FaceBook, the social media site, is hosting a new app called MBC Circle of Support. MBC in this case, stands for Metastatic Breast Cancer, and the app creates an online support community within FaceBook for metastatic patients. Genentech, a drug company that produces several cancer drugs, reports that research shows that most metastatic breast cancer patients feel left out of the annual Pink Ribbon cheeriness and Breast Cancer Awareness Month activities because their prognosis is much more serious.
Metastatic breast cancer patients have Stage 4 breast cancer, no matter which type of the disease they are diagnosed with. With a late stage diagnosis, the cancer has spread beyond the breast and may have affected organs such as lungs, bones, skin, liver, or brain. Even with the latest advances in treatments, conquering such a scattered enemy is difficult at best and long-term outlook is bleak for most patients. Some cases of metastatic breast cancer can be treated as a chronic disease and patients may live for several years while taking maintenance therapies, but most face a shorter timeline.
Late stage breast cancer patients have different concerns and needs than early stage survivors, and often feel misunderstood and isolated. MBC Circle of Support is meant to change that, in so far as social media can affect those experiencing metastatic disease. "The Facebook app was designed as a part of this overarching program to provide additional support for people with MBC," said Susan Willson, a spokeswoman for Genentech. "As a company, we felt there was more we could be doing outside of the lab to support people with the disease. We wanted to match the innovation inside the lab with innovation outside of the lab."
If you're already on FaceBook, search for MBC Circle of Support to sign up for the app. If you're just curious, go to the website Faces of MBC, where you can get the same information. Members who join this app must agree to terms and rules of etiquette to participate, and then start setting up their support community by inviting friends and family to help out with particular activities. You do not have to be a metastatic breast cancer patient to use this new app - if you are a friend or supporter of an MBC patient, you also are welcome to join and offer your encouragement and practical support. You don't have to let everybody on FaceBook know that you're using the Circle of Support app - just make sure you choose only those that need your information as members of your network. As with any social media network, stay safe out there and don't give away too much personal information.
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