Second Hope (SecondHope.org.uk), the first UK charity to focus specifically on the needs of the 'forgotten women' living with advanced breast cancer - of which there are currently an estimated 36,000 - launched on 29 September.i Second Hope is a vital initiative that will both shine a light on these forgotten women, and address the critical need for specialist support and information sharing.
"There are a multitude of cancer charities providing support to women living with breast cancer in the UK, but not a single one that focuses solely on the needs of the 36,000 who are living with, or go on to develop, advanced breast cancer - the only breast cancer that kills," commented Julie Phillips, Founder and Trustee of Second Hope, who was herself diagnosed with advanced breast cancer in November 2011, and sadly passed away on Saturday.
Fellow Trustee, Professor Charles Coombes, Professor of Medical Oncology, Imperial College London, added, "Although we've seen significant progress made in recent years in the early diagnosis and treatment of primary breast cancer, the reality for those living with advanced breast cancer could not be more different. Advanced breast cancer remains the second most common cause of cancer death among women in the UK. This initiative is aimed at improving support, research and ultimately, I hope, treatment for these patients and I welcome it."
Second Hope aims to help level the playing field for people living with a diagnosis of advanced breast cancer, by raising public awareness; by providing up-to-date information and support for those living with advanced breast cancer, including access to a telephone support service; and through fund raising activities to support research.
"While many existing breast cancer charities play an important role in providing both emotional and practical support following a cancer diagnosis, I know from personal experience that my story, and those of others living with advanced breast cancer, is generally very different to those of women living with primary breast cancer," said Julie Phillips. "While I was lucky to find an anonymous Facebook group with whom I could discuss my diagnosis and confide, there was no charity that truly represented me. Through Second Hope, we hope to change that reality for thousands of women across the UK."
The Charity Has Four Main Objectives
To raise awareness and increase knowledge of advanced breast cancer
There have been many advances in the treatment of breast cancer but the fact remains that approximately 30% of people living with breast cancer will develop metastatic disease, sometimes years after their initial diagnoses. Sometimes people will go for months with unexplained symptoms without realising they may be connected to their previous breast cancer diagnosis.
We aim to raise awareness and increase knowledge of the disease by providing detailed information on advanced breast cancer and the symptoms to look out for.
To support and empower those diagnosed and living with advanced breast cancer
A secondary diagnosis is devastating but it is not an immediate death sentence. People can, through drugs and other treatments, achieve long periods of remission and have a good quality of life with the disease.
We aim to empower those diagnosed with advanced breast cancer by providing up to date information on treatment options, local and national support groups and, on a practical level, the resources and financial benefits that may be available.
To campaign on behalf of those affected by advanced breast cancer
Despite a number of promising new treatments for advanced breast cancer, NHS funding is not always available. Although these treatments cannot cure advanced breast cancer, they can provide extra months, sometimes years, of good quality life and we believe they should be available to all who need them.
We aim to ensure all advanced people living with advanced breast cancer have access to life extending drugs and treatments.
To fund research into advanced breast cancer
Around 30% of breast cancer patients will develop metastatic disease, yet it is estimated that less than 5% of all breast cancer research funding is dedicated to advanced breast cancer.
We aim to increase the proportion of funding which currently goes towards advanced breast cancer and will only fund peer reviewed projects dedicated to researching advanced breast cancer and potential treatments.