DETROIT – A group of local women are lighting up Metro Detroit with pink, teal and green to raise awareness for metastatic breast cancer.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Wednesday, Oct. 13, is Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day.
Local 4 met up with a few women who are living with the disease and organized Light Up MBC in Metro Detroit.
Wednesday night, the group is taking a bus ride through Downtown Detroit and downriver to see participating landmarks.
“I want people to know it’s more than just pink, the words metastatic breast cancer aren’t out there,” said Melissa Buckle, who was diagnosed with the disease.
Buckle is part of a support group of women battling the same cancer and their stories start off similar -- at one point, they all beat breast cancer.
“I had the five-year party, I had the 10-year party, I wore all the pink and then when it (cancer) came back in 12 years, I actually thought it was just something else,” said Teresa Shipp.
“A month after one of my clean mammograms I was in so much pain I could hardly walk,” said Buckle.
“I had mammograms for 14 years and then one day I went in for my mammogram and they said we need to send you to the ultrasound,” said Darlene Wilson.
The diagnosis came as a surprise to all of them -- metastatic breast cancer.
“That is the one thing about this cancer you can never say you’re done with it because it’s smart, it mutates,” said Wilson.
MBC is also known as stage 4 breast cancer. The disease spreads to other parts of your body like your bones, brain, liver or lungs. Twenty-five percent to 30% of breast cancer survivors will have metastatic breast cancer, according to METAvivor, which is a MBC research, support and awareness organization.
Then there’s people like Lynette Layman, she was diagnosed with stage 4 first. Research shows when diagnosed with MBC you have about 36 months to live. In Layman’s case, she was told she would have only a year left to live because the cancer spread to her brain.
“I’ve been living with metastatic breast cancer for...it’ll be nine years next month. Statistically I shouldn’t be here,” Layman said.
Wilson was the one who came up with plan to bring Light Up MBC to Metro Detroit and shed light the fight all of them are in. Often times they feel like the elephant in the room, forgotten in the pink ribbon campaigns.
She made dozens of calls and sent dozens of letters to get places on board for Wednesday night. This year is their second time putting on the initiative.
“I’m a GM retiree so it meant a lot to me to get the Renaissance Center to light up,” Wilson said.
Between Detroit, Allen Park and Southgate, 18 landmarks will be lit pink, teal and green. Pink for breast cancer, teal for vitality and green for hope.
“It’s a way to say ‘Hey we’re out here, please look at us, please help us,” Shipp said.
The help as in donate money as they don’t often see the standard breast cancer funds. METAvivor research shows that less than 5% of U.S. breast cancer research funding goes to MBC research.
“We only get a small portion, a slither of the pie,” said Layman.
It’s personal for this support group. That money will go to research and more research goes to more days.
“... To get more drugs out there, more treatment, opportunities and options for us because I’ve lost quite a few close friends and I’d like it to get better for all of us,” Shipp said.
It’s more days for fighters like Layman.
“My goal is to get me to see my two beautiful daughters both graduate from college. I got to see the first one, I have got to see the second one. Fire up chips,” she said.
Metro Detroit landmarks that will be lit pink, teal and green Wednesday night:
- Detroit -- Ford Field
- Detroit -- General Motors Renaissance Center
- Detroit -- Penobscot Building
- Detroit -- Bedrock Properties
- U.S. District Court
- The Press/321
- Bedrock Headquarters
- Ally Building
- Fifth Third Bank
- Z Deck
- David Stott Building
- Detroit -- DTE Energy
- Allen Park -- Uniroyal Tire
- Allen Park -- Park City Hall
- Allen Park -- Allen Park Police Station
- Southgate -- City Hall
- Southgate -- City of Southgate Veteran’s Memorial Library
- Southgate -- Pedestrian Walkway
- Grand Rapids -- McKay Tower