Make 2nds Count – New Charity Launches for “Forgotten” Form of Breast Cancer.

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It was in her very first week of chemotherapy that Lisa Fleming turned to her husband Euan and told him: “We need to do something.”

Diagnosed last year with secondary breast cancer at the age of 34, the young Edinburgh mum realised how little she knew about this form of the disease, and how little public attention, support and research funding it attracts. Only 5-7% of funding into breast cancer research focuses solely on secondary breast cancer, which is currently incurable.

Secondary breast cancer occurs when primary breast cancer has spread beyond the breast to other sites in the body. Roughly 5 out of 100 people with breast cancer already have secondaries when they are diagnosed.

For Lisa, a former sales and marketing consultant, that meant when it was discovered, her breast cancer had spread to her spine, skull and eventually brain. She has since undergone two spinal surgeries, brain surgery and breast surgery and faces further operations. In the meantime, she has had to learn how to walk again.

Despite her gruelling treatment, she and Euan have set up a charity – Make 2nds Count – to raise awareness and much-needed funds for research into secondary breast cancer.  The charity – the only one of its kind in Scotland – will launch officially in Edinburgh on May 30.

“I actually felt embarrassed when I was diagnosed because I had never heard of it,” said Lisa.  “And then I realised how little money was spent on researching it, and so little support for women who have it. It is almost like the relative that nobody talks about. This is killing women but few people know about it. I just thought this can’t be right.” 

In the first place, all the money raised by the charity will go directly to research into secondary breast cancer currently being conducted at the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh by leading Academic Medical Oncologist Dr Olga Oikonomidou, who is also a patron of the new charity.

Dr Oikonomidou said: “Secondary breast cancer might be incurable but is treatable. As new treatments are being approved, patients with secondary breast cancer are starting to have more choices.