KANSAS CITY, Mo -- Metastatic or stage 4 breast cancer is not often talked about. It's breast cancer that's spread to other parts of the body and is treatable, but not curable. During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a campaign is raising awareness.
Gaby Kusko visits with the staff of Gilda's Club Kansas City, a support community for those living with cancer. Kusko has metastatic breast cancer that had already spread to her liver when it was diagnosed nearly a year ago. Kusko had regular mammograms, but because she had dense breast tissue, her tumor was not detected on them.
"I feel let down because mammograms were not helpful for me. I don't really have a hope for a cure as much as a hope for living a good quality of life," she said.
Fewer than 10 percent of breast cancers are diagnosed when the disease has already spread, but eventually up to 30 percent of all early stage breast cancers will become metastatic.
A social worker with Gilda's Club says that creates very different issues.
"There isn't an end date to their treatment unlike maybe early stage where I'm gonna go through this many rounds of chemo, or this surgery or radiation," said Clara Sainte.
Sainte knows that's why it's important for those with metastatic disease to get continued support through groups like Gilda's Club. It's among the sponsors of a campaign called "It's About Time". Women with metastatic disease are sharing their stories and their hopes.
"You just hope that you can enjoy everything that's positive," said Kusko.
She hopes, too, that awareness will result in more money for research that will eventually lead to cures for those with metastatic disease.
Kusko continues treatment and close monitoring of her cancer. She encourages other women with dense breast tissue to look into additional screenings such as MRI since her advanced cancer was not detected with mammograms.