know that there are many different kinds of breast cancer. And unfortunately through my own experiences, I learned about one of the most aggressive, deadly types: triple-negative breast cancer.
What is triple negative breast cancer?
A diagnosis of TNBC means that your tumors are estrogen receptor-negative, progesterone receptor-negative and HER2-negative.
How common is it?
About 15 to 20 percent of breast cancers are triple-negative.
Why is it so aggressive?
Because the tumors are negative to the three most common receptors, TNBC can't be treated with medicines that slow or stop cancer growth by targeting these receptors, and instead are treated with standard chemotherapy. Without these targeted treatment options, TNBC patients have a higher risk of recurrence.
Why am I here?
I lost my incredible mother, Carol Eilbott Klebanow, three years ago in March to triple-negative breast cancer. She was diagnosed with early stage TNBC, and proactively took conservative measures after her diagnosis including a double mastectomy and chemotherapy. After nearly 5 years in remission, while exercising regularly and eating an organic healthful diet, her breast cancer returned and metastasized. For this aggressive form of breast cancer, early detection was not enough. It was not until my mom's cancer returned despite her doing everything in her power to keep it at bay, that I truly began to understand how TNBC is different.
Triple Negative Breast Cancer Day was started by the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation as a way to encourage grassroots initiatives around the country. Throughout the month of March, there are 50+ events going on all around the country to raise awareness and funding for triple-negative research. More research is needed to better understand the biology of triple-negative breast cancers.
So what can you do today, on Triple Negative Breast Cancer Day? Check out the events going on in March near you. Consider supporting an organization whose mission is to help fight TNBC. Get the word out to your friends, family, and colleagues that not all breast cancer is the same and that more research is needed for targeted treatments. Help change the conversation around breast cancer - there are many shades of pink.