In the United States, someone dies from breast cancer every 14 minutes, and this number has not decreased significantly in nearly 40 years, despite a huge movement to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer research. Just wearing, buying, or even walking for "pink" does not reduce deaths from breast cancer. Scientists know that research specifically focused on metastasis is crucial to significantly reduce the breast cancer mortality rate. However, metastasis research is challenging for various reasons, the biggest obstacle being lack of funding: only an estimated 2% of the funds raised for breast cancer research are spent on studies of metastasis.
Each year, 200,000 Americans are diagnosed with breast cancer. Six to ten percent of these diagnoses are metastatic, or stage 4. Another 30% progress from stages 0, 1, 2 and 3 to develop stage 4– maybe immediately, maybe 30 years down the line. Science has very few answers to the reason why cancer metastasizes and we don't yet have an effective treatment to arrest metastatic growth. What we do know is that a diagnosis of Stage 4 breast cancer is not considered survivable and that 40,000 people die of it each year. This is what METAvivor is fighting to change.
METAvivor's research mission is two-fold: to increase awareness about the funding discrepancy that shortchanges metastatic research in the cancer world (see our 30% for 30% campaign), and to directly fund the kind of research that is currently lacking. With the primary goal of extending life and ending death from MBC, METAvivor awards grants for research projects that have the potential to shift MBC from a terminal disease to a chronic condition with a decent quality of life.
METAvivor is the only US non-profit that awards peer-reviewed research grants exclusively for metastatic breast cancer. We are committed to funding the types of innovative projects that many other funders consider too risky. Although stage 4 breast cancer is the only type that kills, or maybe because it’s the type that kills, many funders shy away from attaching their names to research about metastasis. The results don't often complement the pretty pink ribbon. But METAvivor is run mostly by people living with metastatic breast cancer ourselves, and we are willing to take chances on innovative scientific approaches because we have little to lose except the death sentence that this disease has given us. The small grants that METAvivor supports will allow researchers to obtain the initial findings they need in order to attract larger grants.
Prevention and early detection, the focus of much of the breast cancer research conducted in recent decades, are laudable goals. But they do no good for those who have already had breast cancer, and especially for those of us who know we will die from metastatic breast cancer. We work diligently to raise funds for research grants because we want to encourage researchers to get into and stay in the field of metastatic breast cancer research. We understand that this is how lives will be saved. The current funding disparity is deadly for breast cancer patients, and we will tirelessly advocate for equity until 30% of breast cancer research funds are allocated to research the metastatic breast cancer that kills.
METAvivor's grant program is overseen by breast cancer experts who have dedicated their careers to metastasis research. Applications are peer reviewed and scored by two or more reviewers who donate their time to METAvivor because of their shared goal of increasing metastatic research in order to save lives. The highest scoring applications are presented to METAvivor's Board of Directors for a final decision.