On Wednesday 29 September, BIG launched its Pink October 2021 campaign “Living with metastatic breast cancer: the vision of the oncologist versus the patient”, together with Dr Martine Piccart, Joëlle Thils, a patient living with metastatic breast cancer, and Belgian artist Roseline D’Oreye. Our wish is to raise awareness of metastatic breast cancer and the importance of global collaboration to make progress against the disease.
The launch started with an introduction on BIG, the largest international network of research groups dedicated solely to breast cancer, and its philanthropy unit BIG against breast cancer by Dr Martine Piccart.
After presenting this year’s theme “metastatic breast cancer”, Piccart explained her vision as an oncologist, while emphasising the value of collaboration and the urgent need to find better treatments for patients: “Once the cancer spreads to other organs or recurs, we doctors have far fewer options for our patients. It is our duty to carry out further research. It’s vital,”.
The AURORA study, a European research programme initiated by BIG, aims to better understand how and why breast cancer returns – sometimes years later – and spreads to other organs. As a strong advocate of international research collaboration, Piccart believes that “AURORA will shed new light to the dark landscape of advanced breast cancer,”. For many patients, AURORA offers the hope of better treatments and eventually one day cures for all patients affected by the disease.
Next to Dr Martine Piccart sat Joëlle Thils, 52 years old and an enthusiastic sportswoman, who saw her cancer coming back after 14 years of remission.
Joëlle compares her cancer to an ultramarathon that requires endurance, strength and never giving up. She explained her everyday battle from regular check-ups, the scars and traumas of the various treatments and operations to the worry that she may not live to see her grandchildren. The consequences of long-term treatment on her day-to-day life and her loved ones are heavy and often go unnoticed by others.
Despite the heavy burden for her and her family, Joëlle remains strong and committed to enjoy life with her family and friends: “Together we took our energy and decided, once again, not to give cancer a chance and to go for it. Enjoying life is the best thing you can do against the disease.”
BIG’s press event to launch the campaign took place in the beautiful atelier of Roseline D’Oreye. The colourful Belgian artist joined forces with BIG and created a unique silk ribbon and pocket’s square with a hummingbird design.
The benefits of the sales will be donated to BIG’s research. The hummingbird represents the work dedicated to curing breast cancer, inspired by Denis Korrman’s Legend of the Hummingbird:
When an enormous fire was raging in a forest, it was the tiniest hummingbird that collected drops of water in its small beak in attempt to extinguish the fire. While other animals were helplessly watching and asked “But why are you doing this? Your little drops of water won’t stop the fire!”. To which the brave hummingbird replied, “Could be, but I’m going to do my bit.”. This act of heroism and selflessness inspired the other animals, who in their turn started picking up droplets of water and putting them on the fire. Eventually, with the dedication, perseverance and teamwork of the animals, the fire was extinguished.
Much like the animals of the forest, BIG’s researchers work tirelessly together each day to advance research more rapidly and thereby contribute to improving and saving the lives of women and men affected by the disease. Together, we can cure breast cancer, drop by drop.