Thursday, October 25, 2018

Profile: Katherine O'Brien

This post is an installment of our profile series featuring participants, loved ones, advocates, and team members of the MBCproject. Thank you to all who have shared their voice and stories.

Today's profile features Katherine O'Brien.

Q1. In your own words, can you share with us your reasons for joining the Metastatic Breast Cancer project (MBCproject)?

Because they asked me to and it made sense. I wanted to help...not only the researchers but my family and ALL families impacted by metastatic breast cancer. I am a board member for the Metastatic Breast Cancer Network. We were the first to participate. It's amazing to see how the MBC Project has evolved.

Q2. Please tell us what being a part of the MBCproject means to you.

Realistically, this won't help me. But it I hope it will help those who come after me. It is something positive and proactive I can do. I was metastatic from first diagnosis--an unusual presentation. The Human Genome Atlas only includes 15 patients like me...maybe I can help fill in some gaps.

Q3. If you'd like to share, please tell us how it felt when you were diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer.

My mom died from inflammatory metastatic breast cancer in 1983 when I was 17. So I was terrified. I assumed my death was imminent. I walked around in a daze for at least six months. It was surreal. I felt fine -- I couldn't believe my breast cancer had spread to my bones and was incurable. How was that possible?

Q4. In a few words, can you please share with us your hopes for the future of metastatic breast cancer?

We lose half a million people to this disease annually. I hope we can change that. If we cannot cure breast cancer in its many permutations, then I hope we can help people live with it for a normal lifespan with an excellent quality of life. I hope we can identify what causes cancer to spread to distant sites and stop this from happening. I hope that I will be the last person in my family--or anyone's family to deal with this insidious disease.

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