In Search of a Cure for Metastatic Breast Cancer: Accelerating Research | I'm Taking Charge

In Search of a Cure for Metastatic Breast Cancer: Accelerating Research

In Search of a Cure for Metastatic Breast Cancer: Accelerating Research

To close out our May focus on legislative activism, we welcome this guest post by Josh Newby, co-founder of Theresa’s Research Foundation. He explains the importance of participating in and supporting research on metastatic breast cancer, and what his organization does to help find a cure for metastatic breast cancer.

Unknown to many, the leading killer of women aged 20-59 is metastatic breast cancer (MBC). There is hope as research to understand this type of cancer is increasingly receiving more attention and funding. However, with the proposed budget cuts from the federal government, this progress is being threatened. It is helpful to take time to learn about this disease, to understand the availability of clinical trials as an option and to become familiar with the current state of funding.


Need for Participation in Clinical Trials

cure for metastatic breast cancer
Breast cancer that remains within the breast can be cured in most cases. Metastasis occurs when cancer cells travel outside of the breast tissue to other vital organs. Currently, MBC is treatable but not curable. An estimated 155,000 Americans are currently living with MBC. Perhaps most damaging to progress is that very few patients participate in clinical trials on new therapies that help build a case for FDA approval. The advantage of participating in a clinical trial is that patients might get access to a lifesaving drug years before the general public does. One estimate is that less than five percent of patients with metastatic breast cancer are involved in a clinical trial. Much more needs to be done to improve awareness about these trials and make them more accessible to patients. From the patient’s perspective, clinical research is a difficult world to navigate —but in the setting of an incurable disease, it is absolutely critical.

The same can be said for researchers and physicians working on metastatic breast cancer. With the proposed NIH budget cuts it is crucial that they work together. There are several resources, such as the Metastatic Breast Cancer Alliance, that are available to help patients and families learn more about clinical research, find support services and navigate the system. The Alliance is also working with researchers and physicians to help advance research. Recent research into breast cancer has been extensive and remarkable.

However, current treatments can be arduous, the standard of care is not well established, and treatment is not matched to individual cancers. In other words, precision medicine in metastatic breast cancer still has room to improve.


Need for Both Federal and Private Funding

cure for metastatic breast cancer
With the launch of the Cancer Moonshot program by the White House in 2016, greater attention has been brought for the need to support cancer research. Additionally, with the passing of the 21st Century Cures Act, everyone was optimistic about the future. However, with the proposed budget cuts this progress is potentially unraveling.

Though private funding makes a huge impact and a few states have programs such as the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, cancer research requires support from the federal government. It is crucial that we work together to address these problems by assessing the full picture and continuing to spread more awareness.

Our organization, Theresa’s Research Foundation, is doing just that. We host an annual medical conference that brings together researchers, physicians, advocates, and industry leaders to accelerate metastatic breast cancer research with a goal of extending lives, improving quality of life, and providing better treatment options for patients. The Metastatic Breast Cancer Conference will be on October 12 and 13 in Houston, Texas this year.

Even with the proposed budget cuts we remain optimistic. However, we must work together to spread awareness and voice to those in public office how critical it is to support cancer research. With new technology and current research delivering us promising insights, there is a very real possibility of finding cures.


Josh Newby Bio:

cure for metastatic breast cancer

Josh and his mother, Theresa

Mr. Newby is committed to improving the lives of those impacted by metastatic breast cancer. His mother, Theresa Newby Harpols, was an early-stage breast cancer survivor that battled metastatic breastcancer for over three and a half years before passing away on Thanksgiving Day of 2013. Together, they established Theresa’s Research Foundation with a mission to fund metastatic breast cancer research and improve the quality of lives of those impacted by this disease. The foundation hosts an annual medical conference for metastatic breast cancer. Mr. Newby is a carrier of the BRCAII gene, a hereditary breast cancer gene, which gives him a unique perspective and even stronger desire to improve outcomes for breast cancer patients. He currently resides in Houston, Texas, where he works closely with renowned researcher and clinician Dr. Matthew Ellis. He also works as an advocate and serves on the Executive Group of the Metastatic Breast Cancer Alliance.


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