Breast Cancer Awareness Month: raising awareness with inspirational patient stories

By Steven Hildemann, MD, PhD, EVP, Chiel Medical Officer

The facts and figures around breast cancer bring into focus the importance of raising awareness of the true scale of this globally prevalent disease. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women1. It comprises of 24% of all cancers diagnosed in women2 with one in eight women diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime3, with up to 6% of women diagnosed before the age of 404. However, each of these statistics represents an individual woman living with this disease.

By actively listening to patients and working with organizations like Europa Donna, at Ipsen we know that women living with breast cancer need holistic support that goes beyond their treatment. Advice on nutrition, wellness, fertility and disease management along with interviews with healthcare professionals and stories from other patients can prove valuable resources. This is the support we are aiming to provide through platforms such as Everyday Wins, a program co-created with Europa Donna.

For this year’s breast cancer awareness month, we are amplifying Everyday Wins patient stories to the program in the hope of providing a source of inspiration and support to those who are living with breast cancer. Each of the women featured in these videos have managed their disease in a personal way, having been diagnosed at various stages of their lives between the ages of 31 and 42. They each speak to common themes of continuing to pursue their life plans and a drive to help others who may be going through a similar experience. From raising awareness in local schools, founding patient associations, creating support groups through social media or just putting a smile on someone’s face, each of these women tells the story of resilience. As a practicing lecturer, clinician and Ipsen’s Chief Medical Officer, I see how improved outcomes can be achieved when patients do not allow their lives to be defined by a disease such as breast cancer5.  That’s why raising awareness and sharing inspirational stories to an audience of all ages is key.

At Ipsen, we strive to make measurable improvements to patients’ lives. We are working with nearly 200 patient organizations to listen to patients and understand their personal journeys beyond statistics. Then, we translate their voice into insights and co-create initiatives that draw on their needs for support.

Putting patients at the heart of everything we do is also a belief that resonates with me personally. Alongside my career in the biopharmaceutical sector, I have continued to see patients and teach in academic centers. Being in touch with what matters to patients and their families gives us all at Ipsen the energy and inspiration for the work we deliver in the industry every day.

[1] www.who.int/cancer/detection/breastcancer/en/ [Last accessed October 2020]

[2] https://www.wcrf.org/dietandcancer/breast-cancer [Last accessed October 2020]

[3] www.breastcancercare.org.uk/information-support/have-i-got-breast-cancer/what-breast-cancer [Last accessed October 2020]

[4] DeSantis CE and al. Breast cancer statistics, 2019: CA Cancer J Clin.69:438–451; 2019

[5] Zhi Xuan Ng, Mei Shan Ong, Tamilarasi Jegadeesan, et al. Breast Cancer: Exploring the Facts and Holistic Needs during and beyond Treatment: Healthcare 2017, 5(2), 26; 10.3390/healthcare5020026

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